"I’d love to see this important book be required reading for every New York State legislator and opinion-maker. Alive with personal voices, it is also packed with vital information and at times justifiably angry at what we human beings have done to the Adirondacks. It reminds us of what we’ve lost, of what we can still save, and of what a rare treasure this extraordinary region is."—Adam Hochschild, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa
The Adirondack region of New York State is, in many respects, America’s cauldron of conservation. It was there, more than a century ago, that wanton exploitation of forests first aroused concern about human impact on the environment. It was there that Americans first began to set aside lands proclaimed as “forever wild.” The establishment of the Adirondack Park created an immense landscape of 6 million acres composed of a mixture of public and private lands in nearly equal proportion. This unprecedented blend of human communities within wild lands makes the Adirondack Park perhaps one of the greatest case studies in conservation and development in U.S. history.
Representing a remarkable achievement in environmental scholarship and drawn from decades of research, The Great Experiment in Conservation captures the wisdom born of the last thirty years of the park’s evolution. The editors bring together leading scholars, activists, and practitioners—those who know the Park’s origin and the realities of living in a protected area—to narrate this history. Organized into three sections, contributors explore the ecological, cultural, and economic aspects of the region, drawing lessons from successes and failures as they struggle to find the right balance of private interests and public controls. With keen insight and deep passion, the authors reveal the Adirondack Park’s rich natural and cultural history in shaping conservation policy, providing vital contributions to the future study of land preservation.
Contributors include: Herman Daly, Bill McKibben, Barbara McMartin, Philip G. Terrie, Amy Vedder, and Bill Weber.
William F. Porter is professor of wildlife ecology and director of the Adirondack Ecological Center at SUNY ESF.
Jon D. Erickson is associate professor of ecological economics at the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, faculty of the Environmental Program, and fellow of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont.
Ross S. Whaley is emeritus president and professor of SUNY ESF. He is former chairman of the Adirondack Park Agency and served on the Governor’s Commission for the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century.