About Philip Terrie

Philip Terrie is an Adirondack and environmental historian, and the author of five books on regional history, including Contested Terrain: A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks (2nd ed., Syracuse UP, 2008) and Seeing the Forest: Reviews, Musings, and Opinions from an Adirondack Historian (Saranac Lake: Adirondack Explorer, 2017).

Reader Interactions


  1. Bob Glennon says

    Phil, thanks from this old war horse as well. I profoundly hope this is the first of a series. I’d love to read your take on the Agency’s handling of the 1980 Winter Olympics, for example (the skijump vote, authorizing the tallest structure twixt Albany and Montreal, was 6-4 with one abstention). The creation of the money sewer that is ORDA and all else that followed.

    The series could culminate with the Agency’s vote, Dick Booth the only dissenter, to approve the ACR thing in Tupper Lake. With that act, IMHO, it declared itself no longer a factor in the preservation of that “open space character of the Park” the TSC and its own organic act sought to protect.

    The APA Act will turn 50 in 2021; 2023 if you count from the enactment of the Land Use and Development Plan. Time to assess and reexamine?

  2. Phil Terrie says

    Tony, Thanks for a valuable addition to my article (I didn’t see this the first time you posted it). I wish the Explorer would let me write longer articles!

  3. Anthony Hall says

    Phil, I wonder if there would be enough interest (and enough material) for a symposium on the Anniversary of the TSC’s report. You’ve successfully called attention to its importance

  4. Lou Curth says

    Thank you for this informative article on the roots of the modern day Adirondack Park by distinguished historian Philip Terrie, and also for the companion piece “To Create A Park” offered by Tony Hall via the Comment section. Read together, they make a wonderful primer for younger Adirondack aficionados who have discovered our wonderful region in the years since 1971 when Gov. Nelson Rockefeller signed into law the act which created the Adirondack Park Agency.

    Fifty years on, I am reduced from being an environmental activist to being a witness to environmental history. Two questions keep coming to mind: (1.) How effective will today’s user-friendly Adirondack Park Agency be in negotiating the future of an Adirondack region facing existential threats from global warming, mass extinction and human overpopulation? (2.) Where are the citizen activists who will step forward, as we did on Earth Day 1970, to demand – and continue to demand – action by our political leaders to restore, protect and preserve our natural environment?

  5. Terrie Philip says

    Tony, The Adk Experience will host a symposium on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the APA; Rockefeller signed the enabling legislation in June 1970. Waiting to see whether it will be virtual or in person. If in person: Crowne Plaza, Lake Placid, June 21-22. If virtual: online presentations and discussions, June 22. Hope to announce details after the first of the year.

  6. Tony Hall says

    Also recommended reading: Lou Curth’s own “The Forest Rangers: a History of the New Y ork State Forest Ranger Force,” 1987, published by the NYS DEC

  7. Bob Meyer says

    Thank you Phil for this article.
    I still have both Volume I & II [the technical report] and remember reading them both cover to cover with excitement and pride that our state was poised to forge ahead with sound environmental policies and action with regard to The Adirondacks.
    I can only hope that the APA can regain independence from the whims and winds of political shenanigans, learn from past mistakes and build on the good work it has accomplished in the past.
    Bob Meyer
    Cortlandt Manor & Pottersville, NY

  8. Sandra Hildreth says

    In Dec 1970 I was a recent college graduate, and a young wife who had moved to New York 3 months earlier. My husband was a graduate student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and I had a job in the Institute Library. I saw the Report of the Temporary Study Commission and I wanted to learn more about the Adirondacks. But never in my wildest dreams had I ever thought I would end up living there and that the region would shape and become the focus of my career as an artist for the next 50 years of my life! Thanks, Phil, for reminding me of this.

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