Friday, September 24, 2021

Expanding the Reach of Forever Wild

hemlock grove

Hemlock grove of old trees, Wilcox Lake Wild Forest

As my friend and I hiked underneath groves of large eastern hemlock trees in the part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve called Wilcox Lake Wild Forest we thought about what this forest is and the vast ecological system – the community of life – that the forest and we are are interdependent parts of.

What towered above us, hemlocks well over a century in age, are dwarfed in scope by the vaster yet unseen root and fungal synapses and microbiota that sustain this wild forest in the soil beneath our feet.

The watershed feeding Tenant Creek flowing downslope of the trail we were on is one of thousands upon thousands of watersheds, large and smaller, whose ability to store and slowly release water were once under threat by deforestation and which motivated passage in 1894 of New York’s “forever wild” provision in its State Constitution, now encompassing 3 million acres in both Adirondack and Catskill Parks. Wilcox Lake Wild Forest, more than 100,000 acres in size, is part of that forever wild system.

And these Adirondack forests, stitched together with conserved or well safeguarded private lands, are central to maintaining a livable part of our planet, its human, plant and animal life support systems, the region’s ecological fabric, and the very basis for its economic advantage.

These forests are the lungs of New York, but also of the northeastern U.S., sequestering and storing carbon on a large scale. They are part of a huge web of life, seen and mostly unseen.

For instance, ecologist and botanist Jerry Jenkins estimated in his book Climate Change in the Adirondacks (2010) that the carbon bank in all Adirondack forests, above ground in the vegetation itself and below ground in the soil, is about 85 tons per acre, or over 430 million tons in all.  As Jenkins writes in his book Climate Change, if all that stored forest carbon were to be released at once it would be equal to all the carbon emissions from within the Adirondack Park over the past 750 years.

As for carbon offsets, Jenkins estimates that the public Adirondack Forest Preserve, all 2.7 million acres of it, accumulates 0.4 tons of carbon per acre per year, or over a million tons of carbon per year on state lands. Another 1.3 million tons is being stored annually on the park’s private forests, or 2.3 million total tons of carbon offsets per year in all Adirondack forests.

Such carbon storage and offsetting in the Adirondacks and Catskills receives surprisingly little mention from New York State government. When New York State acquires Forest Preserve or conservation easements on private land or State Forests, the carbon benefits are rarely if ever cited in the press release – much less estimated as one of the many benefits of acquiring these lands or conservation rights.

In all Adirondack Forest Preserve unit management plans, whether completed (approximately 40) or drafted (approximately 17), one is also hard pressed to find much analysis about this ecological as well climate related “good news” for the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

Yet it is these very management plans which are meant to translate “forever wild” policies into practical reality on the ground. Many are hopeful that the 2019 legislation, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, will expect DEC to specifically strengthen its plans, policies and economic incentives to expand carbon sequestration and storage on public and private forests across the entire state.

That view of Article XIV as a crucial climate tool might also also incentivize DEC to expand its entire vision of the constitution, looking beyond its perceived prohibitions and focusing more on its promise and benefits.

Article XIV is our state’s highest (and mandated) expression of the land ethic in practice – and how often does our DEC ask the public to practice “leave no trace” recreational pursuit, or “if you care, leave them there” when it comes to young wildlife, or “Carry it In, Carry it Out” when it comes to removing personal belongings on public land?

Article XIV, “forever wild,” is the ultimate expression of exercising human restraint to benefit the environment. DEC could be making much better use of it, from just about every standpoint, in just about every division and bureau.

Instead, many at DEC and its pre-1970 predecessor (the Conservation Department) have viewed Article XIV suspiciously and narrowly, as something prohibitive (as in material tree cutting), an irritating obstacle to administrative plans or whims waiting to entrap the department legally.

Alternatively, DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency could embrace and promote Article XIV as a modern and crucial aide to their success on multiple, urgent environmental fronts all at once – air and water quality, climate mitigation, environmental review under SEQR, stream and river restoration, wetlands protection, wildlife conservation, climate planning and mitigation and public safety – the list of how Article XIV can be embraced to strengthen all DEC’s, and APA’s legislated responsibilities is lengthy.

