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Feb 24, 2021 - Wed
Bolton United States
Wind 3 m/s, SSW
Pressure 753.81 mmHg
40°F
overcast clouds
Humidity 49%
Clouds 90%
wed02/24 thu02/25 fri02/26 sat02/27 sun02/28
37/39°F
30/13°F
34/24°F
39/38°F
38/38°F
Feb 24, 2021 - Wed
Bolton United States
Wind 3 m/s, SSW
Pressure 753.81 mmHg
40°F
overcast clouds
Humidity 49%
Clouds 90%
wed02/24 thu02/25 fri02/26 sat02/27 sun02/28
37/39°F
30/13°F
34/24°F
39/38°F
38/38°F

Adirondack Bartlett

Unlike many who have shaped the debate about the Adirondacks over the decades, the late Dick Bartlett, whose death we report in this issue, was a true outdoorsman. He was a member of the famed Gooley Club and, he once remarked, owned more guns than any single individual needed. It is probably because he was a hunter (as well as fisherman, sailor and boater) that in his second term as Warren County’s  assemblyman, he introduced legislation that would have dedicated 60% of the Adirondack Forest Preserve to fish, game and their stalkers, the individual hunter. “Our main problem in the Adirondacks,” he said when introducing his legislation in 1962, “is the gradual deterioration of the deer herd.”  Sustaining the deer population would require “limited cutting to promote the growth of reachable browse” and to provide  “reasonable access to our deer country for hunters.” Zoning the Adirondack Forest Preserve for various activities was an idea that had been promoted since the 1940s and it reared its head again at the state’s 1967 constitutional convention, to which, by the way,  Bartlett was a delegate. A measure very much like Bartlett’s was introduced by an Albany County Democrat, replete with support from professional foresters. It was defeated by a vote of 152 to 18, no doubt for the same reasons that Bartlett’s own legislation died: the cutting of timber, however limited in  scope and for whatever beneficial purposes,  violates the spirit of the constitution’s Forever Wild clause. The legislation was important though, because while the idea of zoning the Forest Preserve may have been an idea whose time had come, Bartlett’s bill was the first to introduce a comprehensive zoning plan for the preserve . His plan, as well as the recommendations of the Joint Legislative Committee on Natural Resources, influenced the work of  Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondacks, which in turn produced the State Land Use Master Plan, adopted in 1972. The Master Plan divides the Forest Preserve into categories ranging from the most to the least restrictive, and debates about how much of the forest preserve should be left untouched by the hand of man and how much should be as accessible as possible still rage. Only last week, the on-line magazine Adirondack Almanack hosted a discussion about the extent to which newly acquired Forest Preserve lands should accommodate the old, the disabled and the inexperienced so as to be more “inclusive” than in the past. Give Dick Bartlett credit for playing a role in getting that discussion started. Bartlett will be remembered for many achievements, notably for reforming the penal code and the state’s court system, as obituaries in the New York Law Journal and other publications remind us. Even more important, to us, is that he demonstrated that one can have a satisfying professional career, one with immeasurable influence, without loosening the ties that bind one to one’s native region. Bartlett probably viewed his role in the evolution of Adirondack policies as a relatively insignificant aspect of his career. By the time the Adirondack Park Agency bill came before the legislature, he had left the Assembly. He was not enamored of the new agency, but he was not among its opponents. That being said, we thought this other contribution of his to New York State should be among those  we remember and remain grateful for.