I guess building a 300+ room hotel on the side of a mountain, a golf course, numerous other houses, 80 miles of roads and smiley tower is how some define conservation.
At the time all those were built, the conservation movement in the US was barely in its infancy and didn't gain genuine traction until Teddy Roosevelt. The overriding laissez-faire position at the time held that owners of private property should be allowed to do anything they wished for their property. Few had any concept of conservation or why it might be desirable. The hotel was built in 1869. Trying to equate the modern idea of conservation with what was considered conservation then is pointless and just serves to provide you with a fallacious argument.
1869 was just the start of it. Lets take a look at some of the Smiley legacy in the Shawangunk mountains.
1869 Mountain house purchased (40 guest total)
1879-1910 Mohonk mountain house expanded to 266 guest rooms.
1879 Cliff house hotel open at lake minnewaska
1881 Cliff house hotel expanded to accomodate 225 guests
1887 Wildmere hotel opens at lake Minnewaska
1907 Smiley bros gives easement to NYC ($25,000)for aqueduct allowing the blasting of a crag and the clear cutting, mining of and entire mountain.
1911 Wildmere hotel expanded to accomodate 350 guests
1921 Smiley memorial tower built (Skytop) along with three miles of paths.
1926 5 tennis courts, golf course, baseball diamond and hundreds of Gazebos built at Minnewaska
1998 New $2.8 million 9200 sq. ft. Visitor Center built.
2001 9375sq. ft. refrigerated ice rink opens at Mohonk
2005 30,000 sq. ft. spa opens at Mohonk
Of course this is only a partial list. Don't forget about the old visitor center, the many houses that surround the mountain house hotel, the trailer park, the various mining operations, 80 miles of roads, the land sold for development, the mountain house golf course, the electrical easements that scar the ridge etc... Hardly pristine, hardly conservation minded, hardly occurring only in 1869!