December 15, 1936 – Raymond Torrey to Frederick T, Kelsey

  • December 15, 1936 – Raymond Torrey to Frederick T. Kelsey (Pres. Adirondack Mountain Club, NYC) –

Dear Mr. Kelsey,

I read with interest and concern the statements attributed to you, in the New York newspapers of December 6, as having been made at the ski conference in Albany December 5, to the effect that adequate ski trails be constructed under the supervision of the Conservation Department. You are also quoted as saying that widening the ski paths as in other states is impossible at present under Article VII, Section 7, of the State constitution. I suppose this matter will come up at the annual meeting of the Adirondack Mountain Club, in January. I think it is going to be earnestly debated by members who are disturbed, as I have been, by your statements, if they express the views of a majority of the Board of Governors.             Now, as a charter member of the club, and as a citizen interested in the maintenance of the wild forest character of the State Forest Preserve, I would like to know what you mean by ‘adequate ski trails,’ and ‘widening ski paths,’ if you actually used these phrases, as quoted. I have not heard of any desire, from other parts of the state, for widened ski paths, of by that is meant paths 30 to 100 feet wide, as in other states, as far as the State Forest Preserve land is concerned. There seem to be ample developments in the Adirondacks, on private land, existing or to be opened this winter, within reach of the cities of the state, for such downhill ski paths, for the more expert skiers. As far as leadership in winter sports is concerned, while New England, by reason of peculiar advantages, may have led therein, it seems to me that New York State is fast catching up, to judge from increase in ski facilities, and I do not see any reason for alarm over the situation. The private land developments on Gore Mountain and at Ticonderoga seem to be supplying needs for adequate ski facilities in the central and upper part of the state to say nothing of others in the western part, in the Catskills, etc., and state parks, like Bear Mountain, are giving the New York City population ample facilities. Where do you want to see anything more, to meet present and immediate futures needs? Private enterprise is evidently rising to the situation and facilities are increasing with demand.

You apparently mean, if correctly quoted, that more wide ski paths should be constructed on state forest; and, although I noticed, in the newspaper reports of the Albany meeting, that Mr. Howard suggested use of the reforestation areas, outside of the Adirondack Park, for skiing. It seems to me that the Adirondack Mountain Club, on the basis of its original purpose and of positions taken from time to time, in support of the wilderness character of the Forest Preserve, should go slowly in the direction of supporting any weakening of Section 7 of Article VII of the State Constitution, with a revision of the Constitution in prospect in 1938, when selfish interests may try to weaken Sections 7, for ulterior purpose. It seems to me this is the time for the Adirondack Mountain Club to stand firm with other conservationists interested in the integrity of the forest preserve. If there were any pressing need for wider ski paths, in the forest preserve, anywhere, there might be room for argument, but where is there such need? I would appreciate your advice as to just what you meant, if you were correctly quoted, as to adequate ski trails, in order that I may be guided as to action at the annual meeting in January. I know that the statements attributed to you have caused some questioning as to the position of the club, at this critical time, and even the suggestion that if the club is not to be a means of defense of Section 7, as was intended in its beginnings, there is little use for conservationists to remain in it longer. It has had hard sledding anyway,, to keep up membership and influence, in recent years, and if it is thought that it stands for weakening of Section 7, it will suffer further from a gradual leakage of good members, disgusted because they think it has failed to carry out its original objectives.

Very truly yours,

Raymond H. Torrey