November 24, 1936 – JSA to James A. Foote

  • November 24, 1936 – JSA to James A. Foote (Natl. Parks Assn.)

My dear Mr. Foote:

The interest shown in your letter of the 20th is very encouraging and while it is somewhat difficult to answer your questions completely, I will do the best I can.

Why Mr. Hicks is holding a meeting is, in our opinion, for the purpose of leading the skiiers under the banner of the Adirondack Mountain Club, in the direction they have been working for several years, that is, to open up more trails in the high peak region for this kind of sport and while there are members in the Adirondack Mountain club not in accord with the extensive cutting proposed, nevertheless, they are a party to the plan, and other organizations not fully conversant with the developments that are sure to follow. A good example of this is the recent cutting on the Marcy Trail, so far not objectionable, but if such a trail is used for racing as now proposed, especially slalom racing, a wider trail and facilities for first aid and accommodations, with the opening of the road into Marcy Dam, which is not well built, will follow.

The second paragraph of your letter contains several questions. Some of which are already partially answered.

The professional group and commercial interests closely associated with each other and a part of the Hicks crowd, including the U. S. Eastern Amateur Association, and I say this without reflection whatsoever on the integrity of these people, want bigger, wider trails in the high peaks, and are already furthering the down hill racing from the top of the state as a great incentive for increasing the attendance in the Lake Placid territory. Your question about dog teams and ski shelters will, of course, follow. One or two accidents will necessitate such arrangements.

The Hicks conference is to be held in the Conservation Commission Hearing Rom No. 1, as you will note from the enclosed circular. It is also reported that the Commissioner and other officials of the Conservation Department will be present. The public are invited and, of course, that includes the Wilderness Society, although I am surprised they have not received a special invitation since Mr. Marshall is a prominent member of the Adirondack Mountain Club and it is known that his organization represents a very large group of people seriously interested in preserving the wilderness character of the Adirondacks.

You are correct in thinking that your comments and criticisms would be best set forth at Mr. Hicks’ meeting. Since our stand is very definite, the Trails Conference is committed in their articles of incorporation to the State Constitution. However, after learning firsthand of the intend and purpose of the Hicks meeting, it would seem very desirable t have a meeting afterwards and for the convenience of yourself, Mr. Marshall and others who come from a distance, I am trying to arrange a meeting on Sunday, December 6th. If conditions seem to make it possible to have such a meeting Saturday night to suit your convenience, it will be held at that time, but we have a very difficult problem and in my opinion it will require more time for deliberation than would be possible after the several meetings that take place on Saturday.

In closing, I would point out that just adherence to Article VII, Section 7 for any sentimental reason that appears to restrict too much the skier would not be successful. In my opinion we must take a more constructive attitude and pint out how the high peaks can be used by skiiers with great pleasure to them, and due consideration to others who also own these lands. In other words, the skiing in the high peaks should be referred to as different fro the skiing on lower lands, and especially private lands where no injustice is done to the other owners of that land, but all of this thought must be developed in the mind of the skier in such a way that he does not feel too restricted.

The unhappy part of the situation is that organizations like the Adirondack Mountain Club are very definitely lined up with the Hicks group, along with certain men in the Conservation Department, and should be separated in such a way that we know them to be on one side or the other when they appear in these discussions.

You have asked for a long letter and you now have it, and you should write me again if I have not made the situation clear as I see it. I will write you later of have someone else do so regarding the New York State Trails Conference meeting which will be informal and for those primarily interested in the ski problem.

Sincerely yours,