Mount Marcy

Mount Marcy from the top of Haystack Mountain, 1919. New York State Archives.

Mount Marcy from the top of Haystack Mountain, 1919. Source: New York State Archives.

If you hike to the highest point in New York in the summer, chances are you will meet a Summit Steward at the top. Summit Stewards educate thousands of hikers every year about the rare and fragile alpine plant communities found at high elevations in the state. But summit stewards are not the only ones who have worked hard to protect the diverse lands and waters of the Adirondacks! The history of conservation in the Adirondacks goes back to the nineteenth century when New Yorkers began to worry about the impacts of human activity in the area. By 1894, the New York State Constitution declared that the lands of the Adirondack Forest Preserve “shall be forever kept as wild lands.” It has been no easy task to conserve the Adirondack Park, and throughout the Park’s existence there have been many conflicts over what exactly “Forever Wild” should mean, especially with the recent controversy over a swap of wilderness land with a mining company.