John Dillon Park
As a tribute to International Paper’s retired chairman, John Dillon, a park has been created where people with disabilities can enjoy the experience of the great outdoors that many others take for granted.
Within the Adirondack Park of New York State, International Paper John Dillon Park is the first park in the country designed to provide a wilderness experience for people with disabilities. The Park, dedicated by former International Paper chairman John Faraci in the fall of 2005, opened for use in 2006.
John Dillon Park is the centerpiece of International Paper’s donation of a 15,802 acre (6,395 ha) conservation easement to New York State, located in the central Adirondack Park Town of Long Lake. Valued at $2.6 million, the easement protects the wilderness character of the Park while demonstrating compatibility with the working forests surrounding the park. Created on 198 acres (80 ha) in the middle of the easement, the park features customized lean-to shelters, handicapped accessible fishing ramps, wheelchair friendly nature trails, and canoe and kayak docking facilities – all blended into the natural environment to provide a true wilderness experience for people with disabilities. The several miles of specially surfaced and graded trails will accommodate people with wheelchairs, and enable access to remote camping sites, mountain brooks, forests, lakes and areas to view wildlife.
Developing the park was a big step, but creating the means to operate it was just as important for the wilderness experience to be realized. John Dillon Park is operated in partnership with Paul Smith’s College located in Paul Smiths, N.Y. Paul Smith’s College operates and staffs the Park while providing the College with a new curriculum offering in its recreation management program that focuses on people with disabilities. The Park provides hands-on practical training to students and valuable research opportunities in this growing field.
The Park is an extraordinary natural area and its enjoyment by people with disabilities is a fitting tribute to the service of former Chairman John Dillon.