In 1872 - The New York State Legislature
authorized an expediture of $1,000 to Verplanck Colvin "to aid in completing a survey
of the Adirondack wilderness of New York, and a map thereof."
In 1874 Colvin reported back to the gathered Legislature:
"Unless the region be preserved
essentially in its present wilderness condition, the ruthless burning and destruction of
the forest will slowly, year after year, creep onward . . . and vast areas of naked rock,
arid sand, and gravel will alone remain to receive the bounty of the clouds and be unable
to retain it."
Many people credit Colvin's advocacy as the beginning of
the conservation movement that eventually led to the creation of the Adirondack Park as we
know it today. You can read more about Colvin and his compelling reports and journals in
"Adirondack Explorations: Nature
Writings of Verplanck Colvin."
The Adirondack Park
"New York State's Adirondack Mountains of northeastern New York are
home to the six-million-acre Adirondack Park, a patchwork of public and private lands
protected under state law. More than 2.6 million acres within the park are owned and
managed by the state. New York's Constitution states that these public lands in the
Adirondack Park must never be developed and "...shall be forever kept as wild forest
This protected land, which ranges from remote backcountry to
well-traveled mountain trails, provides a tremendous resource both for preservation and
recreation. Throughout the park, the state Department of Environmental Conservation
maintains more than 2,000 miles of marked trails available for people of all interests and
A Patchwork of Public and Private
The Adirondack Park was established by the New York State Legislature in
1892. Originally conceived simply as an area in which additions to the Forest Preserve
would be concentrated, the Park has evolved into an unprecedented blending of public and
private lands where people live in a landscape whose historic character and natural
environment are protected."
Of the 6 million acres encircled by the Park's boundary, or "blue
line," nearly 3.5 million acres are privately owned. The Park's many towns and
villages are home to 130,000 people. The lumber and paper industries, tourism,
construction and mining are major sources of employment for Park residents."
- Description of the Adirondacks from the NYSDEC web site
The Adirondack Forest Preserve was created in 1885 by an act of the New
York State Legislature. It was the culmination of a preservation movement that grew out of
concern about widespread deforestation and industrial growth in the Adirondacks.
Preservation advocates like Verplanck Colvin, Charles Sprague Sargent, and Franklin B.
Hough championed the protection of the Adirondack region as a vast public park.
Colvin believed that unrestricted logging would lead to reduced flows in
the Hudson River and Erie Canal, the major upstate transportation corridors of the day.
His fears became shared by influential New York City businessmen and early
environmentalists and together they achieved one of the earliest acts of public land
preservation in the nation.
After the establishment of the Forest Preserve, attempts to weaken the
law led the State to strengthen it in 1894, when these now famous words were added to the
New York State Constitution:
"The lands of the state, now
owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall
be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be
taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed
Originally covering about 681,000 acres, the Adirondack Forest Preserve
has grown to more than 2.6 million acres, making it the largest complex of wild public
lands in the eastern United States.