As for the Adirondacks and Catskills, all rural communities, how can they compete for climate mitigation and adaptation funding with far more populous and wealthier cities and towns across of the state? Once again, the advantage Adirondack and Catskill communities have over other parts of the state is Article XIV. That distinguishing constitutional mandate, viewed expansively, should direct significant climate leadership and adaptation investments from Albany.

Also, Article XIV in our very constitution should rally the Governor and all state agencies to reach for and achieve more consistent, better coordinated environmental policies toward the entire Adirondack and Catskill Parks. As the public knows, the Forest Preserve in both Adirondack and Catskill Parks is administered, often in conflicting ways, by four different DEC regional offices and as many offices of the NYS DOT and Health Departments. This could change if a determined Governor and Commissioner viewed Article XIV through a more positive, expansive lens.

As our hike progressed, my friend and I mentioned the recent Court of Appeals decision affirming Article XIV. In May, our highest court (Protect the Adirondacks! v. DEC et. al.) ruled that the state’s construction of 27 miles of snowmobile community connector trails across multiple units of Forest Preserve, the resulting alteration of the Forest Preserve (primarily for mechanized uses) and the loss of many thousands of trees due to the construction required an amendment of Article XIV – and could not be authorized by administrative fiat, as DEC had done from 2011-2014.

The decision echoed and affirmed that of the same Court in 1930 (in the Bobsled decision, North Elba).

Ever since the Court’s decision most of the public’s attention has been drawn to only one clause of Article XIV, the part that states “nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.” The Court did rule that as many as 27,000 trees of one inch or larger subject to destruction to build the connector trails violated Article XIV. Some trail organizations worry that the Court’s adoption of a more expansive tree-cutting standard has prohibited all or most trail maintenance projects – which is not the case and not what the justices decided.

My larger point is that reducing Article XIV simply to a prohibition on tree cutting beyond a material degree is not what the Article XIV 1894 framers, 20th century defenders, or this 2021 Court intended.

During the case’s oral argument last March one Court of Appeals justice reminded his colleagues that the Forest Preserve is a “unique gift.” So many forests around the world were on fire, he said, a frightening conflagration accelerated by dramatic climate change. In the eastern United States, “we rely on the Forest Preserve,” he said, for climate mitigation, watershed protection, wildlife conservation, in fact for the very quality of our lives and to maintain all forms of life, our community of life relatively intact. That, he maintained, was the vital significance of Article XIV.

Nicholas A. Robinson, Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law at Pace University School of Law, and a former deputy commissioner of the DEC said it all best in his 2007 paper “Forever Wild”: New York’s Constitutional Mandates to Enhance the Forest Preserve.  

In his paper, Robinson writes:

“We need to expand the reach of the “forever wild” clause throughout the Adirondacks if the people and nature of this region are to prosper in the future. New York’s “forever wild” Forest Preserve has been far too neglected at home, while serving as a model for wilderness laws nationally and internationally. In the coming decades it must be embraced again at home, once again to be a model for the changes that humans will need to find as we adapt to climate change all over the Earth. We must build nature’s systems into our own social and economic lives if we and nature are to endure in the future as we have in the past.

My thesis is that the executive branch of State government, our Governors and most of our other State and local authorities have observed the mandates of Article XIV most shallowly. They have ignored their stewardship duties to promote “forever wild forest lands.” Civic groups, and courts should not only concern themselves with the task of keeping government from evading the land ethic; rather we should be changing government to embrace the land ethic derived from this “forever wild,” both in the Adirondacks and Catskills, and as a role model throughout the State and nation.”

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David Gibson

Dave Gibson, who writes about issues of wilderness, wild lands, public policy, and more, has been involved in Adirondack conservation for over 30 years as executive director of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks and currently as managing partner with Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve

During Dave's tenure at the Association, the organization completed the Center for the Forest Preserve including the Adirondack Research Library at Paul Schaefer’s home. The library has the finest Adirondack collection outside the Blue Line, specializing in Adirondack conservation and recreation history.

Currently, Dave is managing partner in the nonprofit organization launched in 2010, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.




