A Wild Idea

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New York’s Adirondack Park is bigger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, Grand Canyon, and Great Smokies National Parks combined. Most of it is privately owned. It also might be the world’s best protected wilderness, even though 85 million people live within a day’s drive. How did that happen?

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A Wild Idea tells the story of the nation’s largest state park, a territory as large as Vermont in the rural North Country of New York State. The Adirondack Park is a public treasure, even though 60 percent of its land is privately owned. This is the first complete account of a twenty-year citizens’ campaign that either saved a vast wilderness or ruined a local economy, depending on who’s talking. As it celebrates its 50th anniversary, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is praised worldwide as a triumph of sustainable planning. But the APA law still infuriates local landowners who insist that private property is private, and the battle to pass the law pushed communities to the brink of violence.

A Wild Idea is based on in-depth interviews with more than five dozen insiders who are central to the story. It’s a rich, exciting narrative about state power and how it was imposed on rural residents, and it’s full of surprising and shocking revelations.

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