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Looking back, into the future

Notes from the North Woods

A huge, lone pine, which has managed to maintain a presence atop a rocky outcrop, in the middle of Cranberry Lake, despite the rigors of waves, weather and winter, offers a suitable symbol of the hardiness and stubborn nature of Adirondackers.

A huge, lone pine, which has managed to maintain a presence atop a rocky outcrop, in the middle of Cranberry Lake, despite the rigors of waves, weather and winter, offers a suitable symbol of the hardiness and stubborn nature of Adirondackers. Photo by Joe Hackett.

Eventually, the region rebounded as vast stores of natural resources were discovered and lumber, iron ore and a host of other organic products were again exploited.

The quantities of “long horned, whitetail” Adirondack beef that were shipped to urban markets, is startling. By the mid-1800’s, there were tons of Lake Champlain sturgeon, salmon, trout and black bass, salted and barreled for transport to the south. Eventually, they found willing buyers at the Fulton Fish in New York City.

Over time, the ongoing exploitation of the land and its natural resources eventually gave way to such unique concepts as wilderness protection and preservation.

Initially, these efforts were focused on the protection of watersheds necessary to fuel commerce on New York’s growing canal system, which were vital to the state’s economy.

Later, the importance of preserving forested lands was recognized for protecting the fresh water reservoirs necessary for the state’s ever expanding, urban populations.

However, by the late 1880’s, a movement began to preserve wilderness simply for the sake of the land itself. Again, the Adirondacks were on the rebound.

The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks was one of the original players on the field, but there were also a number of similar “protectionist” organizations established.

By the turn of the century, efforts were underway to protect and restock the depleted populations of moose, beaver, whitetail deer and black bear in the Adirondacks.

There was even ‘The Society to Protect Adirondack Spruce’, which was organized to prevent the over-harvesting of spruce which was used for camp ornamentation. In 1897, the Society’s brochure warned, “One can barely find a spruce tree along an Adirondack lake, larger in diameter than a man’s wrist!”

After enduring nearly centuries of cyclical exploration and cynical exploitation, there came a realization that the wild lands of the Adirondacks provided a unique benefit for human enhancement.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net

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