Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Rebecca Schewe

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


This dissertation examines the tensions that surround land management in the Adirondack Park of New York State (NYS), while paying special attention to how the market intrudes into these conflicts. To look at these tensions, this project explores contests over the regulation of public and private land, conflicts over how wilderness is imagined and managed, and the controversies that flow from efforts to alleviate high-use problems in the Adirondack Park. These contests are the basis of the following research questions which reveal the impact of land management conflict in the Adirondack Park, and expose how the market influences park management and how it is protected from it. First, the dissertation asks: how the Adirondack Park come into its modern form of hybrid land management, which manages public, private, and easement land primarily under one land management system? The analysis of archival documents reveals that land plans with the intention of keeping private lands rural and public lands wild, shaped this land management system. These land plans were reactions from countermovements which sought to protect the land of the park from the market, in the form of largescale housing development and mass tourism. Second, the dissertation asks: how do stakeholders envision “wilderness” and how does that play into the management of “wilderness areas” and other lands in the Adirondack Park? The examination of intensive semi-structured interviews from members, leaders, and employees of conservation and environmental groups, shows that the sample has a diverse understanding of wilderness, however; these visions unite around the argument that wilderness should be a place where humans have a limited impact. Third, the dissertation asks: what do stakeholders see as the causes and solutions to high- use, overuse, and overcrowding in the Adirondack Park? Intensive interviewing and archival research are used to look at how respondents define and identify the causes and solutions to high- use problems in the Adirondack Park. The archival data is used to see how people thought about high-use issues in the 1960s, and it shows that many of the same issues existed in different forms and proportions. The interviews show that the respondents believe high-use problems are caused by uniformed recreators and insufficient land management. The best solutions to these root causes are stronger recreationalist education and improved land management. When it comes to these solutions, the respondents primarily propose public-private solutions, instead of state run solutions. This demonstrates that a neoliberal mindset has seeped in. The analysis of these questions demonstrates Philip Terrie’s (2008) argument of “contested terrain” in action, where numerous parties are competing to enact their vision onto the land. This dissertation details several conflicts over land management in the Adirondack Park that connect to each other. Many of these land management tensions are also conflicts over the role of the state and market in the management of park lands—both public and private. The market’s possible intrusion into the Adirondack Park in the shape of private development and mass tourism, produced a countermovement that led to sweeping land regulation. Managing high-use conflicts and maintaining “wilderness” conditions today often see private organizations and companies sharing in the work and management at a higher degree than the past. Most interestingly, the role of the private groups, sometimes for-profit groups, in this role is seen as normal, even desirable. Thus, the market’s role in the Adirondack Park’s land management is likely increasing, yet the in other ways people are still opposed to the market’s desire to bolster mass tourism and create large scale developments.


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