In the early 1970s, a group of lawyers, legislators and environmentalists gathered in Albany. They came to define an array of aesthetic ideals to determine how to best 'protect the park' in the future.
For a template, they used standards, terminology and language adapted from the Wilderness Act, which President Lyndon B. Johnson had signed on Sept. 3, 1964, to create the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Unfortunately for residents of the region, the cartel was composed of a group primarily of enthusiastic protectionists and energetic armchair outdoorsmen, whose boots had rarely mucked the mud of an Adirondack trail. Utilizing standards that had been developed for the federal legislation, the group devised a plan that exhibited little concern for the people that lived within the borders of the Blueline and professed even less regard for their traditions.
Soon after, the brain trust decided to modernize the venerable, old Conservation Department by renaming it the Department of Environmental Conservation. In short order, the agency became known locally as the 'Department of Eternal Consternation,' but the folks in Albany didn't seem to mind because "the times they were a' changing."
Nearly 40 years later, common sense finally collided with common ground in Ray Brook when environmental activists and local yokels, commissioners and common folk, lawyers and laymen finally stepped back and took notice of the nearly 4o years of blunders.
Fortunately, they all came together at a meeting of the Adirondack Park Agency and resolved that the long string of blunders should not be allowed to continue.
Park Agency Commissioners listened intently to the public's opinion and eventually came to the conclusion that two, historic fire towers, survivors of a vast network of sentinels that once stood guard over the land, should remain looming over the vast forests that they had once protected.
For over a century, the Adirondacks have managed to maintain the gentle balance of a vast wilderness that encompasses great woods and good people within its soaring peaks, raging rivers and solitary communities.
Fortunately, the region seems to be locked in a time warp where the authentic, small town, American culture still exists and it mixes easily with actual wild lands, where unfettered travel through remote woods and waters is still possible, for miles on end. Even though USA Today lists the region as one of the "Ten Great Places on Earth," fewer than 135,000 people are smart enough, and just plain stubborn enough, to call it home.
The iconic towers, which sit atop St. Regis and Hurricane Mountains, have not been officially utilized for decades. Despite their official abandonment, the towers continue to serve as a destination for generations of hikers and as a familiar landmark for residents.
Once considered nothing more than rusting remnants of their proud past, the towers will now represent a new hope for the future, where traditions are respected and residents have a seat at the table. The towers will stand tall to provide a visible and symbolic reminder that local voices can still be heard, howling from the wilderness.
In March 2005, the St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower was listed on the National Historic Lookout Register and in June 2007, the Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
There are indications that the Gulf Brook leanto, which had also been scheduled for removal, may be replaced, rehabilitated and relocated from its current location.
Now that they are paying attention, we should also remind the decision makers that locals have been drinking fresh, cold water that comes from mountain springs since the time when people actually knew King Philip personally...and nobody has died yet.
Outdoor events abound
around the region
Although winter's white cloak has returned to the mountain peaks, the rivers are running clear and the stocking trucks have been on the road. Spring is here and the trout are active on the ponds. Get out and enjoy some outdoor events in your area!
The Chesterfield Fish & Game Club Open House
Members of the revitalized Chesterfield Fish & Game Club welcome the public with an Open House event on Saturday, April 24, 2010. The 122 acre club is located at 359 Green Street in Clintonville, NY.
Since October 2009, members have refurbished and expanded facilities which include an improved outdoor archery range, a shot gun trap area, a 300-yard rifle range, and a heated indoor, pistol range.
The Open House will kick off with a Pancake Breakfast beginning at 8:30 am, but latecomers can also enjoy a hamburger or hotdog later in the day.
There will be a "shotgun" start to our Youth Fishing Derby at 9 am; bring a pole if you have one! Additional youth activities will include an Archery Clinic, a BB-Gun Shoot-out, and Trap Shooting.
Adults can try their luck and skill by Shooting the EGG or Putting an Arrow through the Floating Ball. Prizes will be awarded throughout the day.
Club meetings are hosted on the first Thursday of the month. The next meeting will occur at 7 p.m. March 4, 2010. New memberships are available. Currently, the club is planning to develop a youth program in archery and small bore rifle.
For membership information, please contact Bill Mitchell at 834-2051.
Hudson River Whitewater Derby
The 53rd Annual Hudson River Whitewater Derby will be hosted in North Creek on May 1-2.
The Johnsburg Fish and Game Club organized the event in North Creek in 1958. It began as a one-day eight-mile down river race with 25 boats representing 44 participants.
Despite running a deficit in the first year, organizers decide to expand the races to a two-day event that included a slalom race in addition to the downriver races the second year. In short order, the event achieved national status as a canoe competition.
By 1960, over 15,000 persons lined banks of the Hudson River to view 48 entries in the downriver classic and in 1962 the event drew canoe teams from Williams College, Norwich University, Penn State, Syracuse University, Paul Smith's College, Wanakena Ranger School, and other leading colleges and universities.
The event drew press coverage from Sports Afield and Life magazine and by 1965, nearly 18,000 spectators traveled to the tiny hamlet of North Creek to watch the show, as the 78 year old, paddling legend, Homer Dodge finished in second place. Dr. Dodge participated in his final competition in the 17th annual event, at age 87.
By the 10th year, the 1967 Derby drew extensive national press coverage as US Senator and Mrs. Robert Kennedy competed in the race. In 2007, the derby celebrated 50 years of success, a standard unrivaled by any other outdoor adventure event in the Adirondacks.
The1st Annual Adirondack
The 1st Annual Adirondack Adventure Festival will take place from April 30 - May 2 throughout the village of North Creek. Featuring exciting outdoor activities for the whole family, the event will include guided road and mountain bike rides, guided hikes, canoe and kayak demo to highlight the numerous outdoor adventures available throughout the region.
There will also be fly fishing demos, equipment displays, helicopter rides, live music and food and drink specials at various locations throughout town.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.