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History of the Adirondacks

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Colby Perry

on 10 May 2011

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Transcript of History of the Adirondacks

Enviromental, Ecological and Political
History of the Adirondack State Park About the Adirondacks The Adirondack Forest Preserve was established in 1885

In 1892 the State Forest was expanded and established as
the Adirondack State Park

In 1894 further protections were added to the State Constitution.
It stated that all lands within the park publicly owned by the state
are to be "Forever Wild" in which they may never be developed.

Today the Adirondacks make up 6 million acres of land in which 43% of it is owned by the state. The rest is privatly held by the various residents and comapanies.

The Adirondack Park is rich in geographical features consisting 3,000 lakes and ponds, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams and hundreds of mountains in which 46 reach over 4000 feet. The Highest point in New York state, Mount Marcy, is 5,344

The Park Also consists a rich heritage of ecosystems and biodiversity. Some of the Biomes in the park include wetlands deciduous and coniferous forests and the rares ecosystem in the state, the alpine tundra.

The park also includes unique wildlife such as Bears, moose the the park's iconic Loon. Geological History of the Adirondacks The Adirondacks are part of the Canadian Shield geological formation. Contrary to popular belief they are not park of the Appalachian mountain chain to the east or west of it.
The Adirondack Mountains area a dome region that is over 200km (120M) in diameter. The geoligical region is also technically sourounded by water with Lake Champlain to the east, the St. Lawrence Seaway to the north, Lake Ontario to the west and the Mohawk River to the south.
The Adirondacks mostly consist of metamorphic rock and is some of the oldest rock in New York state dating anywhere between 1 to 1.5 Billion years old.
The Adirondacks were once below a prehistoric sea but tectonic forces eventually push the dome upwards to over a mile at it's highest point (Mount Marcy)
The mountains, valleys and bodies of water are the responsibility of glacier of the previous ice ages over the last 100,00 years.
When the glaciers finally retreated they left a coarse sandy top soil. This soil which is permeable and acidic is undesirable for agriculture. Early History of the Adirodacks Througout most of it's history the Adirondack Region remained relativly untouched by human hands.
Before the arrival of European settlers the Algonquin and Iroquois used the region as hunting grounds but never permanently settled.
The first recorded encounter by an European was Samuel de Champlain in 1609.
For the next 200 years the area remained minimally charted and avoided aside from a few hunters. During the Revolutionary War period two counties were formed in norther New York, Charlotte and Tyron country. Eventually as property in the area was sold and redistributed they would become the modern counties know today, Clinton, Essex, Fulton, Warren, Herkimer, Hamilton, St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties.
One famous owner of Adirondack property in the early 19th century is John Brown a famous abolitionist who lead a raid on the Harper's Ferry Armory in order to arm a slave insurrection. Economic Development in the 19th Century. While the Adirondacks lacked ideal farmland the area was rich in other resources.
The two major resources the Adirondacks held was timber and iron.
Throughout the 19th century the area heavily exploited for these two resources Mining in the Adirondacks The primary ore extracted was iron. Other minerals extracted were garnet, graphite, feldspar and titanium.
Due to the regions terrain transportation of ore was diffucult and was often done by horse drawn sleds in the winter and floated down river in the spring thaw.
Through the 1800s over a hundred mines were built with dozens of towns set up through the region. The largest one is Plattsburgh NY.
In 1880 Adirondack mining was at its peak producing 10% of the nations Iron.
In the 20th century iron mining began to decline but saw a brief resurgance in the 1940s in order to respond to increased wartime production of arms and material.
Today iron is no longer extracted in the Adirondacks. The only active mine is garnet mine near Gore Mountain which produces abrasive industrial garnet. Early Tourism in the Adirondacks Since the 1820s the Adirondack Region was a tourist destination for wealthy sportsmen on hunting and fishing expeditions.
The person who made these trips possible was the Adirondack Guide. He was responsible for carrying his clients equipment, transporting them to know hunting spot and setting up and taking care of camp.
In 1869 a sportman by the name of William Murray published "adventures in the Wilderness" describing his trips in the Adirondacks.
In response to this many wealthy readers of the book, inspired by it decided to vacation in the Adirondacks. This was known as "Murray's Rush"
Due to the surge in tourists the guides and hotels were unable to service those who visited that summer. Those who did manage to get a hotel and guide spent days even weeks cold, wet, dirty and hungry during an useasonly wet Adirondack Summer.
The people who returned from there trips were upset with Murray calling his book a lie. In his defense Murray said that such vacations were not for everyone as many of these wealthy clients came to expend luxury accomidations that did not exist in the Adirondacks at the time.
Neverless the Adirondacks still continued to be a prime vacationing spot. One of the area's most famous visitor was Vice President Theodore Roosevelt in 1901 who had to cut his trip short in order to return to Buffalo due to President Mckinley being assassinated there in order to be inaugurated. Logging In the Adirondacks Creation of the Adirondack Park The creation of the Adirondack Park was spearheaded by a surveyor named Vernplanck Colvin.
In 1872 Colvin noticed that the logging in the Adirondacks was leading to excessive soil erosion. In his report to the state assembly he suggested the creation of a State Forest.
Many loggers and industrialists in the region agreed with this move due to the fears of silt deposits in the Mohawk and Hudson rivers will make them impractical for both drinking and transportation.
In 1885 the State passed the Adirondack Forest Preserve Act. This gave the State millions of acres of land that would not be logged.
In 1892 the Forest Preserve was converted into a state park due to the lobbying of Colvin and other conservationists not content with it being a State Forest alone. This expanded it's borders to include private lands as well.
In 1894 further protections were added to the State Park. An amendment was added to the state constitution known as article 14. In this amendment the "Forever Wild" clause was added which stated that it was unconstitutional to develope on state forest land within the Park.
When the original Park was created the original intent was to purchase all lands within the "Blue Line." As this would prove to be too costly other policies were looked at in order to conserve the natural resources within the park.
When the park was concieved it was appluaded by both residence of the park as well as tourists and industrialists from outside the park.

