Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dan Crane: Promoting the Adirondacks to Death

View from Cat MountainTourism in the Adirondack Park is all the rage today. From the approval of the Adirondack Club & Resort in Tupper Lake to the governor’s proposed Adirondack Challenge, there is no shortage of ideas to promote the Adirondacks. The ultimate hope presumably being that people will flock to the area to experience the unique opportunities the Adirondacks provides.

They had just better bring their wallets.

In the race for the almighty dollar, it appears few are stopping to ponder whether increased tourism is a good idea for the Adirondacks. How will increased tourism change the nature of the Park? Will more people turn off those who already loyally visit the Park and favor its plentiful opportunities for solitude? Are hikers prepared for crowded trailheads and busy trails, muddied by the increased traffic and littered with rubbish from uncaring or careless hikers?

It is indisputable that an increase in tourism will result in a financial boon to the resident of the Adirondacks. Unfortunately, with this potential increase of visitors, there will be an accompanying host of adverse issues. More people lead to more traffic, more roads, more development and eventually more crime.

Vehicle traffic, the favored form of transportation, with its trailing plumes of global warming pollution, could clog the current roadways. Since many of these narrow roads may not support this increase traffic, expansion is inevitable. Wider roads will allow for easier access, potentially bringing even more traffic in an unending positive feedback loop.

The increase in roads and other associated development must occur at the expense of other land uses. This means fewer forests, less unspoiled landscapes and reduced unscathed mountain vistas; all the things that make the Adirondacks the unique place it is today.

Many will scoff at the notion of the Adirondacks becoming overcome with crowds of people. How could such an increase in human traffic occur? Old Forge stands as a warning to those skeptical about the adverse changes traffic can present.

While I was a young boy, Old Forge was a relatively quiet little hamlet, perhaps a little kitschy, but not garishly so. One could cross State Route 28 without waiting indefinitely, and comfortably stroll down the sidewalk without constantly dodging other people and choking on car exhaust.

The last time I drove through Old Forge some years ago, traffic was bumper to bumper as far as the eye could see. Meandering pedestrians crowded the sidewalks, walking shoulder to shoulder like a herd of cattle unknowingly marching to the slaughter. The friendly little hamlet of my youth had turned into a little city, one I was thankful to see receding in my rear-view mirror when I finally emerged through the gauntlet of people and vehicles.

Old Forge is not an anomaly in the Adirondacks either. Lake George and Lake Placid have their share of crowds and the gaudy tourist attractions that appear to attract them. These three developed communities form an axis of tawdry tourism in the Adirondacks, based not on the beauty of nature’s wonders, but on the brazen vulgarity of man’s ultimate hubris, commercialism.

Is this the future fate of the Adirondacks? Is this what we want for such an area of natural beauty? Given the rush to promote the area, apparently it is, at least for some. What is the sole purpose of all this promotion? To fleece the greatest amount of cash from the maximum number of poor tourists, of course!

The backcountry will not be immune from any increase in human visitation. Crowded trailheads, muddy and eroding trails, increased garbage and other refuse, and less opportunities for solitude are just a few of the impacts. Essentially, most of the trail system could become more like the High Peaks Region, while that busy region would become even more crowded and congested. At least, the back-backcountry, the trail-less areas well off the beaten path, should remain unscathed, at least for the near future.

Is this tourism harangue just a selfish attempt at maintaining the current conditions, so I can continue to enjoy my own opportunity to commune with nature in the relative solitude of the unappreciated backcountry? Absolutely, at least to a point.

Also, I think about the denizens of the Adirondack backcountry, those creatures with no say in whether humans invade their home in higher numbers in the years ahead. While politicians, residents and other stakeholders promote tourism in the Adirondack Park, the forests, meadows and bogs wait in silence, performing their age-old activities, unaware of the looming threat on the horizon. The black bears get no say in this matter, nor do the yellow-rumped warblers, redback salamanders, balsam trees or the even the lowly black flies.