27 Responses

  1. JB says:

    David, your essays are always refreshing. It’s nice be invited to tag along on your proverbial walks through the woods, and to get a better overlook upon the often unsettling circumstances that we find ourselves in. Most importantly, all of this aspires towards the higher purpose of showing us productive paths forward out of the quagmire of exasperation and disappointment.

  2. Ray Mainer says:

    And where is Wilcox Lake?

  3. Todd Eastman says:

    Excellent analysis!

    Forever Wild is a huge piece in NYS governance. Give it the recognition it deserves in the climate an water quality realm!

  4. Zephyr says:

    “My thesis is that the executive branch of State government, our Governors and most of our other State and local authorities have observed the mandates of Article XIV most shallowly.”

    The problem is that politics rules our government leaders, and local leaders are always pushing the myth that the Forest Preserve has harmed their local economies and things must be done to compensate. I have lived in a lot of places and the voices that resonate with local leaders are always in the business community that is inevitably laser focused on the next quarter’s bottom line. Yes, there are visionary business leaders, but it is difficult to get politicians to focus on something that might happen within the next 30 years when a snowmobile trail might mean a local businessman or woman will see more sales next winter.

  5. louis curth says:

    Our Forest Preserve is truly a “unique gift” for all the reasons mentioned by the justice and more to so many of us.

    Back in the 1970s, rangers were required to open their homes to the public for permits, information, etc. One day a young couple traveling on bicycles stopped at my headquarters for information about the area. They said they had reached Johnsburg on their way east on a cross country cycling trip that they had begun on the West Coast. As we talked, their appreciation for the Adirondack Forest Preserve became evident. In all the states they had traveled through, they said, there was nothing comparable to our Forest Preserve. I can’t remember, but they may have even said it was it was “unique”…

  6. Stephanie S. says:

    I recently purchased a log home in North Constatia along with 9.5 acres. Most of it is wooded land with some low-lying areas. Realistically, I will only use about one or two acres for my gardens and landscaping. Is there a way for me to designate the rest of it as forever wild? I’d also like to prohibit hunting on my land. Would appreciate any suggestions.

    • Zephyr says:

      Is North Constatia anywhere near the Adirondack Blue Line? One way to conserve your land and possibly limit hunting would be to create a conservation easement with the help of a local accredited land trust. It is dependent on the nature of the land, how its location works with other conserved lands, what the land trust’s other projects are, etc. But, the land trust people tend to be very friendly and always interested in helping landowners. I would talk to them.

    • JT says:

      Stephanie,
      I also am a property owner living outside the park. My property is in northern St. Lawrence County. One of the joys of owning property is learning the plants and animals you have living there. Land outside the park is much more fragmented in terms of forest, fields, residential, roads, etc. and is much more vulnerable to invasive species such as buckthorn, honeysuckle, garlic mustard, japanese knotweed and others. I do not see forever wild as an option for me, rather I am attempting to get the property closer to a natural state by removing the invasive species that out compete the native species. Deer hunting and removing some does is an important aspect that helps the cause because they browse the native vegetation and do not touch the invasives giving the invasives another competitive advantage. You may want to survey what you have on your property and use the information to weigh your options.
      Inside the park, forever wild on the larger tracks of wilderness a wild forests is very important to preserve the natural ecosystems that already exist.

      • JB says:

        JT, your comment exemplifies perhaps the best and most practical argument for forever wild in the Adirondack Park. It is just as you describe only a few miles south of the blue line as well: fragmented ecosystems; comparatively less botanical, fungal, zoological diversity; lots of invasives (some quite exotic and strange, like Sedum spp., Chelidonium majus). Part of that is geology and soil chemistry, as a determinant of species preference, but overwhelmingly I believe that we have “forever wild” and rugged, nonarable terrain to thank for the intactness of Adirondack ecosystems. Most everything in New York State outside of the Catskill and Adirondack Parks (with a few exceptions) has at one point in the past 300 years been pasture land or “the back forty” of surrounding farmland. That legacy, although having providing sustainment to generations, will still be strongly felt by our great, great grandchildren, even if we were all to go into cryogenic hibernation tomorrow.