The Park in the Early 20th Century Even though the park was endorsed by people of all socio-economic classes disputes ensued after its inception.
In order to protect both forests and wildlife Forest Rangers were employed to enforce the new laws set on the land. As time went on the number of rangers increased.
For many of the Park residence making a livlihood within the park meant that hunting and collecting wood was necessary to there survival.
Enventually many park residence found that their lifestyle was incompatible with these news as hunting and collecting wood on public land was now classified as "poaching" or "timber theft."
In response to this Adirondack residents would try to avoid Park Rangers. If caught many would resist arrest and some would even resort to threats and use of force.
Many poorer Adirondack residents also could not hunt on private lands either. The reason for this is that the majority of private land was owned by private game clubs such as the Adirondack League Club or by wealthy industrialists of the time such as John D. Rockefeller, Alfred Vanderbilt and Orrando Dexter.
Many of these private lands in order to maximize the amount of game they could hunt would employ fences to keep game on their property.
In protest to this practice many of the poorer residents would cut the fences to let game escape or burn forests on private lands so game inhabit those areas.
The most extreme case of this civil unrest was the use of violence. Several Park Rangers were attacked or killed for enforcing the new laws. In one case Orrando Dexter was murdered by a hunter on his private tract, the perpetrator was never caught.
These new conservation rules could be classified as class warfare as the laws tended to oppress poorer members of the park.
The reason for these laws stems from the fact that the early conservationist movement could be viewed as elitest in nature. Most well known conservationist of the period were often wealthy and well educated often including Philosophers, Politicians, Business men and other Intellectuals.
Eventually the Park residents adapted to the new laws as their livelihoods shifted from hunting and gathering to a modern service sector economy primarily in the tourists industry. Tourism in the Early 20th Century By the 20th Century the Adirondack Park would become one of the Northeast's premier vacationing spots.
With the invetion of the Automobile and the further developement of infrastructure the Adirondack Park became easily accessible to common man.
As more tourists came the expansion of many park services such as roads, trails, campgrounds, and tourists centers.
In the 1920s the State Park bought the Mount Marcy region and added to the State Forest due to it containing some the highest mountains in the state.
Throughout the first half of the 20th century the number of tourists grew with exception of both World Wars.
The Adirondack Park like many other State and National Parks faced a dilema. The problem was about how can park agencies manage to keep their parks looking pristine and untouched with so many tourists visting them?
To further complicate this the Adirondacks must also figure out how to conserve its resourced while acknowledging the rights and desires of the Park's residents. The Adirondack Park in the Modern Era In 1959 the 'forever wild' amendment was modified to allow a small corridor in the eastern Adirondacks to be developed on.
The rationale behind this was that during the 1950s the Eisenhower Interstate System began construction and there was a need for a northway to connect Albany to Montreal.
In 1967 I-87 the Adirondack Northway was finished allowing people easier access to the park.
As tourism and residential population increased many conservationists started to notice that the untouched qualities of the Adirondack Park were endangered. The biggest issue with this is that the Adirondack Park's economy relied on tourism yet if too much growth was allowed it would destroy what made it appealing to tourists.
This dilemma would put conservationists and regulators on the spot as they try to balance enviromental conservation with economic growth.
In 1968 Governer Nelson Rockefeller employed a study commision to determine the best way to conserve the Park's appeal in the face of growth.
The conclusion in their report was to create a new agency for the park in order to oversee the development of private lands.
In 1971 the Adirondack Park Agency was created in order to oversea this.
The Adirondack Park Agency The purpose of the Adirondack Park Agency was regulate land development within the park.
The Adirondack Park Agency puts private land into six catagories. They include hamlet, moderate intensity, low intensity, rural use, industrial use and resource management with each one having increased regulations.
The APA also has a comprensive list of zoning laws and zoning board process.
Ever since the establishment of the Agency it has proven itself to be controversial.
Many conservationist have pointed out that the APA has not done its job and that excessive development continues.
In 1990 Governor Mario Cuomo called for a commitee to review the APA and suggest reforms. The report was called the Commision for the Adirondacks in the 21st Century.
In 1992 Govern Cuomo proposed tax incetives and regulation reforms in order balance conservation with economic growth. The proposals never passed in the State Assembly.
The Adirondack Park Agency is also held in contempt by many park residents viewing it as excessive regulation. The APA vs Adirondack Residents The APA is held in contempt by many Adirondack Residents
Many Adirondack Residents feel that the Agency is too overly bureacratic and contains regulations that are too restrictive.
Many also point out that most people on the APA board are not residents residents of the Adirondacks. They claim that the APA doesn't represent them and puts the interests of "downstaters" above them
The Anomosity for the APA also stem from the philosophy of "rugged individualism," property rights and distrust of government that is common amon rural Americans.
Many Adirondacks residents feel that the APA should be abolished and zoning should be done at the town and county levels.
Despite the animosity of the APA, residents of all ideologies feel that enviromental conservation is important to the future of their community. The Adirondacks in the Present Day The greatest threat the Adirondacks in recent times was the effects of Acid Rain.
Acid Rain is caused by emmsions from industry and transportation. The gases mix with the Atomsphere causing the rain to acidify causing detrimental effects to the enviroment it comes in contact with.
The Adirondacks are particularly vulnerable due to the emmisions from industrial cities to the west, the rain shadow the mountains create and the lack of limestone and it's unique properties of neutralizing acid rain.
The Adirondacks steep slopes, poor soil water retention and abundance of bodies of water has endured catastrophic effects due to acid rain. Hundreds of aquatic ecosystems within the park have been destroyed by acid rain.
Acid Rain also creates mercury poisoning that moves its way up the food chain causing determental effects to wildlife such as Eagles, Otters, Loons and Herons.
In 1990 amendments to the federal Clean Air Act was passed in order to curb the emmsion of acid rain inducing gases. This has manage to curb and reverse much acid rain but a lot of damage has been already done.
The Future of the Adirondacks Today the biggest enviromental threat is climate change.
While the affects of climate change are uncertain most predictions believe that it will have determental effects on the Park.
These effects include a rapid change in climate that the Adirondack Enviroment cannot adapt to. This may cause a shift in the ranges of species and environments or their extinction.
If this happen the Park will lose its defining characteristics which will have a negative impact on tourism.
Climate change is not an issue that the park can take care of alone but will take an international concerted effort to curb its effects.
Even wtih the threat of climate change the Adirondack Park still faces the issue of balaning encroaching economic development with environmental conservation. Conclusions The Adirondacks in the 21st century face many issues but with a united and passionate effort they can be overcome.
In retrospect the concept of a Park that contains both private and public lands could be considered flawed. Despite this the Adirondack Park can be considered a success as it has given millions of people a place to enjoy, appreciate and explore nature.
"We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive."- Aldo Leopold Bibliography 1. Alfred Lee Donaldson, Adirondack Mountain Club. 1921. A History of the Adirondacks. New York: The Century Co.

