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All plans for the management or betterment of the Adirondack wilderness have to be shaped with reference to certain vested rights and existing conditions, which are based on laws passed long before the Forest Commission was established. Well-devised plans for forest improvement have been proposed and undertaken from time
time, only to be defeated by restrictions found in some long-forgotten legislation. In discussing many
and abuses which exist to the detriment of the forest, it is necessary to know how far such conditions are protected by law. For this, and various other reasons, and for convenience in refer. ence, we submit herewith a compendium of laws embracing all legislation relative to the territory included in the Great Forest of Northern New York, from the beginning of the State to the present time.
Among these laws will be found the acts authorizing the erection of dams on Adirondack streams and the consequent destruction of the adjoining woods; declaring certain streams highways and giving the right to blast out rocks along such channels; chartering railroads through the woods, opening highways, and providing for surveys; establishing Arbor Day, and for the promotion of tree planting. Something of historical interest will be found in the old laws defining the boundaries of the Adirondack counties, offering bounty lands to soldiers, and establishing land grants. Sportsmen and owners of private preserves will find here the peculiar laws which guarantee exclusive rights to the fish and game on large areas of territory. It will be interesting also to note that of the earliest railroad charters granted in America, some were for railroads projected into or across the Adirondack wilderness. Some of the laws reprinted here may be of little interest to the general reader, but they were included in order that the collection might be complete.*
The various acts have been grouped under the following classification:
Certain Rivers declared Highways.
Military Grants and Bounty Lands.
Authorizing Military or State Roads, and Highways in the Adirondack Region.
PART VI. Laws erecting Counties and defining the boundaries of certain towns.
* For a bibligraphy of forestry, and for tax laws, see Forest Commission Report, 1885. 1
PART VII. Laws condemning certain Lakes for Reservoirs — Decisions of the Board of Claims on Flowed Lands – Forest Commissions.
The volume will prove valuable as a book of reference, while to those interested in Adirondack matters, it will offer, we trust, something of interest beside a mere collection of laws. All of which is respectfully submitted.
FRANCIS G. BABCOCK.