        That being said, there are some small plots of land throughout the upstate lowlands that are home to some truly unique and precious ecological communities. The most astonishingly unique communities have probably all been lost during the settlement of the most fertile pockets of the State: Long Island, Binghamton, Rochester. But there undoubtedly still remain some very important tracts tucked away in farm country. I would bet that some of these very critically endangered ecosystems exist in or around Constatia; some botanists actually believe that Oswego, Oneida, and Otsego counties are probably some of the best candidate areas to look for locally rare or extirpated populations–that region is and has been a world-class biodiversity hotspot.

        The trouble is that, unlike fish and game, plants are private property. The State cannot protect endangered plant populations that are located on private land. There are private land trusts throughout that area that have done some really important preservation work, mostly on properties less than 100 acres. It’s not forever “wild”, but at least it is forever protected. It is easy to detract on forever wild when there are so many nice little private forests in the Northeast…Until your favorite private forest is sold off to a real-estate developer.

        • Boreas says:

          As a wee lad, I was exposed to Heart’s Content in the Allegheny NF in NW PA. It was my first, and I believe my only exposure to a true old-growth NE forest. It was a magical place then, and hopefully still is. Too bad it was injured by chestnut blight, and I assume many old stumps still exist. They sometimes can be found in many places with new shoots – hopefully more resistant to the blight.

          If you are in the area, it is a great spot to check out, although those who espouse modern “managed” forests may be appalled.

          https://www.oldgrowthforest.net/pa-hearts-content-national-scenic-area-allegheny-national-forest

        • JT says:

          Stephanie,
          There you go, perhaps you may have a critically endangered ecosystem on your property.
          JB
          My property is actually overgrown agricultural land. One observation I have made is the back half of the property has a closed canopy which created an impenetrable barrier keeping out the invasive species. The front half, being more open to sunlight is where I have issues. I look at this in terms of the forest preserve and maintaining that closed canopy to keep out the invasive species. As the article points out too, the estimated quantities of stored carbon are vast. Unfortunately we do not put a monetary value on this like we do saw timber. As a property owner, I wish I had this option, whereby I could be economically compensated for maintaining a forest rather than gaining economic value by cutting it down. After my time has passed as caretaker of the property, the more likely scenario is that it would be logged off and converted back into agricultural land as opposed to being sold off to a real-estate developer. This is happening quite a bit around here as the larger industrial farms need more land to support more cows.

        • JB says:

          Boreas, thanks for the referral. Despite growing up in Otsego county, literally a few hundred yards from a major headwater of the Susquehanna River, I have only been down through that general area once, and I never actually visited the National Forest. I have heard great things about it and the old-growth forests of Pennsylvania, though. There are supposedly tens of thousands of acres of virgin Adirondack forests, but obviously the character and ecology is dramatically different than those found anywhere else. (Another argument for a forever wild Adirondacks).

          I have never seen 300 year old Eastern white pines, nor have I ever knowingly seen an American chestnut tree; they have become the Franklinia of the Northeast. That being said, I am cautiously optimistic for Northeastern forests, even in the face of climate change. The losses in biodiversity that we have seen in the past 100 years must pale in comparison to the extirpations and extinctions that were wrought upon our forests during the 300 years that preceded them, with the wholesale logging of hundreds of millions of acres of the some of the most biodiverse old-growth temperate forests in the world. We will never know the previous Northeastern extents of obligate old-growth species, like some of the Fomitopsis or certain bryophytes (e.g., a Neckeraceae was driven to extinction in early 20th century Eastern Canada by logging of old-growth red pine forests, becoming Canada’s only endemic species known to have gone extinct to date).

          JT, I have long thought as well that the government should be incentivizing the value of living forests, rather than dead ones. It’s not like we are living west of the 100th, where native ecosystems are grasslands rather than forests.

