“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s
peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms
their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

— John Muir

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PACE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW

St. Regis

St Regis Tower

Starting out from the trail register, we stop to discuss beech bark disease and the devastating impact of this insect-fungal agent on Adirondack old-growth beech forests, en route to a breathtaking stop at snowy St. Regis Fire Tower.
Photographs ©2010 Ken Rimany

 

Engaging Students: Q&A with Hilary Atkin, Pace Law School

1. What led you personally to the study of environmental law and why is Nick Robinson and Phil Weinberg's course on the Forest Preserve of personal interest to you

I was led to the study of the environment for a few reasons. For one, I grew up in a beautiful farming community in MI, where I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy working and playing outdoors. This allowed me to feel a connection to nature, and drove me to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies, and then continue my studies of the environmental in law school. In addition, I became interested in advocating for a clean, healthy environment because my grandmother passed away from a long battle with cancer in her mid 50s. One of the clearest memories of my youth was hearing my grandfather blame himself for her death because he used chemicals on his farm. I have since been interested in the connections between environmental health and human health, and have been a strong advocate of progressive environmental policies. I was interested in Professor Robinson and Professor Weinberg's course primarily because they are both amazing scholars, professors, and advocates, and I wanted to take the opportunity to learn from them. I was also generally interested in the story behind Article XIV, and how it could be utilized to protect the Forest Preserves in the Catskills and the Adirondacks. I had spent time in both regions prior to taking the class, and being a flatlander in origin, was amazed by the beautiful scenery. Also, from working on the Riverkeeper watershed protection team for an internship during my first year of law school, I had heard a lot about the tensions between upstate and downstate residents, and wanted a better understanding of how that originated, with the hope that common ground could be found to engage more people in protecting the unique resources in the Catskills and Adirondacks.

2. Can you describe one or two key highlights of your field tour and interviews in the Adirondacks, and how the experience has been beneficial to your understanding of park and wild land law in the Adirondacks and NY State?

I thought the meetings with the DEC and APA were very helpful for getting some perspective on the Adirondacks, and what the major current concerns are in preserving the Forest Preserve. It is easy to read the words of Article XIV and get caught up in interpreting them, but forget the practical and human considerations that go into implementing those words. The presentation by Dan Kelting on the Watershed Institute at Paul Smith's College was also very interesting and useful to me. Water quality and quantity was a major concern in enacting Article XIV, yet from my research on agriculture in the Adirondacks it seems there is so much more that can, and arguably must, be done to protect water and fulfill the commands in Article XIV. The information presented, and the work being done, by Dan Kelting and the Watershed Institute should be used to inform Forest Preserve policy.

3. Was the hike up St. Regis Mountain meaningful to you in any way in regards to experiencing directly the concept of "forever wild?" If so, how? Have you gained some new ideas or direction for advancing your own legal research on wild land policy, law and practice?

The hike up St. Regis kind of confirmed my idea of what "wild" would be in the Adirondacks. Wild in the Adirondacks doesn't appear to mean devoid of human influence. There are marked trails, signs and roads. There is a fire tower at the top of the mountain. And we encountered about a dozen other people during the 8 mile trek. Although I had this picture in my head that "forever wild" should mean no accommodations to humans or sign of human presence, I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed the experience, and felt like such an experience shouldn't be cut off or made more difficult to fulfill the literal language of the NYS Constitution. Even the fire tower made the whole thing feel more real, like the mountain had a history that was connected to the people who have been living there for a few hundred years. At the same time, I did feel like I was experiencing wilderness. There were mountains, trees, and no residences as far as the eye could see. As far as gaining new ideas, I'm not sure if the hike did that for me. My paper is on agriculture, which has little to do with how to experience wilderness in the Adirondacks. Instead, I will be advocating for agricultural policies and programs that encourage agriculture but work to preserve wilderness within the purposes and mandates of Article XIV and have more of a long term feel.


Engaging Students: Adirondack Wild works with Pace University Law Seminar more >

Engaging Students: Q&A with Jessica Silver, Pace Law School more >

Engaging Students: Q&A with Jeff Auger, Pace Law School more >

Press Release: 11/11/10 Hike to St. Regis Mountain Helps Secure Next Generation's Interest in "Forever Wild" read PDF >

11/24/10

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2010

11/22/10 Engaging Students: Adirondack Wild works with Pace University Law Seminar read more >

Engaging Students: Q&A with Hilary Atkin, Pace Law School read more >

Engaging Students: Q&A with Jeff Auger, Pace Law School read more >

Engaging Students: Q&A with Jessica Silver, Pace Law School read more >

Press Release: 11/11/10 Hike to St. Regis Mountain Helps Secure Next Generation's Interest in "Forever Wild" read PDF >

 


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The mission of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is to advance New York’s ‘Forever Wild’ legacy and Forest Preserve policies in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, and promote public and private land stewardship that is consistent with wild land values through education, advocacy and research.

Top left: Adirondack Wild partners and Pace students reach the summit. Photograph ©2010 Ken Rimany

ADIRONDACK PARK REGIONAL
Peter Brinkley, Honorary Chair
pbrinkley@frontiernet.net
Daniel R. Plumley, Partner
dplumley@adirondackwild.org
Home Office: 518.576.9277
David H. Gibson, Partner
dgibson@adirondackwild.org
Mobile: 518.469.4081
Kenneth J. Rimany, Partner
krimany@adirondackwild.org

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve    Founded 1945   PO Box 9247 • Niskayuna New York 12309 | ©