Guidelines and Suggestions for NY State Wilderness 50th Anniversary Celebrations

Occasion:  2014 is the 50th anniversary of the National Wilderness Preservation Act signed by President Lyndon B.  Johnson on Sept. 3, 1964

Our Theme here in New York State:  New York: Where Wilderness Preservation BeganMotivating New Leadership

New York State is distinguished from all others because of its “Forever Wild” constitutional protection of the Forest Preserve in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. Article XIV, Section 1 of our State Constitution inspired the author and chief lobbyist of the National Wilderness bill, Howard Zahniser, during eighteen years of drafting federal wilderness legislation. In turn, our Wilderness in the Adirondack and Catskill Park is modeled on the National Wilderness Act definition.

NYS Wilderness 50th Steering Committee: Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve & the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, in cooperation with the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation


  • New York has pioneered wilderness preservation and stewardship, preserving wilderness in law and its Constitution, stewarding wilderness through active management, and doing so through citizen action and governmental representation dating to 1885.
  • The author and chief lobbyist of the National Wilderness bill of 1964, Howard Zahniser, gained his inspiration from NYS Constitution and the Adirondack Forest Preserve.
  • Today, national Wilderness system contains over 109 million acres across all 50 states.
  • The Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve contains over 3 million acres, the largest wilderness of the eastern U.S. of national and international importance, yet under the custody, care, and stewardship of New Yorkers.  The wilderness definition in the Adirondack and Catskill Park State Land Master Plans comes directly from the federal definition.

Fostering New Wilderness Leadership: In an effort to foster diversity and to encourage younger people to care for our wilderness and to grow as wilderness leaders and stewards, the steering committee wishes to partner with various colleges in the State University system, as well as others, to mark this anniversary through event(s) on and off campus in ways distinctive to each institution.

Event Timeline: The actual Wilderness anniversary is Sept. 3. Steering Committee to sponsor a kick-off event on May 7 at the Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany and announce as many college activities as possible at that time. Colleges to sponsor their own activities and event(s) from mid-September to mid-October. Last date for sponsored activity to be Oct 20.  Other events around the state and by other organizations are welcomed. All events to be posted on a common website. Steering Committee to encourage, assist where needed and attend as many events as possible. Steering Committee also to schedule special field visits, field trips and ceremonies, including one at the Zahniser and Schaefer cabins in Bakers Mills, NY, adjacent to the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area.

Sponsorship and Responsibilities: The steering committee and cooperators will sanction the college events as official events commemorating the NYS Wilderness 50th anniversary. We will initiate contact at each college, provide needed background, basic event guidelines, offer advice and assistance, and attend the events. However, representatives at each college will be responsible for scheduling, planning and managing their own event(s) or activities.

Suggestions for Events: These are simply suggestions. Many other ideas will be considered by the Steering Committee.

  • Campus key note address on Wilderness or related topic
  • Campus Panel Discussion following address
  • Wilderness Stewardship Training seminar about the history and current challenges of wilderness stewardship today and how students and colleges can make a difference
  • Classroom (Sciences, History, Government, etc) assisgnment focused on wilderness preservation, management or stewardship
  • Field outing to a wilderness area, with a purpose, use of journals, follow-up report
  •  Wilderness stewardship activity (trail maintenance, ecological restoration project, for example) in communication and partnership with a responsible stewardship organization and the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation
  • Celebrating wilderness or the wild through the cultural arts on or off campus: music, art, photography, video,


Some wilderness topics to consider as you plan your event(s):

  • Wilderness youth movement: relevance, communication, motivation
  • Inclusiveness for Wilderness: Increasing wilderness constituents among underrepresented Americans
  • Spirituality and Wilderness
  • Caring and Stewardship of Wilderness
  • Human settlements and Wilderness
  • Diversifying Adirondack Park and Catskill Park constituencies for wilderness
  • Global and International Support for the wilderness
  • Wilderness and Wildlife: New Perspectives: From amphibians to wolves
  • Wilderness and economics, ecological services
  • Enhancing and strengthening Article 14, NYS Constitution
  • Monitoring and chronicling the Wild
  • Wilderness and the cultural arts

NYS Wilderness 50th Steering Committee Contacts:

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve

Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government

State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation



Return to top of page




OVERVIEW: New York State is where wilderness preservation began in America read more >
Guidelines and Suggestions for NY State Wilderness 50th Anniversary Celebrations read more >
The 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act
read more >
The Adirondack Park: Where Wilderness Preservation Began read more >
Celebration of 50 Years of Wilderness Protection read more >

Archives for Wilderness 50th Celebration











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, Raven flying over the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Photo © Ken Rimany

Peter Brinkley, Honorary Chair
Terry Jandreau, Chair
Kenneth J. Rimany, Partner
David H. Gibson, Managing Partner
Mobile: 518.469.4081

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