          I have a similar situation: old pasture land, half 75 year forests, half open field. Or at least, it was open field (with some thickets) until we allowed it to grow in for the past decade. What I have learned is that biodiversity recovery is slow, too slow for most people to notice in the span of a few years, or even a couple of decades. But interesting things do begin to happen. Entomological and avian diversity really starts to take off after a year two or three, and that is followed by some very interesting native plant species starting to come in a few years later, both in the fields and in adjacent forests (presumably the two phenomena are related). Some of the plant species that I have observed are extremely locally rare; there is just very little land that is allowed to grow in that way–hence, if the State wants to boost biodiversity, compensate that type of thing.

          Much of the field will be a secondary poplar forest, with scattered red pines, red cedars and pincherry, in another 20 years (I have seen a few of these types of areas close by). The more mature forest will continue to become more biodiverse; maybe the fungal diversity will even improve in coming decades. The caveat, of course, is that some of the previously established weedy colonies may never die out in my natural lifetime. There are goldenrod fields in the Northeast that are a century old. Similarly, although buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) will probably not further establish in the presence of their new competition from native woody species, existing thickets may also persist practically indefinitely. I really don’t know. That’s surprise and resiliency is part of the motivation for me.

          Understandably, others are driven to action by other things, like the economic headaches involved with owning land anywhere in this state, or in the contiguous United States really. And that is a shame, because the State can only buy up so much land, and what land they do acquire is often counterintuitively turned into industrial-grade campgrounds and trail networks that are heavily used, abused and degraded. Land ownership has really turned into a Faustian bargain for those of us who care enough to become long-term stewards. Right now, it is really the financially fortunate individuals and private groups that are actually doing the heavy-lifting in terms of protecting the remaining sensitive lowland ecosystems in New York State.

          • Boreas says:

            JB,

            I am not sure, but what you are doing may be similar to what the state is doing on some WMAs. At Wickham Marsh WMA, they clearcut two 5 acre (I believe) chunks out of existing young forest land. They let these grow unmolested for about 10 years. This year they bush-hogged them again, leaving just a few aspen and cherry saplings standing – I assume for another 10 years until they are bush-hogged again. The process is supposed to encourage biodiversity for game and other species that prefer disturbed areas. I don’t know if you intend to keep bush-hogging your clearings or not, but we need some open areas as well as older-growth on private and non-Forest Preserve lands. Downstate is working to keep and expand grasslands down that way as well.

            • JB says:

              Boreas, I have heard of a few conserved areas where they manage habitat like that. My takeaway is that ecosystems are so complex that there are no perfect answers. We are only human, after all. Bird people are big on creating young forest habitat, at least here in the Northeast. In Europe, there are some preserves that are essentially artificial meadows created by annual mowing or burning; I believe that sometimes this is done for small invertebrates (insect diversity has been a bigger point of contention in central Europe than elsewhere, it seems). Plant conservation as we know it in North America, on the other hand, is quite different.

              I think that the genesis of all conservation in North America does essentially go back to the push for forest preservation in the second half of the nineteenth century, as we were facing the prospect of losing our forests to industrial logging. Thus, government and private conservation movements really owe a debt of gratitude to the scientists who organized around the rallying cry of protecting those forests. In that respect, the Adirondack Park is basically the world’s largest plant preserve.

              And it makes perfect sense that we have such a unique preservation ethic in our region if we consider that New York State was the center of “modern” botany in the Western hemisphere: Asa Gray hailed from Oneida County (“the fairest of lands”), and John Torrey from New York City. Also, of course, the de facto “Adirondack fathers”, Charles Sprague Sargent and Franklin B. Hough, were upstate New York forest enthusiasts.

              More than a century later, I subscribe to the belief that “forever wild” has fared well, despite the detractors. As a plant person, I admit that I am biased, and I acknowledge that people need to sustain themselves; industrial agriculture is not going anywhere anytime soon. And you are right to point out that forests are not the only type of plant community that exists in New York State and that needs to be preserved. But the beauty of dunes, barrens and alvars is that they will usually stay that way if we just let them be. Other than that, the traditional wisdom is that forests are the natural ecosystem in the Northeast, and that forests in combination with natural disturbance, floodplains and wetlands have been enough to sustain an incredible diversity of species for thousands of years, until about 400 years ago, or a few centuries longer if we are to believe the reports of the earliest explorers encountering man-made meadows and Iroquois burning practices.

