"Forever Wild": Wilderness Values and Historic Preservation in the Catskill Forest Preserve
ECL § 9-0109
Historic Preservation and Conservation
Article XIV of the New York State Constitution (1894) declares that the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves will be “forever kept as wild forest lands.” The State of New York has interpreted this “forever wild” clause to mean that most structures are inherently incompatible with the wilderness values of the preserves. As a result, the State has sought to enhance wilderness by removing structures it deems “non-conforming” with the forest preserves’ natural qualities. Approaching the Catskill Forest Preserve as a cultural landscape, this thesis describes and analyzes the current and past enabling (or disabling) environment of historic preservation in the preserve and offers remedies that might increase the preservation of cultural resources. Key elements of the narrative include a human history of the Catskills region, an analysis of wilderness theory as applied to American public lands, an evaluation of legislative and management practices of the preserve, case studies of recent preservation successes, and recommendations for future management of heritage resources in the Catskill Forest Preserve.