I think of Adirondack conservationist and forever wild advocate Paul Schaefer (1908-1996) during deer season, actually in any season, but particularly in deer season at his Adirondack cabin. From 1921 on, over a century now, Paul Schaefer and his family, friends and hunting club comrades in the Cataract Club ventured into the wilderness from cabins in the Adirondack mountains. Some of them stayed in deer camp during big game season, others came and remained in the area for a lifetime. Physically, Paul frequently came and went for 75 years, but his spirit lingered in the mountains and cabin country, as he called it. Friends my age and I only knew him in his final decade. I wish that I could have known him as his family, Adirondack neighbors and hunting companions knew him, in full vigor, ever alert, loping, climbing and watching through the big woods, hills and ledges of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness, searching for the “sagacious and graceful” white-tailed deer.
Posts Tagged ‘Paul Schaefer’
Making waves for clean water: A look back to 1972
An influential film highlighted Adirondack rivers
As the Adirondacks celebrates the 50th anniversary of the nation’s Clean Water Act (1972-2022), I thought to thumb through a set of old reports to find out what the nonprofit advocate Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks was doing or thinking about at the origins of the Clean Water Act during 1972.
So much of a groundbreaking environmental nature was happening in 1972 that shared the spotlight with the national Clean Water Act. Here is a small sampling from the Association’s 1972 report, authored by its president at the time Arthur Crocker, and by its vice president Paul Schaefer:
From the Mountain They Call Thunder’s Nest: An Adirondack poet
Throughout our region author Sandra Weber appears in the summer to tell tales of Remarkable Women of the Adirondacks. One of the remarkable women she features is the “poet Jeanne Robert Foster.”
Eileen Mach has similarly studied and expertly performed Jeanne Robert Foster many times in our area, including her production of Voice of the Mountains: Jeanne Robert Foster, an Adirondack Legacy.
Noel Riedinger-Johnson edited Adirondack Portraits – A Piece of Time (1986, Syracuse University Press). The jacket cover reads:
A Conversation with Wilderness Champion Paul Schaefer
A 1993 conversation between Friends of the Forest Preserve founder and 20th century Adirondack wilderness coalition leader Paul Schaefer (1908-1996) and Kathy Hargis is one of the best, short interviews Schaefer ever gave. Just 25 minutes long, the interview is accessed at www.adirondackwild.org/media/videos and scrolling down to Adirondack Wild: A Conversation with Paul Schaefer.
Between 1931 and 1996, Paul Schaefer substantively influenced the Adirondack attitudes and actions of nine New York Governors, all their conservation commissioners, and many state legislative leaders. Governors Nelson Rockefeller (1966) and Mario Cuomo (1994) personally attended ceremonies to recognize Paul’s many Adirondack achievements.
Paul Schaefer and the making of an Adirondack map
The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks had hired me the previous winter. It was now the spring of 1987. Windows and doors were again opening to the hope and then the reality of spring’s warmth. The director of the Schenectady Museum William (Bill) Verner had given me, practically rent free, a desk and telephone from which to begin work as the Association’s first executive director in over 60 years.
It helped that Bill was a member of my board of trustees, and that his knowledge and love for the Adirondacks and Adirondack history from a home base in Long Lake was long and deep.
David Gibson to give Paul Schaefer talk at Union College
Adirondack Conservation – Paul Schaefer and Links in a Long, Historic Chain with David Gibson
September 30, 2021
(Rain Date October 7, 2021)
Kelly Adirondack Center Amphitheater
897 St. David’s Lane, Niskayuna
This event is free and open to the public.
As the years go by, let us never forget that Paul Schaefer and his allies during the 20th century saved the Forest Preserve and the integrity of our 19th century ‘forever wild’ constitution for current generations. His victories over those who would exploit the Forest Preserve were never assured. This program will review how Schaefer and allies did it, what we owe them today, and how we try to extend their legacy in the 21st century.
Paul Schaefer (right) with his mentor John S. Apperson in the Adirondacks
photo by Howard Zahniser
The End of Arbitrary Powers to Dam Adirondack Rivers
The State Legislature has just adjourned, but on a good many nights this past month I grew sleepy watching legislative TV or legislative proceedings on the internet. For the non-debate pieces of legislation, meaning when the legislative majority is not allowing minority debate on bills, the viewer is treated to the following exchanges in a monotone, one after the other: The speaker or his representative, or the Senate president or her representative: “The clerk will read the bill.” The clerk: “a bill to” …whatever it does. The speaker or his representative: “The clerk will read the final section.” The clerk: “this act shall take effect immediately.” The speaker, president or their representative: “The vote: 63 in favor. The bill is passed.” All of that has taken less than ten seconds. Next.
Elk Lake: The First Adirondack Conservation Easement
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s website reveals that 777,206 acres of private land in the Adirondack Park are protected by a state-owned conservation easement. During the Adirondack Park Centennial year of 1992 there were 93,000 acres of private lands under state-owned easement in the Park.
That number jumped to 250,000 acres early in this century as the former pulp and paper companies in the Park, such as International Paper, Champion International and Domtar, all negotiated easements under the state’s program. Lyme Timber acquired many of these eased holdings in the 21st century and is now the largest private forest landowner in the Park.
The Finch, Pruyn Company also sold just under 100,000 acres of private lands under conservation easement in 2007 (plus about 60,000-acres that has become Forest Preserve). The acreage under easement has steadily grown since then. And that doesn’t even count all of the private easements negotiated and acquired by groups such as the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, Adirondack Land Trust, Lake Placid Land Conservancy, Champlain Area Trails, and others.
