According to the same legislation that established the Commission for the Niagara Reservation, the members of the Commission were to provide the New York State Legislature an annual report of their accomplishments, recommendations, goals, budget and expenditures with respect to governing the Reservation. For the purposes of the present report, only the first thirty-three annual reports of the Commissioners were consulted, spanning the years 1885 to 1917. In them is a wealth of data of various kinds, including reprints of entire articles or passages of reports dealing with the geology of Niagara Falls and the Great Lakes; reprints of letters written by the Commissioners to federal offices; reprints of speeches given by politicians and interested citizens with respect to issues of legislation and public policy on many topics, primarily moves to protect the integrity of the Falls. There is biographical data on the politicians involved in the Reservation's establishment, lists of visitors, societies, organizations and the days they visited the Reservation, a valuable botanical resource, the Catalogue of the Niagara Flora by David F. Day and the General Plan for the Improvement of the Niagara Reservation by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.
Researchers interested in the history of public lands - parks, forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas - may wish to consult these documents as they appear to be rarely explored, and perhaps may never even have been indexed, and deserve to be so. Not many libraries in New York State appear to have a set of these early reports - those in the Research Library of the Buffalo Museum of Science were consulted for this report. Another set is in the collections of the Niagara Falls Public Library, Niagara Falls, New York (Mr. Paul Westmore, personal communication).
Throughout the text, citations to these annual reports are in the following form: (1 Ann Rep Comm, 1885; 2 Ann Rep Comm, 1886, and so on). The activities reported are always for the year immediately preceding the year of publication.