Crimes against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation

By Karl Jacoby | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Working-Class Wilderness

In planning the Adirondack Park, conservationists had envisioned nature as stable and predictable, an entity that followed fixed laws easily comprehensible to trained experts. If park supporters had initially focused little attention on the people inhabiting their new conservation experiment, they soon concluded that the region's human populace possessed few of the qualities that characterized its natural systems. In place of nature's order and harmony, Adirondackers seemed to be governed by a “peculiar moral attitude” that manifested itself in unpredictable, lawless behavior. “I have not found a single instance in which the State forestry laws are obeyed or even respected, ” reported an outraged correspondent to the New York Times in 1889. “Instead of the employees of the State guarding against violation of the statutes or trying to enforce their provisions they assist in breaking them. The statement that the Commonwealth owns certain portions of the territory upon which they live has no apparent meaning to the mountaineers. …Not alone are the laws forbidding the cutting of timber upon State lands violated, but the game restrictions are never thought of by the mountaineers. ”

This “opposition from the inhabitants of the northern counties …to every serious attempt made for the care and protection … of the North Woods” seemed inexplicable to most conservationists, given the benefits they believed the movement was bringing to the region. 1 As a committee of the New York State Assembly stated following an investigative tour of the park in 1899, “[We encountered much] grumbling by the old hunters

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Crimes against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations xi
  • Tables xiii
  • Preface xv
  • Introduction - The Hidden History of American Conservation 1
  • Part I - The Adirondacks 9
  • Chapter 1 - The Re-Creation of Nature 11
  • Chapter 2 - Public Property and Private Parks 29
  • Chapter 3 - Working-Class Wilderness 48
  • Part II - Yellowstone 79
  • Chapter 4 - Nature and Nation 81
  • Chapter 5 - Fort Yellowstone 99
  • Chapter 6 - Modes of Poaching and Production 121
  • Part III - The Grand Canyon 147
  • Chapter 7 - The Havasupai Problem 149
  • Chapter 8 - Farewell Song 171
  • Epilogue - Landscapes of Memory and Myth 193
  • Chronology of American Conservation 199
  • Notes 203
  • Bibliography 267
  • Index 293
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