"Clarence Petty’s life reads like a history of the Adirondacks."—Choice
"Christopher Angus tells the story of Clarence Petty, who served as a wilderness guide in the Adirondacks and later became involved in the conservation movement to protect the region from overdevelopment. The story begins with his youth growing up in the woods, and continues through his days as a Navy pilot during WWII and his work with the Civilian Conservation Corps."—Booknews
"Clarence Petty is one of the most interesting and important people ever to carry a canoe, bushwhack through the backcountry, or dedicate his life to protecting the Adirondack wilderness. And he has lived through a period of high drama in Adirondack affairs. As it winds through this crucial era of the region's history, Christopher Angus's richly detailed account of Petty's life and times touches on the critical elements of decades of struggle to shape
the Adirondack Park and preserve the qualities that define it. . . . A powerful and inspiring story."—Philip G. Terrie, author of Contested Terrain: A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks, Second Edition
Author and naturalist Christopher Angus profiles for the first time the adventurous life of Clarence Petty, one of the great pioneer conservationists of the Adirondack Mountain region of New York State. Raised in the heart of the Adirondack wilderness between Tupper and Saranac Lakes, Petty overcame his humble beginnings and pursued a variety of careers as wilderness guide, forester, Civilian Conservation Corps camp director, World War II pilot, district ranger, and aerial forest-fire fighter—ultimately leaving his indelible mark as a lifelong advocate for the protection of the wilderness.
The story of Petty’s life reads like a Horatio Alger novel. His father moved to the mountains in the 1880s to work as a guide. His mother was a cook for one of the popular sportsmen’s hotels in the area. Young Clarence and his brothers enjoyed the kind of childhood freedom and independence that today’s youngsters can only dream about. Their father’s sense of self-reliance and their mother’s drive to educate her sons led all three to attend college.
Clarence followed a path of service to the American landscape. His influence on state policy regarding the Adirondack Park and especially its millions of acres of wilderness has been profound. His life story provides a window into the politics of conservation in the Adirondack region from the early days of the twentieth century to the present.
Christopher Angus writes essays, reviews, and commentary for many publications and is book review editor for Adirondac. He is the author of Reflections from Canoe Country: Paddling the Waters of the Adirondacks and Canada, published by Syracuse University Press.
6 x 9, 0 pages, 63 black and white illustrations