College officials attend kick-off event celebrating 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act

Wilderness Act 1SUNY New Paltz college officials attended the kick-off event on Wednesday, May 7, in Albany, N.Y., for this year’s celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act.

The event, titled “New York: Where Wilderness Preservation Began – Motivating New Leadership,” was sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute of Government in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Marc Gerstman, executive deputy commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, served as the main speaker on topics of wilderness protection and stewardship.

President Donald P. Christian and Community and Government Relations Associate Richard Winters attended the event.

“The Wilderness Act is a groundbreaking piece of environmental legislation protecting our great outdoors,” said Winters. “New York has been at the forefront of these efforts, and we are pleased to bring wilderness protection to the attention of our students and greater college community as part of this year’s anniversary.”

This spring, SUNY New Paltz joined a statewide effort to commemorate the Wilderness Act and its legacy of land protection and conservation. The College will partner with the non-profit Adirondack Wild, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, and other colleges and universities with the goal of invigorating/reinvigorating conservation values and understanding of the natural world.

To mark the anniversary, faculty have been asked to incorporate the Wilderness Act into their fall class discussions, assignments, and activities. The College is also excited to host Richard Louv for its Distinguished Speaker Series. Mr. Louv is the author of eight books on the connections between family, nature, and community, on Tuesday, October 21. Louv’s most recent (2011) book “The Nature Principle” addresses the issue that our society – in his words – “ has developed such an outsized faith in technology that we have yet to fully realize or even adequately study how human capacities are enhanced through the power of nature.”  In his highly acclaimed and very influential 2005 book “Last Child in the Woods,” Louv coined and discussed the concept of “nature deficit disorder.” His writing has stimulated an international conversation about the relationship between children and nature.  A journalist by background, Louv has received numerous writing awards, serves on several editorial boards, and has been a visiting Professor at Clemson University.  He is especially drawn to the celebration of the Wilderness Act and its underlying spirit, which aligns so closely with his writing.