And that is a shame.

Photo: Five Ponds Wilderness in early morning from Cat Mountain by Dan Crane.

Dan Crane

Dan Crane

Dan Crane writes regularly about bushwhacking and backcountry camping, including providing insights on equipment and his observations as a veteran backcountry explorer. He has been visiting the Adirondacks since childhood and actively exploring its backcountry for almost two decades. He is also life-long naturalist with a Master of Science in Ecology from SUNY ESF and 10+ seasons working as a field biologist, five inside the Blue Line.

Dan has hiked the Northville-Placid Trail twice and climbed all 46 High Peaks but currently spends his backpacking time exploring the northwestern portion of the Adirondacks. He is also the creator of the blog Bushwhacking Fool where he details his bushwhacking adventures.


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42 Responses

  1. Charlie Stehlin says:

    I’ve been feeling the same vibes Dan.Nothing is sacred anymore.And of course this generation of people that live in the Adirondacks are no different than Joe and Jane Gump who live in the more populous noisy urban areas in that televisions have seduced them too,and all of the other technological gadgets,ie..computer games,cellphones,facebook,twitter.Hardly anybody knows what’s it’s like to be in solitude,nor do they seem to care.By what i see people hate to be alone,always needing to talk into a cellphone…… I can go on with my take on this but I dont want to bore anybody. I will say this: I camped in Moose River last September and what you mention above is happening in there.I found a loaded diaper on a small trail off of camp. There was another loaded diaper in the water,a tributary of the pristine Moose River,that i was unable to reach.I was sickened by this but not surprised.It would have taken little energy to carry that shit out!Stupid people should not be allowed in places like that.You are right on the money Dan.It’s all about the money,about appeasing those desperate unemployed Adirondack folk who would rather have jobs than have that solitude that long dead wonderful souls fought long and hard to protect.Our leaders take advantage of ignorant and desperate people.A sad affair indeed the way we’re headed,and i only hope more people start waking up soon.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 16

    • PJ says:

      Charlie–

      I expect at some time in you life you’ve had a job. Does someone else wanting to have one really justify the contempt you express when you write about “appeasing those desperate unemployed Adirondack folk who would rather have jobs than have that solitude”?

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  2. Matt says:

    Thank you for the wonderful case you’ve just made for good planning, community and natural resources alike. Tourism promotion should not happen without it.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  3. Alex says:

    Everything in moderation. The resources and beauty of the region must be protected. But who’s to say that residents of the many poor Adirondack towns have no right to profit from their home? It is selfish to declare that we must keep everything “as is” for us folks who venture into the park 10-20x a year and call themselves Adirondackers. What about the real Adirondackers, who call the park home? Instead of throwing out impossible absolutes, let’s try to meet in the middle on this one.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  4. Ann Melious says:

    It is a little premature to worry that tourists are going to ravage the landscape. It may be different in Lake Placid and Lake George, but on the whole there are a fraction of the hotel rooms in the park now than there were at the end of the 19th century. Modern lodging is more predictive of “hoards” than land acquisitions, regardless of what the Governor says.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  5. Ti Sentinel65 says:

    The crowds you talk about Dan do exist, but those wild acres sure do out number them. It is still very easy on any given day to get lost in the Adirondacks.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  6. Paul says:

    Dan, has the courage to say what I think many environmentalists agree on. They promote the “park” as a Mecca and hope that no one comes??? If tourism is the key to the economy of the park then we must deal with what I and many would prefer not happen, but that is an illusion. But at the same time Ann and Ti are right. It is quieter now in most places than it was 30 years ago.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      Paul,

      “It is quieter now in most places than it was 30 years ago.”

      That is patently false. There is only one community I know that may possibly be considered quieter now than 30 years ago and that is Newcomb due to the closing of the NL Industries mine.

