Friday, April 25, 2008
The Story of a Conservationist
Paul Schaefer, pictured left in 1963, was a hunter, hiker, and conservationist of uncommon virtue since he was 11 years old in 1919, wearing a tiny pin stamped with "New York Conservationist" after attending a meeting held by State Conservation officials.
Until his death in 1997 at his beloved home in Niskayuna, NY, at the age of 87, Schaefer had preserved that memento in a small leather change purse.
This great monument of a man went to work after completing just one year of high school, to help support his family, yet he became the most vocal and articulate supporter for preservation of the Adirondacks. Schaefer's greatest fight for preservation came during the late 1940's, when Utility companies proposed 35 major hydroelectric dams and reservoirs that would have involved clearcutting and flooding several hundred thousand acres in the Adirondack Park... including the largest deer wintering grounds on the Moose River Plains.
In his forward to Schaefer's book, Defending the Wilderness, Charles Callison writes "As the decades passed, others may have been up front in the halls of legislation or courts of law, but it was Paul Schaefer who was their coach, their cheerleader, their pamphleteer and their supplier of facts, facts gleaned not only from books, but firsthand on innumerable hikes and camping trips into remote reaches of the great region, as often carrying a camera as a fishing rod or deer rifle."
Schaefer's legacy is now preserved at the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, temporarily based ay his home in Niskayuna, pictured above right..
Paul Schaefer's efforts are still felt today, from his rustic cabin in Baker's Mills, to the entire area inside the Blue Line...
Every Adirondacker owes Paul Schaefer a debt of gratitude...