Editor's Note: The following is an abridged version of an essay on New York's "Forever Wild" clause.
I live and work in the Adirondack Park. A lot of the six million acres that make up this park is state-owned land under the control of the "Forever Wild" clause in New York State law. The issue of "Forever Wild" property retention by the state is now threatening our most important resource, healthy forests and their ecosystems. Times have changed and man's demand on resources is at a high. Right now, we have options for resource usage, but years down the road the options will become limited.
The "Forever Wild" idea was a very intelligent choice at the time when the careless destruction of forests was part of land use management practices in this vast northern area of the state during the 19th century. The forests had been clearcut for lumber, charcoal production, and agricultural purposes.
The watershed of the Hudson River, and thus New York City, was in danger of being destroyed by the haphazard logging practices. The "Forever Wild" ruling has kept development from happening, it allowed the reestablishment of vegetation for critical habitat areas, and it protected our fragile waterways and wetlands.
As much as not cutting trees sounds great to all, my education and experience in forestry has taught me that by doing nothing we our risking the very important resource we are trying to save. With abnormal weather patterns and the buildup of fuel on the forest floor, we could have a severe forest fire. There are no access roads since logging roads have been abandoned. There is no means of counteracting invasive species.
The poor past practices of high grading and clearcutting that were commonplace before the law was enacted, have left us with forests that grew back, but grew back unhealthy. We now have lots of trees, but the quality, species distribution, and health of the Adirondack forests has been lost. The "Forever Wild" law prohibits vegetation cutting and removal on all lands that fall within its bounds.