Black Dome Press

Saving the Shawangunks


Saving the Shawangunks


The Struggle to Protect One of Earth’s Last Great Places




by Carleton Mabee, winner of the Pulitzer Prize


photographs by Nora Scarlett


foreword by Cara Lee of The Nature Conservancy


32 full-color photographs by Nora Scarlett


70 B&W maps and photos


Paper, 8 x 10, 168 pp


Isbn: 9781883789886, $21.95




The successful grassroots fight to stop the construction of a 400-room hotel/conference center and 500 condominiums around Lake Minnewaska in New York State’s Shawangunk Mountains in the 1980s was a landmark victory for Hudson Valley environmentalists and became a blueprint for subsequent struggles to preserve open space against encroaching development in a uniquely beautiful landscape that The Nature Conservancy in 1991 selected as one of the 75 “Last Great Places on Earth.” 


But the fight did not end there. Subsequent plans for Lake Minnewaska involved the construction of a large spa complex. That plan, too, was defeated when local citizens once again banded together in opposition, and further development schemes for Lake Minnewaska were thwarted when New York State purchased the property and created the Minnewaska State Park Preserve.


A previous proposal to place 500 trailers around the Shawangunk Ridge’s Tillson Lake was also opposed and defeated, and then, in 2002, a plan to build 350 luxury homes on land located between Sam’s Point Preserve and the new Minnewaska State Park Preserve proved that the fight to preserve the Shawangunk Ridge from development would be an ongoing struggle.


As the result of continued and focused community action, the northern Shawangunk Mountains today, with their sky lakes, rock cliffs, and unique ecology, include vast stretches of preserved and wild land for public enjoyment and the benefit of future generations. In this, his final book, Pulitzer Prize-winner Carleton Mabee documents how common citizens can stop corporations in their tracks and preserve their communities and the landscape they love. 


“Mabee’s labor-of-love swan song—a rich and acute ecological/cultural/political narrative of his beloved Shawangunks and their preservation … is no mere scrapbook history composed of the minutes of meetings, newspaper clippings, interviews and condensed timelines of various assaults and defenses of the Shawangunk mountains. Sometimes, Mabee’s hand is so steady, his voice so lucid in its aggregation of narrative bits and pieces, that it is easy to miss the fact that there is a good deal of active interpretation and historical contextualization going on here—regarding the dawning of environmental consciousness from Thoreau to the present, regarding the changing residential and recreational habits of Americans in the postwar years and regarding the chronic rifts in our community: a definitive struggle between growth and preservation and those vested in each. … Mabee displays an intuitively deep understanding of the rift and the region. A lot of complex questions, implications, perspectives and futures begin, rather than conclude and resolve, in Carleton Mabee’s final work.” John Burdick, Ulster Publishing, November 2017


“Carleton Mabee saw the conservation of a unique landscape unfold and believed that it was a story well worth telling. He captured the stories, debates, controversies, struggles and triumphs of regular people doing extraordinary work in their own communities to protect the environment.  It is an inspiring history for our region and our communities, and one we will continue to draw from as we face the challenges ahead.” Cara Lee, Senior Conservation Manager, The Nature Conservancy


Carleton Mabee won a Pulitzer Prize for The American Leonardo: A Life of Samuel B. Morse. His many other books include: Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend (with Susan Mabee Newhouse), recipient of Outstanding Book Award of the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights; Listen to the Whistle: An Anecdotal History of the Wallkill Valley Railroad in Ulster and Orange Counties, New York; and Bridging the Hudson: The Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge & Its Connecting Rail Lines.




Nora Scarlett received numerous awards during her career as a commercial photographer in New York City. Upon moving to the Shawangunks in 1998,  she was able to spend more time pursuing her love of the outdoors and visually documenting its wonders in her unique style. Her first book, Trunks of the Gunks: A Visual Odyssey through the Shawangunk Mountains in Search of the Unexpected, was published in 2016.




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This product was added to our catalog on Monday 06 November, 2017.

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