      You seem to be carrying the “declining population” theory into some uncharted territory, but rest assured, “most” – or even “many” – places are not quieter now than 30 years ago.

      Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

      • Bill Ott says:

        John,
        Another declining community would be the Cranberry Lake / Star Lake / Newton Falls area. They have lost a mine and a paper mill, taking down the Newton Falls Hotel (wonderful times), a bar (of ill repute) in Star Lake, another little bar in Cranberry, and possibly the Pine Cone in Wanakena (it was up for sale with no buyers in September). A convenience store / fuel stop also is vacant on the west end of Cranberry. A Stewarts shop is a plus in Star Lake, but on the whole, I think the whole area is hurting. And along with all that, I think the back country (Five Ponds Region) is less visited now.

        I am an out-of-towner who comes to these woods four to eight weeks a year.

        And Dan – hope your knee is better. Miss your “real” bushwhacking reports.

        Bill Ott,
        Lakewood, Ohio

        Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Nature says:

    Dan,

    I share some of your apprehension about every town in the Adirondacks becoming like Old Forge, or Lake George. But I don’t think that is a likely scenario. And, as others have mentioned, many of the sleepy villages throughout the park are so far from this now that they could have a major expansion and still look like a sleepy little village. The state has added a lot of public land to the park in the last 20 years. Surely these lands can accommodate, or disperse, the added use?

    Becoming a successful tourist draw has costs. Traffic, real estate being valued above the average local salary, etc. These could negatively effect some communities in the park. But as a whole, I think the park can sustain more use while largely avoiding these troubles.

    Your essay indicates to me that you believe that the park is a diamond in the rough that will instantly shine with a little polishing. The tourism councils seem to be banking on this same belief. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming years.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  8. Brian Mann Brian Mann says:

    Dan –

    One of the things I do when writing about a community like Old Forge or Lake George is go there.

    Spend a bit of time. Listen to what people are saying. Drive the margins of the town.

    Your essay suggests that you haven’t actually visited these places in quite a while.

    I say this because the facts on the ground are significantly different than those you describe.

    Lake George and Old Forge are sometimes busy with people, not cattle, who have come to see the Adirondacks and spend time in our communities.

    The cool thing is that because of decades of zoning — by state and local governments — the wild part of the Adirondacks is literally a three minute drive from the heart of these villages.

    If you prefer a bicycle, it might take you ten minutes.

    And it’s also a fact that there are strict rules in place governing development of all infrastructure in the Park, from roads to cell phone towers to new resorts.

    If you visited these communities, and talked to some people, you would also find that local residents and leaders are working hard to enhance their own quality of life, trying to find ways to balance a tourism economy and a real sense of place.

    Many of these communities are also investing huge resources to develop the trail systems that you enjoy, particularly as state funding has declined.

    –Brian Mann, NCPR

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 3

  9. Tourism and environmentalism are not mutually exclusive. Lake Placid, Old Forge and Lake George (Village) are three perfect examples of how *not* to balance those two objectives, but anyone who thinks that they exemplify what the Adirondacks are all about is delusional (or visiting from Brooklyn). On the other hand numerous small struggling Adirondack towns, including my own Schroon Lake, would welcome enough tourism to support a hotel, or enough visitors to support one general store that could stay open all winter. We long for a strong enough local economy to support a town dentist, or doctor, or – God forgive me – a lawyer. Until then our greatest export will continue to be our children. If you don’t want the tourists in your town, please send them our way. We will welcome them with open arms.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  10. Tim says:

    I agree that good planning is the key. I remain skeptical, however. When I compare photos of a much busier but more beautiful 19th century Elizabethtown “downtown” with the obscene architecture of the Grand Union, Kinney’s (and their 6 “get your flu shot here” signs lining the road,” Stewart’s, Dollar Store, parking lots, utility wires, and several car dealerships, I doubt that a bigger E’town will be a more beautiful E’town. We have a hard working planning committee but I wonder where the money and power will come from to implement their suggestions. I’m not against having these businesses. But why can’t they be more attractive? The Lake Placid Kinney’s is much better looking.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  11. Nick Rose says:

    Dan, Dan, Dan
    Really read the comments by Brian Mann. You seem to be among those group of folks that resent the people who come to visit the Park, which by the way recently made the list of top 46 places to visit in the world.
    For the 132,000 of us who live within the Blue Line year round what we seek is simply sustainable communities, that means at least a thriving school, grocery stores, gas stations, cultural opportunities (movie theaters, art centers, music, etc.). Its a big Park Dan, and there should always be enough room for you to do your thing and for people who just want to look through Old Forge Hardware. All of us realize that the reason that any of us are here in the first place, whether year-round, seasonal or visitor, are the mountains, lakes, woods, etc. that we are committed to preserve or the whole attraction disappears.
    Come to Old Forge, we will take you to our local business people who are as committed to preservation as they are to making their local businesses thrive under very difficult circumstances. Our community development goal regionally is “50 Families”, that makes the difference between a vibrant, thriving area and one who’s better days are in the past. Look forward Dan, its a big Park and the “cattle” are not mooing.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

    • Mike says:

      Well done, Nick. Dan–Our striving for sustainability is not new to the residents of the Park. My family has been part of that movement here since the 1800s. It’s striving to make a living where we choose to make a life. That also means being good stewards of the resources, and providing goods and services to others who come to enjoy the same things which attracted our families. It’s certainly not “I’m in, pull up the ladder.” Old Forge is growing with permanent and seasonal residents who appreciate the sense of community as well the necessity and vision of planned development. Solitude lives 10min from Old Forge, in any direction. Many cars stop here, a Park gateway, and DON’T clog other Adirondack highways. More and more people want to be here; who are you to deny them or the working residents? If they’re careless, let’s educate and remind them by example and encouragement. Some are creating new businesses which help stem the youth and brain drain. We can shape development, or be crushed by the onslaught. It’s not your secret.

      Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. Dan, you seem to think that promotion of the Adirondacks means promoting tourism at its worst, the sort that results in changing wild land into theme parks. Promotion of what is already there is not a threat to the park and can help sustain the population there without being destructive. An example is the effort to improve and expand Internet access throughout the park, a move which will allow telecommunting for tech workers who don’t want to live in a city. That could easily include the children of some folks who live in the park. There are other possibilities for promotion of jobs and economic activity that should be pursued as well. People need to be able to make a living and tourism is only one way to do that.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  13. Steven says:

    I would be more alarmed by fracking in the Adirondacks than tourists. That will cause far more damage than tourism,or a few more supermarkets or hotels. Just my two cents .

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  14. Tom Vawter says:

    Dan is a classic scold and Puritan, someone who frets over the fact that someone somewhere might be having fun. He’s scornful of those who don’t share his puritanical values and his view of what the park shoul be like.

    There is plenty of room w/in the Blue Line for clustered, smart development, leaving wilderness relatively untrammeled and providing sustinence for those of us who need to make a living here. Yes, the transportation corridors may be crowded sometimes, and yes, some folks may be shopping and not hiking. But fewer of us will have to go on unemployment during mud season, when Main Street in Old Forge is nothing like the Main Street Dan describes.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  15. catharus says:

    I have the same concerns, Dan. Thanks!
    BTW, have you got your license as a professional guide yet?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

    • M.P. Heller says:

      Wait, wait, wait. Stop the presses….

      Dan is seeking a guiding license but published a piece against tourism? So….. Only tourism that he doesn’t directly benefit from is bad? Charming. He’ll be a wonderful addition to our guiding community. (sarcasm) The folks at NYSOGA will eat him up if they find that hes responsible for publishing pieces like this. Likely,I’ll lead the vanguard.

      Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

    • Dan Crane Dan Crane says:

      Not yet. All the training is done, but I still have to take (and pass) the exam. I am planning on doing that next month. So, stay tuned!

      Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. Naj Wikoff Naj Wikoff says:

    Dan.

    Your lament is all well and good, but I did not hear alternative suggestions for strengthening the economy. Should we expand the prison system? Expect an increase in government spending leading to more jobs at the DEC, APA, DOT, State Police, and Border Patrol? Boot up the lumber industry. Trying mining again?

    I grew up in the Adirondacks. My family has been here 7 generations. As a boy in Lake Placid families generally had 90 days to make their money to survive on for the balance of the year. Today, thanks to both tourism and environmental protections, the economy is better, still our school populations are shrinking and many young families are not staying or moving here, though the increase in small scale organic farming is a bright spot.

    While you remember fondly the quiet streets of Old Forge , I remember the wide spread poverty of those days as an outcome of those quite streets you so enjoyed. Back then I went winter hiking and camping and met less than a handful of others in the back woods at that time.

    Yes tourism has its limitations, but it is a vital part of the mix. What we need to do is encourage it to spread out to the less known though no less beautiful parts of the Park and to think of ways to encourage visitation during the shoulder season. I also think that the healing benefits of the North Woods nor the cultural or heritage resources are getting enough attention.

    Good news is the growing in cooperation amongst and increasingly diverse array of people, agencies and points of view to develop new visions and actions that has lead to the creation of Common Ground and winning two back-to-back state economic development awards. As a result I remain more optimistic about our future, while mindful of protecting the wild character of this region we call home.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  17. M.P. Heller says:

    I am reposting this piece to the Lake George Under 40 webpage. Its a classic example of how NOT to move our communities forward into the future. Selfish desires obstructing the greater good of the community is what has gotten our town to the point it is today. Its outdated, hackneyed, and anachronistic. The current movement by the younger business owners to improve both the asthetic and the quality of the businesses here is to be lauded.

    Do you homework Dan. Tourism is not a new thing here. If Apollos and Lydia Martin Smith were still around they could demonstrate for you how many tourists from big cities visited them as far back as 1848 in Long Lake, later at Hunter’s House in Saranac, and finally for decades at the Hotel in Brighton. (Currently the site of Paul Smith’s College) Mr. Smith also owned the Paul Smith’s Electric Light & Gas Company, brought postal service to the area, and built and operated an electric railroad spur from Brighton to Lake Clear where it met the Mohawk & Malone Railway. He brought telegraph and later telephone to the area, and also had the only stock ticker in the Adirondacks wired directly to the NY Stock Exchange for the use of his wealthy and influential guests. Mr. Smith with Mr. Louis Marshall, his friend, were hugely involved in getting the state to pass the “Forever Wild” Amendment to the NY State Constitution.

    Development can be a wonderful thing if done properly and can be done in tandem with preservation as Apollos Smith demonstrated for us well over 100 years ago. Fearmongering like is present in this piece only serves to divide people, and shows an obtuse understanding of how the communities in the Park evolved, and how they are looking towards the future.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  18. Bob Meyer says:

    Dan, Many constructive comments above. As a fervent environmentalist, pro wilderness, more Forest Preserve kind of guy, I urge you to read them carefully & take note.
    While philosophically I agree with you, I fear your purist stance only serves to further polarize things.
    The people of the Park need jobs [& not just seasonal with unemployment checks in between]. The issue of youth exodus and what it means for the VAST MAJORITY of Adirondack towns is VERY serious & REAL.
    There’s ugly growth that takes away from the Park’s character and smart growth that enhances it. Instead of negative complaining & pining [excuse the pun] for the “good old days” [which weren’t really so good for the Forest Preserve, if one knows Adirondack history] we need education toward an enlightened future for the Adirondack Park we love so much.
    Personally, when I’m in camp near Pottersville, I stay away from Lake George. My money is spent IN Pottersville, Chestertown, Schroon Lake etc. It’s an educated choice.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • M.P. Heller says:

