July 1941 – Report to the Members of the Forest Preserve Association



It is now generally recognized that real conservation is vital to national preparedness and that our annual informative meetings have been highly beneficial both directly and indirectly in this field of endeavor. Unfortunately, we are now so fully occupied with special problems that our meeting will have to be delayed until autumn or possibly postponed until next year.

Some of the more important problems deserving attention by those who can and will take action are:

1) The proposed amendment to Article XIV, Section 1 of the New York State Constitution to permit the construction of twenty miles of 80 ft. wide ski runs on Whiteface Mountain, will be voted on by the electorate this fall. Our Association feels that this tree-cutting proposal will be harmful to the mountain by accelerating the loss of soil and the vegetation and the destruction of esthetic values. We consider the amendment unnecessary since ample ski trails have already been cut in this section of the state, and the public would derive greater benefit if the existing trails were improved. In both construction and maintenance, the proposed new trails will be expensive. A few years later when the taxpayer has recovered from current deficit expenditures, such a project would be more reasonable and these trails might then be more in demand.

To fully inform the public on this proposed amendment will require more organized effort than our group can provide at this time. Any who have time and means available for clarifying this issue will need to begin their activity very quickly.

2) After much effort, a soil conservation districting law (similar to the law in forty states) was adopted last year by New York State. Ten counties have since formed districts under this new act and similar districts are now under consideration in other New York State counties. Some leaders in old organizations which failed to further this vital work over a period of years are still discouraging the formation of these districts which are created and administered by farmers. All possible help should be given by conservationists to the farmers in this vital work.

3) 1941 has been another year of destructive forest fires and, as usual, the most damage occurred where the debris from tree-cutting operations was left on the ground. This flammable material produces intense heat, when fed by large quantities of debris. Such fires are difficult to fight. They not only consume the fertility of the soil but also in many instances kill both large and small trees. This would not occur if the debris were removed as required by our National Forests and many other publicly and privately owned forests here and in other countries. As long as the State Conservation Department sides with the opponents of fire slash disposal legislation there is little chance that this much-needed law will be enacted, but it should be kept fresh in the minds of all conservationists and secured in New York State as soon as possible. Fire is still the greatest enemy of vegetation and wild life.

4) The reopening of the old iron mines at Tahawus and the building of a new road along the shores of Sanford Lake, the southern entrance to the high peaks, has caused much apprehension on the part of mountain lovers. The development of a village and the encouragement to a highway north possibly through Indian Pass, constitute a real threat to the high peak region. But it does not at the moment appear possible to discourage such a project since the land now being traversed and developed is not a part of the forest preserve although it is surrounded by forest preserve land and is virtually in the center of the Adirondack Park.

5) The only sizable unsettled and unspoiled area on Lake George constituting the most famous lake scenery in eastern America is the region commonly known as the Narrows. After many years of effort, the western half of this masterpiece was acquired by the State in 1924. This acquisition comprises about ten miles of shore, 13,000 acres of land and one large island. The state legislature of 1941 appropriated funds to acquire the opposite half of the Narrows,, the east side, including Paradise Bay shore land, Elephant, Black, Erebus, Sleeping Beauty and Shelving Rock mountains, and numerous bays and natural scenic points along this rugged shore. Negotiations for its purchase are now underway and the owner’s lawyer wishes to reserve a mile or more of the shore at the terminus of the public road which constitutes the land entrance to this state park. People well acquainted with this neighborhood and the owner are very apprehensive that the retention of any land at the entrance would lead to inharmonious developments and encourage a thru highway (from Pilot Knob to Hewlett’s) along the shore. Such developments and a road would spoil the area as a whole; since the shore is very bold, houses would be conspicuous and a highway could not be hidden from the lake in many places. Moreover, the noise of traffic reverberating between the steep mountainsides thru this narrow passage would destroy the peace and tranquility now enjoyed by the public. This area is easily accessible by boats from both directions and those who know and admire this rare beauty spot feel very strongly that all roads and buildings should be excluded from the Narrows. In buying this long shore area, the state should acquire the land at the entrance .

6) Rather incidental to this larger problem but still in the minds of many is the preservation of Dome Island. Reducing the very serious fire hazard on the island has been done by individuals intermittently for two years, and part of the shore has been protected by stone. It is hoped that some way can be found to retain the wild character of this landmark permanently. We will strive to maintain our contacts with those who are similarly interested and remain, faithfully yours, JSA