Denuding the Adirondack Woods.
There is in the previous sentence a title of a book. There are many reasons why we go into the Wilderness. I go to be away from people and visit my church, if you will excuse the expression.
The natural wonder of nature and of being in a wild place calms my nerves and feeds my soul more than anything else I can do in my day to day life. The Adirondacks feel timeless, and throwback to an early period in American history. Trees, water, rocks, sand, wildlife, all of this profoundly changed during the many periods of ice advancement from Canada almost down to Virginia. Advance and retreat, then repeat and repeat again.
Most people do not realize that it wasn’t one ice but many that carved the valleys and ground the mountains, formed the lakes, rivers and ponds all over the region. The last ice age ended arguably around 11-12,000 years ago, leaving the spectacular remnants behind that make the park what it is today. Gravel borrow pits to paddle recreation, tourism, hunting, fishing, paddle sports, camping, mining, and yes, logging. Before it was a park it ended up being a patchwork of clear cut patches from loggers that fed the logging boom of the 1800’s. Logging is as much of Upstate New York as is frozen custard stands and trail heads.
Verplank Colvin spent many years surveying and creating the original boundaries of what would become the Blue Line that sketched out the original size of the Adirondack Park back in the late 1800’s. Driven by the need to reduce Spring run-off and flooding downstream of large and small rivers heading South, it was also a brilliant move fed by the Transcendental movement of the age.
In Nature there is the answer to life’s woes and troubles. Peace and the eternal promise of renewal were one of the reasons why people would flock to the Adirondacks even back before it was a state park, it was a mecca for people from metropolitan areas to come and take the waters, breathe the clean fresh mountain air, ski the slopes or come to be cured from TB. This is so true today, minus the TB cure. Frantic and bombastic over use and abuse of the Adirondack Park will do as much damage than did over logging in the 1800’s.
How can I fault people from wanting to be in the forest, on a canoe or boat, camping or skiing and wanting to experience the same things I may want? Of course I can if they leave trash, cut down trees they shouldn’t abuse and use the locals as inferior to them, as so many native Adirondackers endure year in and year out when the tourists come visit and, not so infrequently, stay. So many of the people I knew growing up were long time residents of the Park and surrounding area, and some were from transplants from downstate, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Nobody minded. Respect the land, respect the people as they want to be respected, and we all get along. Disrespect any part of that equation and suffer the consequences.
In short, please do not cut down trees for a fire while camping. Use downed trees and wood that has fallen.
Do not unwrap living paper Birch trees to start your fire.
Leave nothing behind but memories so we all can return the timeless beauty of the Adirondack Park.
David P Medici is an Adirondack native currently living in Ashland, VA.
Almanack file photo by Ed Kanze