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

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With its dire predictions of what deforestation in the Adirondacks would mean for the state's waterways, Man and Nature attracted immediate attention in New York. As early as , the state legislature, prodded by an unlikely alliance of sports hunters who wanted to preserve New York's northern counties as a permanent hunting and camping ground, and industrialists concerned about maintaining an adequate flow of water for the region's mills and canals, formed a committee to look into the feasibility of adopting Marsh's recommendation to establish a park in the Adirondacks.

The following year, the committee issued a report concluding "that the protection of a great portion of that forest from wanton destruction is absolutely and immediately required" and calling for the creation of a "timber reserve and preserve" in the Adirondacks. While the committee members drew much of their discussion directly from Marsh, they appended to his argument an additional point of their own: "[Besides] these weighty considerations of political economy, there are social and moral reasons which render the preservation of the forest advisable The boating, tramping, hunting and fishing expedition afford that physical training which modern Americans—of the Eastern States—stand sadly in need of, and which we must hope will, with the fashionable young men of the period, yet replace the vicious, enervating, debasing pleasures of the cities To foster and promote these natural and healthful exercises among the young men of the State, it is necessary in some measure to preserve the game, and the forest which affords it shelter.

This linkage of an environmental crisis deforestation and water loss and a social crisis urbanism and the undermining of traditional models of masculinity captures the modern and antimodern impulses that, in uneasy combination, lay at the core of the nascent conservation movement. On the one hand, conservation, with its emphasis on using the power of science and the state to rationally manage natural resources, represented a quintessentially modern approach toward the environment.

Crimes against Nature | Ingram Academic

On the other, conservation frequently invoked the Romantic search for authentic experience, in which nature was offered as the antidote to an increasingly industrial, "overcivilized" existence. These two positions did not necessarily contradict one another; it was possible to be an industrialist during the week and a sports hunter on the weekend as many of the leading proponents of conservation in fact were. But tensions between the two perspectives would, at times, prove difficult to reconcile.

As a result, conservation never traveled a simple trajectory. Although its central beliefs remained remarkably consistent—an emphasis on professionalization, on governmental ownership and management of the environment, and on the inherently stable and predictable character of the natural world—conservation charted an irregular orbit around these positions, as first one force than another exerted its gravitational pull on the movement.

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In the case of the Adirondacks, recommendations for state action languished until , when a severe drought gripped New York and the water level in its principal rivers, the Hudson, the Mohawk, and the Black, dipped to alarmingly low levels. Concerned with the effect this decline could have on the Erie Canal and downstream mills, the New York Chamber of Commerce and the New York Board of Trade added their weight to calls for state management of the Adirondacks.

In response, the New York legislature passed a measure in forbidding any further sales of state lands in the Adirondacks. Over the next few years, state control over the region ratcheted steadily upward.


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In , the legislature reorganized its holdings in the Adirondacks into a forest preserve, overseen by a forest commission. In , lawmakers consolidated these efforts into the three-million-acre Adirondack Park, made up of both the Forest Preserve and adjoining private lands. An constitutional amendment stating that the Forest Preserve was to be "forever kept as wild forest lands" helped ensure the permanence of the state's experiment in conservation.

The legislature also took steps to tighten the region's game laws during this period. In , hunters were limited to three deer per year, a number that in dropped to two per year.

Crimes Against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves & the Hidden History of American Conservation

Other legislation restricted such traditional hunting practices as jacking hunting at night using a bright light to blind deer and hounding hunting with dogs. In fishing, the use of nets was outlawed in favor of the rod and reel.


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    Be the first to write a review About this product. About this product Product Information Crimes against Nature reveals the hidden history behind three of the nation's first parklands: the Adirondacks, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon. Focusing on conservation's impact on local inhabitants, Karl Jacoby traces the effect of criminalizing such traditional practices as hunting, fishing, foraging, and timber cutting in the newly created parks.

    Jacoby reassesses the nature of these crimes and provides a rich portrait of rural people and their relationship with the natural world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

    Crimes Against Nature Squatters Poachers Thieves & The Hidden History Of American Conservation

    Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. Show More Show Less. Any Condition Any Condition. No ratings or reviews yet. Mountain: Yellowstone 4. Nature and Nation 81 5. Fort Yellowstone 99 6. Desert: The Grand Canyon 7.

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