      Its a personal choice Bob. An educated choice would be to spend money in every community you come in contact with in the Adirondacks. The facts of the matter are that Schroon, Chestertown, and other communities within a short drive of Lake George all see dollars generated from the tens of thousands of folks who stay in Lake George. There is no other place that could host that many out of towners in the area. If you have ever seen a group of motercycle riders shopping or eating in Tupper, Long Lake, Schroon, Ti, etc, and its the begining of June, its Lake George that brought that business. Lets all agree to stop dumping on Lake George and instead help the active folks there promote the new movement to make the Village a much more appropriate place which the other towns and communities can benefit from.

      Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Bob Meyer says:

        MP Heller,
        I’m not dumping on Lake George. In fact, i have a very dear, life long friend who owns a business in the village and i’m always recommending him to folks. I also appreciate the business it generates outward to other places in the Adirondack Park. I don’t see Lk. George in black & white. It’s just that,for me, the majority of what is offered there is not for me. I love the boat rides on what is one of THE WORLD’s most beautiful lakes!… And i love……..The Tiki Lounge… would you ever have guessed? :-)
        I’m not making a value judgment on the tourists who visit nor the kind of tourist attractions that are in the village. It’s just my personal choice to frequent & economically support other areas of the Park.
        Let’s face it, most folks who ever step foot in the Adirondacks do it in 1 of 3 places: #1 Lk. Goorge, #2 Lk. Placid & #3 Old Forge with Saranac Lk. trailing behind.
        The Park is vast. There’s room for all kinds of folks from families in Motels enjoying rides, restaurants etc to ardent off trail bushwhackers & all inbetween.
        My hope is that the movers & shakers in the Park can grow to present a unified branding of the Park that welcomes all folks. With smart growth & long term planning, it can be a win win situation for business and the environment!

        Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • Ellen says:

          Bob,

          I’m sure those 3 places get the majority of visitors, but certainly not all. It all depends what you’re looking for. In the years my husband and I have been visiting the Adirondacks, we’ve stayed either in Keene Valley or Wilmington… but think about the many other communities in the Adirondacks that COULD get people spending the night if they had lodging facilities and restaurants. And that’s part of what many regional leaders are advocating these days – a way to “share the wealth” so that the smaller but no less interesting communities can also see economic benefit from tourism.

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          • Bob Meyer says:

            Ellen, i could not agree more.. Over the New Year we stayed in Long Lake & Speculator precisely BECAUSE we had never stayed there before. We always consciously spend some money locally wherever we go in the Park. I agree about the need for more [smart hopfully green, tastfull Adirondack style] lodging in the smaller areas of the Park.
            Share the wealth for sure. This relates to some of what Pete nelson has written about.

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  19. a says:

    There ain’t nothing to worry about. 99% of people won’t go past Adirondack Northway on to a two lane road, much less drive on a dirt road and get their car dirty. A few people may go to Lake Placid, or maybe to High Peaks but not past there.

    After all, the woods is filled with bears and coyotes that eat small children, not to mention lots of crazies with their assault riffles out hunting and shooting everything that moves. I know, I saw it on television.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. Bill Ott says:

    Dan,

    You certainly have taken a lot of hits on this.
    Keep your chin up. Bushwhackers must remain united (though alone).

    Bill Ott
    Lakewood, Ohio

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. Charlie says:

