Two Hamilton College students won first and second prize in the Wilderness Writing Contest sponsored by the Adirondack Council this spring. They were selected based on letters to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in which they expressed reasons why the state should expand the High Peaks Wilderness Area. First-place winner Jack Wright ’19 will receive an airplane flight over the state’s tallest mountains and the Boreas Pond region, and second-place winner Hannah Lasher ’19 will receive an Osprey Hiking Pack. The second of the two first-prize winners was from Drexel University, and the third-place winner was a Colgate student.
The letters written by Wright and Lasher were part of an assignment in Visiting Assistant Professor of Geosciences Carolyn Dash's writing intensive environmental science course Forever Wild: The Natural and Cultural Histories of the Adirondack Park and were later submitted to the contest.
A coalition of conservation organizations is calling on state officials to classify as wilderness several parcels of recently purchased state forest preserve lands that had been off-limits to the public for more than 150 years. The contest was part of the Adirondack Council’s #BeWildNY Campaign, associated with this coalition.
“We are thrilled to see college students embracing the coalition’s High Peaks Wilderness expansion plan and joining the #BeWildNY movement,” said Greg Redling, Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator for the Adirondack Council. “Thousands of people of all ages have written letters on behalf of the Wilderness expansion plan so far, with more joining us each day.”
“It is truly inspiring to see the next generation of conservationists step up and make themselves heard on behalf of wilderness,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “It’s good to know there are young people willing to take the time to understand the issue and make an impact on the outcome.”
In his letter addressed to the governor Wright wrote, “Our anthropocentric views and actions have undoubtedly led us to our current climate crisis, which already poses grave consequences for generations to come. Designating the Boreas Ponds as Wilderness will reject this anthropocentric mindset in favor of ecological preservation.” Lasher wrote, “We cannot watch the Adirondack Park gradually lose the wild character that defines it, but must make the most of our opportunities to expand on it … Now is not the time to make small concessions with big consequences.”
To be eligible, writers were required to be enrolled in a two- or four-year college. Entries were judged by their writing quality, the effectiveness of their arguments in favor of wilderness, and their level of creativity. Entries had to be between 500 and 1000 words, formatted properly and addressed to the Governor.
The Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. The Council envisions a Park comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, as well as vibrant, local communities.