- April 3, 1922 – Report of the Adirondack Mountain Club in response to motion by Warwick Carpenter – “Mountain Slope Protection and Recreational Development in the Adirondacks”
Report on the Motion of W. S. Carpenter
At a meeting of the Adirondack Mountain Club in New York City on April 3, 1922, Mr. W. S. Carpenter presented a motion and memorial relating to the policy of the State in acquiring lands in the Adirondacks. The motion, together with the memorial containing the sponsor’s argument, was referred to the Conservation Committee. The motion is as follows:
I move that the Adirondack Mountain Club adopt as its immediate conservation program the protection of the high, steep, forested slopes of the Adirondacks from further devastation, and the consolidation under State ownership of both land and water in the region between Ampersand Mountains and McComb and Dix Mountains, in so far as this can be done with money now available or hereafter to be obtained, areas already seriously cut being excepted from acquisition until such time as their special fire menace has passed and that the Club’s officers use every proper means to secure the consummation of these objects by the constituted State authorities.
The motion concerns the policy of selecting lands for purchase under the authority of the bond issue of 1916. It is very specific in its terms. It urges a policy that any money now available or that may hereafter be obtained be devoted to the acquisition of forested lands on the high slopes in the region between Ampersand Mountain and McComb and Dix Mountains. The areas (presumably in this same region) that have been seriously cut are to be excepted from acquisition until the fire risk has passed. Inferentially no purchases are to be made in other portions of the Adirondack Preserve or in the Catskills until all the lands desired in the mountain region above specified have been acquired. The Adirondack Mountain Club is asked to lend the weight of its influence to induce the state authorities to adopt and carry out this policy.
The Committee has given consideration to the motion through correspondence and in its meeting in New York on September 7. There is no difference of opinion in regard to the urgency of bringing under public ownership as soon as possible those areas which have the greatest influence in the stabilizing of the run-off of water and of the areas that are of exceptional scenic value, The majority of the Committee do not fail, however, to recognize that other lands within the Preserve are also of great importance to the public and must be given consideration in a broad program that looks to the ultimate acquisition of the bulk of land within and adjacent to the Park. To the majority such an exclusive policy of acquisition as is proposed in Mr. Carpenter’s motion seems unwise.
The legislation authorizing the appropriation for the extension of the state holdings was very broad in its terms. It did not specify that the purchases should be confined to any single class of land or to a single portion of the preserve. Nor did the law indicate that consideration should be given to any one or two public benefits. Very wisely the Legislature provided the executive machinery and left the interpretation of the public needs and the policy of selecting lands to the administrative officers. Under this broad authority the Conservation Commission and land Board have acquired or are in the process of acquiring over $350,000 acres. These new acquisitions include lands in the high mountains and ands in other sections. Some are virgin forests obtained at high cost, some are culled forests, some heavily cut, some burned.
It should be recognized that an efficient organization charged with the responsibility of building up a public forest by purchase has many problems to consider in using the available funds in a way to secure the largest possible returns in service to the people. The needs for strategic areas in fire protection in different parts of the Preserve, the control of rights of way, the opportunity for recreation service, the element of cost, the problems of administration of wildlife as well as of forest management, the opportunity to save well established stands of young growth, and finally the regulation of the melting snows and control of run-off water in all parts of the Adirondacks, are factors that must be kept constantly in mind in weighing the advantage of one tract over another, and in judging the wisdom of a specific purchase object. The men best qualified to judge these matters are the experts on the ground, the Conservation Commissioner, the Land Board, the Superintendent of State Forests, all of whom pass on each project. These men are familiar with the problem of the whole Forest Preserve and have before them the facts regarding all the tracts that may and should be acquired. It is believed that they should continue to have the broadest authority in the exercise of their judgment in selecting lands for purchase.
Accordingly the undersigned majority of the Conservation Committee report adversely upon the Motion of Mr. Carpenter and recommend against its adoption.
Signed: Henry S. Graves (Chairman)
- A. Gaylord
- S. Houghton
- B. Recknagel