2. William H.H. Murray. 1989. Adventures in the Wilderness. New York: Syracuse University Press.

3. The Adirondack Museum. 2000. Adirondack History Network. Retrieved 4/16/2011: http://www.adirondackhistory.org/

4. Adirondack Park Agency. 2003.Adirondack Park Agency. Retrieved 4/16/2011 http://www.apa.state.ny.us/

5. NYS Geological Survey. (2000). The Adirondack Mountains: New Mountains from Old Rocks. Retrieved 4/16/2011. http://gretchen.geo.rpi.edu/roecker/nys/adir_txt.html

6. Peter H. Gore and Mark B. Environmental Quality and Social Equality: Wilderness Preservation in a Depressed Region, New York State's Adirondacks. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 35, No. 4 (Oct., 1976), pp. 349-359Published by: American Journal of Economics and Sociology.

7. Karl Jacoby. Class and Environmental History: Lessons from "The War in the Adirondacks."Environmental History, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Jul., 1997), pp. 324-342.

8. I. H. Ogilvie. Glacial Phenomena in the Adirondacks and Champlain Valley. The Journal of Press Stable

9. Sven A. Anderson and Augustus Jones. Iron in the Adirondacks. Economic Geography, Vol. 21, No. 4 (Oct., 1945), pp. 276-285Published by: Clark University

10. Philip G. Terrie. Imperishable Freshness": Culture, Conservation, and the Adirondack Park. Forest & Conservation History, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Jul., 1993), pp. 132-141. Forest History Society and American Society for Environmental History

11. Adirondack Council. (2005)Adirondack Council. Retrieved 4/16/2011. http://www.adirondackcouncil.org

Multimedia Sources Title Picture: http://www.shorpy.com/node/10408?size=_original
Adirondack Mountain View: http://v6.cache2.c.bigcache.googleapis.com/static.panoramio.com/photos/original/27110618.jpg?redirect_counter=1
Adirondack Logging: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2680/4155590144_4af1054552.jpg
Adirondack Logging Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Frp0egKBkXA
Adirondack Park Map: http://www.apa.state.ny.us/gis/_assets/ForestPreserver1892_2002.gif
Resident Interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWdTslekr9E
Acid Rain Picture: http://www.supergreenme.com/data/images/11/acid_rain.jpg
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