    I have a job PJ,and I would not like to be one of those who are seeking employment nowadays as jobs are scarce.Unless it’s an oil or gas-related job coincidentally. Sure people need work,and sure,tourism boost the economy,but where does it end? Every thing is about money.The fracking people’s biggest catchword is ‘jobs.’ Jobs at what expense? Pollution of clean water,death of more ecosystems.I know better.When they say jobs they play on the desperation and ignorance of the general populace.In reality it’s about making a few rich people richer at the expense of every one and every thing else.Fifty years from now they will be saying the same thing ‘jobs.’ Surely there must be a better way than to keep building entertainment centers to temporarily appease a convenienced,mindless society.Dan is right when he implies more people means more pollution,more roads,more noise…. We jump on things for maybe the right reasons,but in many cases,we do more damage than we do good,but dont realize it until it is too late.This society needs more people with vision and less people with just money on their mind.As Bill McKibben said in his latest book, “We have to stop our economic way of thinking real soon.” There are no easy solutions,but it seems to me we keep doing the same things over and over and things are getting worse….not better.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    • Rick says:

      Tourism doesn’t only boost the economy, it is the economy. Everyone living in Old Forge/Central Adirondacks owes their existence to tourism. Sure, it has adverse effects. Everything does. Minimalist hikers and paddlers come here, love it, and bring other like-minded people. Many, many others. Most of them drive into the Park, some shop in local grocery stores, others treat themselves to restaurant meals or new gear. Some buy real estate and businesses, and then bring their friends. That makes it possible for native residents (desperate and ignorant to you) to earn a living. Isn’t it funny how popular places attract more people and become more popular? It doesn’t end. The vision isn’t a locked door; it’s a pathway.

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  22. Charlie says:

    “After all, the woods is filled with bears and coyotes that eat small children, not to mention lots of crazies with their assault riffles out hunting and shooting everything that moves. I know, I saw it on television.”

    They shoot things that dont move too…like brand new taxpayer dollar outhouses in Moose River,octaganol signs… The state people built a beautiful handicapped outhouse in Moose River at one of the camps.When you step inside after it rains it is soaked thanks to the holes in the roof from pellets (or slugs) from some fools gun. Real nice! If they started charging fees in places like Moose River i’d support it if it kept the riff raff out,which is known to be the case in some locales.

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  23. AAlbert J. Haberle,DVM says:

    In the 1970’s, a short time ago, the Carribean Islands were backwaters, quite like the Adirondacks. They have changed both for the better, incomes of residents and worse, rampant road traffic, hotel/home construction and tourism. This is because of ease of access by relativly cheep airline access. The Adiorndacks are actually harder to reach at this time from the population centers of the East. The rules of developement that exist, or should exist, on the Carribean Islands are, strange as it may seem, those that the Adirondack communities should consider in the near future.
    One major problems not mentioned in regard to the Adiorondacks which is so apparent in the Carribean vacation lands, is the division of those with money with the most often much poorer natives. Auto dumps and shanties with multimillion dollar seasonal mountain side homes. Shops for jewlery where food markets formerly existed.
    The shores of Lake Champlain, especially those in the Adirondack Park, (and yes, the Park atarts at 98 feet above sea level) are at risk of become private preserves with underground parking. Check out the Rolling Hills Farm Project in Westport, NY. Not all that bad an idea but what about the rest of us, those who live here most of the four seasons?
    It is not simple but it is something to think about.

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  24. Cloudsplitter says:

    There are so many intertwined issues here, it difficult to find a place to start. There are so many types of “tourists” who visit the Dacks, you can’t put them in one category. Many gravitate to Lk George, Lk Placid, etc, looking for tourist attractions that are tied to the region’s beauty. Others are coming to paddle, ski, hike, etc. in the remote areas, esp. the High Peaks. But all of us know that after Labor Day, most of the towns are pretty desolate and all of the Chambers of Commerce are looking to bring tourists in for shoulder season events (Halloween Pug Parade) or winter fests (Winter Festivals). As a former business owner I would love to have had more visitors stop by Pottersville.
    Bottom line as said above, smart growth, promotion of sustainable industry, and education of those who visit our lakes, mountains, forests, will lead to a Park we all can share (and not just dread the traffic for 8 weeks of summer).

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  25. Dan, Dan, Dan:

    (That was fun; sorry to copy you Nick but Dan and I have had a little thing going, a little mutual chastisement).

