Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Vintage Adirondack Park Documentaries Now Available

slides033Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve has converted two influential documentary films from the 1970s, Of Rivers and Men and The Adirondack – The Land Nobody Knows, to digital format.

The conversion was supported by private donors including those who gave to a mini-campaign of Adirondack Gives, a crowd funding source sponsored by the Adirondack Foundation.

The films were originally created by Couch-sa-chra-ga Association in cooperation with The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks. Noted Adirondack wilderness coalition leader Paul Schaefer led both film projects, but numerous volunteers, outdoor guides and funders made these film projects possible. They capture not only beautiful Adirondack scenery but the reasons behind environmental laws protective of the Adirondack Park, such as the Adirondack Park Agency Act, the Private Land Use and Development Plan, State Land Master Plan, and the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act.

The films and production work were an all-volunteer effort, including a donated helicopter and pilot, and all of the heavy camera gear then required to take good footage in the mountains and on the rivers.  It was an extraordinary team effort, and editing the films down from hundreds of hours to 30 minutes proved very challenging.

slides036Of Rivers and Men (1972): According to Paul Schaefer, the NYS Environmental Conservation Commissioner required his executive staff to watch this film, which helped to influence the large expansion of the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers system. Of Rivers and Men was filmed by Glens Falls native Fred Sullivan. It describes some of the rivers selected to be in the Rivers system and tells the story of the all-out effort to protect the wild character of the Adirondack region. Interviews with first Adirondack Park Agency Chairman Richard W. Lawrence of Elizabethtown and original APA Member Peter Paine of Willsboro are included, as is a memorable guided canoe trip through the Hudson Gorge and a running of the White Water Derby in North Creek.

 The Adirondack – The Land Nobody Knows (1980) earned a Cine Golden Eagle award and film prints were distributed to every school district in NYS via BOCES. It had a memorable first screening to a packed audience at the NYS Legislative Office Building in Albany in 1980. It tells the story not only of Article XIV of the NYS Constitution (“forever wild”) but also of the public and private organizations created in the 1970s to protect the Park. Included are interviews with legendary Park conservationist Clarence Petty and atmospheric scientist Vincent Schaefer.

For information on how to receive a copy of either film, contact Adirondack Wild’s David Gibson via email at dgibson@adirondackwild.org.


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4 Responses

  1. Lorraine Duvall says:

    A 16mm version of “Rivers and Men” is available at the Joan Weil Library at Paul Smith’s College, where I viewed the film for my book “In Praise of Quiet Waters”. Fred Sullivan published an article about filming this documentary in the Summer 1973 issue of Adirondack Life.

    • Lorraine Duvall says:

      Thanks to Adirondack Wild and the Adirondack Gives campaign for helping to preserve this history.

  2. How can these be viewed? Can we put them on You tube? these should be shown in the high schools.

    Can we encourage today’s APA and DEC staff etc. to see these.

    Schaefer’s materials are not a mere historical artifacts or obscure curiosities they are vitally relevant to today’s issues and conflicts.

    The main difference between today’s groups and Paul’s is that until the 80’s everyone understood that the only purpose of preparing these materials was to take to public meetings in Brooklyn, Batavia, Buffalo and Binghamton to the working people who would consistently vote to support roadless wilderness on public lands from endless attempts to develop and road it.

    God help Adirondack wilderness if we ever have another constitutional convention because the statewide political structure that protected wilderness through efforts like these films distributed everywhere has been largely abandoned. Because of Schaefer there were once 1000 groups advocating for roadless wilderness for every one against it, now the situation is reversed.

    Thanks for doing this.

  3. John Lounsbury says:

    These films should definitely be uploaded to YouTube.

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