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In 1913 the Burd Amendment legalized the flooding of 3% of Forest Preserve lands for the creation of reservoirs and allowed for the formation of regulatory districts that could regulate the flow and course of rivers by use of dams. During the first half of the 20th Century dams were built and land was flooded in the Forest Preserve. Environmentalists fought and defeated a large dam on Higley Mountain but another even larger dam was planned for Panther Mountain. “When the Higley Mountain Reservoir was given up, there was a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ that the construction of Panther Mountain Reservoir would not be opposed.” (Black River Regulating District, “The Facts about Panther Mountain Reservoir”) Yet in 1945 the Adirondack League Club, whose land would have been flooded, fought the Panther Mountain Dam with the support of hundreds of organizations nationwide and took their case to the New York State Supreme Court. Conservationists saw the Panther Mt. Dam as a dangerous precedent set to support, “others who have been planning to raid the Forest Preserve.” (Paul Schaefer, correspondence) In 1949 the case was heard and ultimately the Panther Mountain project was ruled unconstitutional. The Stokes Act of 1950 and the Ostrander Amendment of 1953 would prohibit the use of river regulating dams on Forest Preserve Land. Dam supporters continued to fight these decisions but voters definitively defeated the dam in 1956.
The collection consists of official court documents, informational pamphlets printed by the Adirondack Moose River Committee and correspondence among committee members and with legislators. Letters included in the files (Box 2 Folder 12) state that they were given to the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks by their lawyer, Milo R. Kniffen. Folders have kept their original titles and been kept in their original order.
Adirondack Forest Preserve, Water Rights, Panther Mountain, Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, Stokes Act, Ostrander Amendment, Dams
Amodeo, Margie, "Panther Mountain Legal Records, 1923-1957" (2013). Finding Aids. 21.