              There is no doubt that all of this continues to be debatable. We have reached a starkly different equilibrium than the one that dominated in the thousands of years before us. There are species of plants and animals that have gone extinct and others that have thrived in unprecedented numbers in our agricultural lands and successional forests. Nothing has been unaffected. Weather patterns have changed and diversity in all domains of life has been completely reshaped in ways that we have not necessarily intended (for example, we have increased by orders of magnitude the number of outlawed Psilocybe growing wild in our state; the infamous mushrooms are not forest species, and thus, prefer to grow on our front yards, or as one notorious monograph points out, “in front of courthouses”). All of this is to say that sometimes the best course of action entails making the world a little bit simpler and letting nature take its course, for, in the end, the branch that yields is stronger than the branch that resists.

              • Zephyr says:

                I am really torn with the talk of “invasive species.” What really is an invasive species? Humans are the ultimate in invasives. We originated in Africa, spread all over the world, and are now destroying the climate of earth. Eradicate! What moment in time do we choose as the right one to decide which species are native and which are invasive? If you go back far enough, every species on earth is invasive.

              • Boreas says:

                JB,

                Another complication as I have mentioned in posts in other threads is that many scientists believe we have been in the midst of a large extinction event over the last few thousand years or so. It is hard to tease out the diversity loss from this older background loss from the accelerated losses as a result of climate change – especially since we do not even have much of a handle on all species currently present that remain uncatalogued. If we do not have areas that are essentially NOT managed, we essentially have no “controls” in the big experiment of mankind’s so-called dominion over the world.

                I hope I didn’t mow over any psilocybin last week…

              • JB says:

                Boreas, Ha! Yes, good thinking to be careful while mowing near psilocybin. I once had a friend who would carefully mow around all mushrooms so that I could later stop by to “investigate”. What remarkable “sportsmanship” this gentleman had!

                geogymn, great! I would be curious to know the history. Is it a nursery tree or a relic of a surviving population?

                Zephyr, you have touched upon a big point of contention in modern botany. With all of its internationalized nomenclature and taxonomic tussles, the new science can often appear to be an unnecessary exercise in anthropocentric classification of entities that can not be properly represented and understood by any human epistemology. Why should Westerners get to define our global understanding of the natural world, in Latin, of all languages?

                One rebuttal to that is that Linnaeus’ nomenclature, and Gray’s taxonomy, work remarkably well to bring North American flora into context within the known flora of the world, which provides valuable insights into our own local ecosystems–like uniqueness, commonality, rarity, popularity, endemicity, effects of environmental conditions, effects of human interference, and, yes, invasiveness. As conceited as it sounds, in the Global South, modern botany is slowly helping to fill voids left by the erosion of certain systems of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and losses in biodiversity wrought by globalization and colonialism–an unfortunately ironic reality. On the contrary, in totalitarian industrial nations, we can see the results of a rejection of this internationally cooperative science. For example, we know that habitat is being lost in the ecoregion that overlaps the borders of Russia, China and North Korea–the world’s northernmost unglaciated refugia and the most biodiverse in North Asia (“Ussuri broadleaf”)–but there is little knowledge of exactly what species are present and how that is changing, due to the lack of general agreement and cooperation between some very capable botanists who are clearly stifled by the scrutiny of the ruling ultranationalist regimes. That is always my takeaway, at least, when reading botanical and mycological literature from the Russian Far East and China (I’ve given up on finding stuff to decipher from North Korea). In that part of the world, in particular, there are a lot of conflicting unilateral proclamations: “this species is undoubtedly native to our great country”. And be prepared to painstakingly cross reference a lot of different names, in many different languages, for the same species.

