"I can go inside now, confident that the youth of distant tomorrows
will backpack down winding forest trails, glimpse the sliver of a wildness lake
shining through the trees, and gather round their crackling campfire."
—Paul Schaefer

Pace Law School Profs Issue Forest Preserve Papers
by David Gibson, Partner


Professor Nick Robinson opens the Symposium.
Photo © David Gibson

Nick makes concluding remarks to Dan Plumley, Partner, Adirondack Wild. Photo © David Gibson

Pace Law students gather with Professor Nick Robinson (back left) and Dan Plumley (right). Photo © David Gibson 

Dave Gibson conferring with Professor Robinson.
Photo © Ken Rimany

Dan Plumley and Dave Gibson participate in Forest Preserve discussions with Pace School of Law students.
Photo © Ken Rimany

Pace law students on Forest Preserve wilderness field trip with Adirondack Wild. Photo © Ken Rimany

Learning on site about Fire Tower issues in the Adirondacks -- summit of St. Regis Mt. Photo © Ken Rimany


At the State Bar Association’s Environmental Law Conference in Lake Placid on October 13, 2012, Pace University Law School professors Nicholas Robinson and Philip Weinberg released twelve papers – eleven by their law school students – that review the history, and relevancy today of New York’s Article 14 – known as the “Forever Wild” provision of our State Constitution adopted in 1894 which protects the State’s Forest Preserve in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. That provision states that “the lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, shall be forever kept as wild forest land.” 

The papers cover a wide range of topics that make the “Forever Wild” clause particularly relevant today, including wildlife management, endangered species, agriculture,  climate change, the public trust doctrine, historic preservation, and recreational use among them. The papers include Professor Robinson’s own “Forever Wild: New York’s Constitutional Mandates to Enhance the Forest Preserve.”  For a listing and links to all the papers,  go to:
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawstudents, or http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/. These papers are listed under the year 2010, the year of the Article 14 seminar and symposium at Pace Law School.

In late 2010, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve provided assistance and support to the professors and the students in the classroom, at the symposium and during an Adirondack field trip.  The papers make not only interesting reading, but are intended to provoke further discussion and debate. Adirondack Wild intends to contribute to this proactive strategy well in advance of any public decision to convene a constitutional convention, a question that must be placed on the ballot in 2017.

In Lake Placid, Professor Robinson stated that Article 14 is hardly just a New York State issue. “The whole world will be looking at New York regarding our Forever Wild Constitutional protection,” he noted. “It has international implications in terms of our ability to adapt to climate disruption and to sequester carbon in our forests, in terms of the sustaining a clean water supply for New York City, and much more. Many issues are in play, as expressed in these papers. All state agencies could be and should be obliged to enhance the Forest Preserve. These papers are intended to wake-up a constituency for Article 14.”

Professor Weinberg noted that Article 14 imposes “an affirmative duty on government to protect the environment and to conserve land not only within the Forest Preserve, but also outside it.”

The papers were first delivered at a December, 2010 symposium at Pace Law School. Here are a few quotes from those presentations. Again, to access all the papers, go to:
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawstudents, or http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/.

"Our purpose is to ensure that Article 14 (of the NYS Constitution) is not only maintained, but strengthened." Professor Nicholas A. Robinson

"A nation that loses its liberty can regain it. A nation that loses its natural resources must pay the penalty of poverty, degradation and decay." Gifford Pinchot, quoted by Professor Philip Weinberg.

"My paper concerns Article 14 and the Public Trust. In fact, Article 14 is part of the Public Trust, and New York State's executive, legislative and judicial branches can do nothing to destroy that trust. They can only enhance it." Pace Law student Katherine R. Leisch

"My recommendation is to amend Article 14 to incorporate existing inconsistent uses of the Forest Preserve, and to ensure that any future inconsistent uses are carefully circumscribed and delineated. Further, I recommend that Article 14 receive an anti-degradation clause to prevent further backsliding. We must remember that the Forest Preserve can only be enhanced, not diminished." Pace Law student Katherine R. Leisch

"Public support (for the Forest Preserve) is often tied to the health of the region's wildlife.  The Adirondack and Catskill regions benefit from $1.5 billion annual economic return from hunting alone, and another $1.5 billion from birdwatching and hiking. Any threat to Article 14 is a threat to the region's biodiversity." Pace Law student Jeffrey Auger

"I recommend that our state build up a support base for Article 14 from hunters and fishers, and from city residents who must be influential once again in protecting the Forest Preserve and including ecosystem services into the Constitution." Pace Law student Jeffrey Auger

"The framers (of Article 14) could not anticipate the extent and types of motorized uses that would raise constitutional issues. There should be a public referendum and constitutional vote on whether to permit motorized uses on the Forest Preserve.  Society is not entitled to use the Forest Preserve for all types of recreation. We are only entitled to have reasonable access to it." Pace Law Student Jennifer L. McAleese

"We have strayed too far from the framers original intent of Article 14. We have an affirmative duty to protect the preserve, and to assure that our recreation is in harmony with it." Pace Law student Jennifer L. McAleese

"Economically, Adirondack and Catskill Parks provide billions of dollars of value in water and watersheds and avoidance cost for water treatment. They also provide critical biodiversity and carbon benefits which can be quantified, with dollar benefits flowing to landowners. Leave Article 14 alone. From an economic standpoint, it is a strong foundation from which to legislate to ensure that ecosystem services benefit the residents of these special places."  Pace Law student Chih-Yao Sun.

Posted 10/17/12
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12/19/12 Finding Blessings, Resilience and Self-Worth in Nature read more >
12/03/12 Fracking and the Adirondacks read more >
11/08/12 Stewarding the Wild Adirondacks:
2012 Workshop
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10/30/12 Iroquois Peace And Defending The Law
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10/17/12 Pace Law School Profs Issue Forest Preserve Papers read more >
10/04/12 2012 Annual Meeting in Old Forge a Great Success read more >
07/02/12 A Visit to the Hadley Mountain Firetower
read more >

06/11/12Students Visit a Wilderness Retreat; Discuss Why Wilderness Matters read more >
05/03/12 Fifty Years of Caring for the Upper Hudson River read more >
04/08/12 Aldo Leopold's Greenfire Movie screening
read more >
2011 - Click Here for Archives
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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.

Photos ©2011 Ken RImany

Peter Brinkley, Honorary Chair
Terry Jandreau, Chair
Kenneth J. Rimany, Partner
David H. Gibson, Managing Partner
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Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve    Founded 1945   PO Box 9247 • Niskayuna New York 12309 | ©