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“Forever Wild” Provision of the New York State Constitution (Constitutional Convention of 1894)

  • Daniel G. Payne
  • Richard S. Newman

Abstract

After years of concern about the effect of deforestation on the Adirondack Mountains, Governor David B. Hill signed into law Chapter 283 of the Laws of 1885, a measure that provided that several hundred thousand acres of stateowned land in the Adirondacks would be preserved as “forever wild.” The law was soon discovered to have loopholes large enough to (literally) drive a railroad through, and at New York’s Constitutional Convention of 1894, a group of conservationists led by Colonel David McClure, a delegate from New York City, spearheaded a successful effort to insert a true “forever wild” clause into the state constitution that provided protection for the largest forest preserve east of the Mississippi River. While the “Forever Wild” provision has been amended several times to provide for the needs of communities within the boundaries of the Adirondack Park, it endures as one of the most successful and far-reaching attempts by a state to preserve and expand its wilderness regions.

Copyright information

© Daniel G. Payne and Richard S. Newman 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel G. Payne
  • Richard S. Newman

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