                (I will also digress to point out that there has in recent decades been a great deal of overharvesting of plants, animals and fungi worldwide, even necessitating laws on the books here in New York state, to feed the insatiable demands for rare species affected by a novel ultranationalist Chinese syncretic folk religion that is a far cry from the traditional systems of both the Han Chinese and ethnic and indigenous minorities. I have been informed by Native American wild ricers and nut harvesters that China has consistently bought out most of their harvest in recent years. Interestingly, Trump had briefly remedied that with his tariffs and nationalist belligerence, but it was not long before a pandemic, evidently brought to us from those very Chinese markets, subsequently managed to accelerate in our own country a burgeoning tribal New Ageism that has turned in panic-buying droves to those same imperilled species as talismanic panaceas for an impetuous fear. Now, the fifth consecutive year of climatically abominable drought and flooding has all but wiped out the coveted harvests. I’ll defer from venturing for a simple moral to this story.)

                Finally, there are indeed some serious shortcomings and pitfalls of modern scientific thought. I will not bore you with too much of that discussion, but I will mention that there are some famous examples of arguments about which species are “native” vs. “invasive”. The establishment has gotten it wrong before, and they undoubtedly still do. Hence, I really prefer not to think about things in those terms. Rather, I prefer to think in terms of ecosystems–that is, “weediness” instead of “invasiveness”, “obligate” instead of “native”. In this way, I hope to focus not towards determinations of where and when things came from (although that does have value in and of itself), but towards understanding the interconnectedness of species with one another, their environment, and us humans–us humans, who ventured from the plains of Africa to the forests of Europe and beyond and back again, and finally to here, as colonizers of a New World, where we live under an imposed Ancient Greek system of government, speaking a syncretic Latinized language about a science built upon a Hellenic world view, neonates in a primeval biosphere who cannot seem to understand even ourselves, and the very things which we destroy.

          • geogymn says:

            If you want to see an American Chestnut in its full glory, I just was shown one by the owner of “Hart’s Hill Inn” in Whitesboro, NY. Said tree is on said premises. The amount of mast on this tree is astounding!

  7. Tom Paine says:

    Thank you for admitting Dave what most already knew to be true. Your ultimate goal is an Adirondack Park completely “Forever Wild” classification. So when you come to the table we are absolutely clear your intentions are not to work with any of the user groups or park villages, towns or counties as you and the Environmental lobby claim when the cameras are running. Again, thank you for your truthful thoughts.

  8. Steve B. says:

    I’d be curious if any studies have ever been done comparing the Adirondacks with the North Maine Woods, an area roughly 4 times the size, that is and has been an area seeing intense logging. There’s as well as great deal of recreational activity in this region and it remains a vast and protected area , yet utilized well it seems. I’d be curious what kind of carbon accumulation it can provide ?. Certainly it’s a completely different concept for management than how NY went.

  9. Zephyr says:

    North Maine Woods = 3.5 million acres. Adirondack Park = 2 million acres. So maybe the North Woods is 1.75 times the area of the Adirondack Park. I think they claim something like 100,000 visitors a year to the North Woods, while it is claimed 7-12 million visit the Adirondack Park each year. Hard to compare them directly.

    • Steve B. says:

      I hate and love the internet. I had seen a site that stated 10.7, now see 3.5. I was actually surprised at the 10 figure, it seems about the same as the Daks.

      NMW has zero settlements, so if you visit and stay, it’s camping or one of the few interior camps. Thus fewer visits. I was mostly curious as to the enviromental differences in similarly sized areas, one where about 50% of the area has been basically left alone for over 100 years, the other where there has been a reasonable amount of human interaction in the form of logging.

    • Rob says:

      The Adirondack Park is 6 million acres in size, roughly evenly split between public and private ownership.

      • Zephyr says:

        Ha! You’re right. I was thinking of public lands, but I think there might be closer to 3 million acres of public land then. Makes me wonder what the correct numbers are for Maine’s North Woods. I know there has been talk from time to time of creating a National Park up there, and I bet it would become a popular one that would generate economic activity in an area that doesn’t have much happening outside of logging.

  10. Stan Scharf says:

    I am about 2/3 of the way through an almost one thousand page book on NY state Governor and United States President Theodore Roosevelt entitled :T.R. “Wilderness Warrior.” A very lively read putting you back in time to the genesis of Article XIV, almost all of the western National Forests, National Monuments,
    and Wildlife Refuges………..
    http://douglasbrinkley.com/books/the-wilderness-warrior/

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