Driving the Northway with Paul Schaefer
As the decade of the 1990’s began, noted Adirondack conservationist and wilderness coalition leader Paul Schaefer’s eyesight was failing. He had macular degeneration. We had noticed that this skilled carpenter, home and cabin builder and historic restorationist was no longer hitting the nail squarely on its head.
We worried about him continuing to drive. Some of us were eager to drive him to meetings or to his Adirondack cabin and, increasingly, he accepted our invitations. He had a lot to say to those who drove him or sat with him in his living room or at his Adirondack cabin before a blazing fireplace. Paul liked his fires hot.
His larger-than-life experiences, salted with many humorous moments, crackled along with the logs in his hearth. Paul laughed heartily in recounting his adventures, and those of us privileged to sit with him joined right in.
Adirondack Wild Presents 2020 Wilderness Award
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve has presented its 2020 Paul Schaefer Wilderness Award, the organization’s highest honor, to Kevin Chlad, Director of Government Relations for the Adirondack Council, with offices in Elizabethtown and in Albany.
Adirondack Wild has admired Kevin’s work for a number of years,” said Adirondack Wild’s managing partner David Gibson. “We’ve worked with him as part of a coalition of Adirondack groups and we’ve noticed how he steers citizen advocacy for the Adirondack Park in very productive directions, just as Paul Schaefer used to do. He puts himself in the shoes of others and lets them take the credit to advance Park goals. That was Paul Schaefer’s way of accomplishing great things for the Adirondacks.”
In 1969, Citizens Saved the Upper Hudson from Destruction
Fifty springs ago, the Upper Hudson River was conserved as a wild, free flowing river. The Schenectady Gazette’s writer Pete Jacobs reported the news in the April 17, 1969 edition of that newspaper:
“Without opposition, the Assembly gave swift approval to legislation prohibiting the construction of the Gooley Dam on the Upper Hudson River, branded by conservationists as a threat to the wild river country.”
In addition to Gooley, the bill blocks construction of any reservoirs on the river from Luzerne to its source in the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.
A Partnership For Wilderness, 1946-2018
In July 1946, Howard and Alice Zahniser drove with their children to the Adirondacks for the first time. Howard had started work as the first executive of The Wilderness Society in Washington D.C. the year prior. Howard would begin drafting the federal Wilderness Act of 1964 (66 drafts in all) from a cabin he acquired in the Adirondacks.
Howard kept a journal of his first trip to the Adirondack Park. The rest of us know about it thanks to his son Ed Zahniser’s small book, Where Wilderness Preservation Began – Adirondack Writings of Howard Zahniser (Ed Zahniser, Editor., North Country Books, 1992). For 72 years the extended Zahniser family, now including the fourth generation, has returned to the same place in the Adirondacks. This August I held a cook-out to welcome them back. » Continue Reading.
Exhibit: 20th Century Adirondack Park Conservation Movement
Grassroots Activism and the American Wilderness: Pioneers in the 20th Century Adirondack Park Conservation Movement, a new exhibit featuring material from the John S. Apperson and Paul Schaefer collections, will be on display in the Lally Reading Room of Union College’s Schaffer Library through December.
The collections, spanning from 1899 to 1996, provide a window into the history of the American environmental movement and the tensions that erupted over efforts to conserve the Adirondack Forest Preserve and expand the Adirondack Park. The materials also give a broader understanding of the history of national park and wilderness preservation and the critical role activism played in those efforts. » Continue Reading.
A Historic Defeat For Forest Preserve Exploiters
During his years as a senior advisor to many younger Adirondack conservationists, Paul Schaefer told some interesting stories. He witnessed the following incident in the New York State Legislature in 1953, when he was about 45-years-old, at the height of his effectiveness as a conservation organizer. The following story is about passage of what was called the Ostrander Amendment, an amendment to Article 14, Section 1 – the “forever wild clause” – of the New York State Constitution.
In 1953, the Ostrander Amendment had been twice passed by the State Assembly and the bill was on the floor of the State Senate, then being chaired by Lieutenant Governor Frank Moore. The Clerk of the Senate began to read the bill when a State Senator came up to the Lt. Governor’s desk, grabbed the bill from the Clerk, and quickly left the Senate Chamber. The Lt. Governor sent one of his aides after him and as the aide rushed out of the Senate chamber, he saw the Senator headed into a washroom. Following him, the aide found the State Senator about to flush the bill down the toilet. The aide, a big man, grabs the Senator by the collar, snatches the bill from his grasp and takes it back to the Senate Chamber and hands it back to the Lt. Governor, who said, according to Paul, “the next man who tries to take this bill I will personally hit with this gavel.” » Continue Reading.
Paul Schaefer’s ‘Whole Scheme of Life’
My father Howard Zahniser wrote the following in his monthly Nature Magazine book review column in 1945, the year before he first met Paul Schaefer and first came to the Adirondacks. Nevertheless, Paul would have been one of the “few of those” my father invokes:
“Many of us seldom get, or take, the opportunity to sense the magnitude of the whole scheme of Life of which we are only a part. We know only the rush of human events, and we seldom even challenge the presumption of those who call this rush the march of time. Only a few of those who are in the midst of this rush, and it includes us all, can ever be expected to break pace long enough to fall in step with the greater procession that moves through the natural seasons.” » Continue Reading.
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