After nearly three centuries of damage by of flood, wind storm, wildfire, invasive species, climate change and the omnipresent threat of development, the Adirondack forests of 2009 are considered "the most continuous they have been in over 150 years" according to the Adirondack Atlas published by the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Although stressed by disease, damaged soils and an assortment of airborne pollutants, the state's forested lands have proven surprisingly resilient. Forests regenerate after damage, it's a component of nature restoring itself.
The Adirondack Park currently contains some of the largest stands of virgin forest east of the Mississippi. Beginning in the early 1870's, the state began acquiring nearly 2,000 parcels of forested lands with a combined total of nearly 1.3 million acres that held either virgin forest or lands that were once lightly cut for spruce according to research by the late, Barbara McMartin.
As a result of the state's aggressive land acquisition programs, which have been accomplished through both outright fee purchase and conservation easements, the amount of protected acreage in the Adirondack Park is currently at an all-time high.
However, despite the collective force of dozens of advocacy groups pressing for preservation, the park remains a disjointed conglomeration of independent private and public parcels of land.
Although it has often been considered a model as one of the country's oldest and most successful parks, the Adirondack region does not offer an extensive and seamless wilderness. Rather, the park features a varied assortment of lands dispersed around a variety of small communities.
It has been said that a park with permanent residents can never become more than a trial wilderness due to the infrastructure of roads and power grids. The dispersed communities divide the landscape and disrupt the connectivity which is vital to a true wilderness.
Light and sound pollution do not respect the boundaries established by zoning. Neither do migrating or invasive species of flora, fauna and an annual influx of millions of visitors.