    There you go again, making me write a different Dispatch for next week than intended. There is simply too much stuff here to respond in comment.

    I think your approach is overly simplistic and a little bit troubling. I’m kind of surprised you haven’t actually taken more heat from people who would accuse you of having an “us versus them” attitude.

    As for me, I am pretty sure you don’t really have an “us versus them” attitude. I think you have more of an “us versus the Adirondacks” attitude and damn it someone needs to stick up for the health of the park and the creatures within. To that attitude I say bravo.

    However to the attitude toward what you “kitchen sink” as tourism I say oops. So I’m going to have to disagree with you next Saturday.

    One last thing: we may argue in print here and there but we’re undoubtedly made of similar cloth and I’m sure we’d get along famously in person, especially on the trail. Too bad that will be so unlikely to happen since you’ll mostly be out there in the rain, muck and humidity traipsing around with all these damned tourist interlopers and sucking down black flies while I favor being out there now in lovely, crisp, pristine, magnificent winter where often not even ardent bushwhacking fools are to be found.

    Oh well.

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  26. Bill Ott says:

    Pete,

    I hope in your next dispatch you include some park history. I have read that the park was created to protect the Erie Canal and Hudson river from logging. I believe one of the main functions of the park is still to protect the NYC water supply. Protecting the wilderness has become a top priority since 1971, and before. I do not know if enhancing tourism is in the charter. As I have stated in prior statements, I wish somebody from the DEC or other agency would check in here, thereby giving this site more credibility and shutting down people, even me, who do not know what they are talking about.

    You won’t see me before March Pete,

    Bill Ott
    Lakewood, Ohio

    ps: tell everybody Robinson River is a waste of time.

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  27. Sue says:

    Dan,
    In your bio at the end of the article it says you’ve “been visiting the Adirondacks since childhood”. Am I to conclude you are one of the interlopers you so disdain? How could you possibly write what you’ve written with any kind of conscience thought about what you’re really saying here? If you don’t live within the Park you’ve no idea what a challenge it is to do so and make a living. Tourism IS our economy! Your views are incredibly short-sighted and, dare I say, ignorant. Sorry.

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  28. Sue says:

    Just a short addition, Dan. The 14th Amendment to the NYS Constitution states the lands shall be preserved and administered to be enjoyed by the people. This provision does not limit the NUMBER of people who may enjoy it.

    “Sec. 4. The policy of the state shall be to conserve and
    protect its natural resources and scenic beauty and encourage the
    development and improvement of its agricultural lands for the
    production of food and other agricultural products. The
    legislature, in implementing this policy, shall include adequate
    provision for the abatement of air and water pollution and of
    excessive and unnecessary noise, the protection of agricultural
    lands, wetlands and shorelines, and the development and
    regulation of water resources. The legislature shall further
    provide for the acquisition of lands and waters, including
    improvements thereon and any interest therein, outside the forest
    preserve counties, and the dedication of properties so acquired
    or now owned, which because of their natural beauty, wilderness
    character, or geological, ecological or historical significance,
    SHALL BE PRESERVED AND ADMINISTERED FOR THE USE AND ENJOYMENT OF THE PEOPLE.
    Properties so dedicated shall constitute the state
    nature and historical preserve and they shall not be taken or
    otherwise disposed of except by law enacted by two successive
    regular sessions of the legislature.”

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    • John Warren John Warren says:

      It doesn’t expressly limit the number of people who may enjoy the Forest Preserve, but the very first line says “The policy of the state shall be to conserve and protect its natural resources and scenic beauty”

      Enjoyment of the people can have a lot of meanings. You may interpret that to mean widespread use. Others would argue, as Dan has here, that you can “enjoy” it so much you essentially destroy it.

      I think it’s pretty clear the Forest Preserve should not be destroyed for the enjoyment of people. What level of destruction is likely, and what level has already occurred, is the point of the discussion Dan has raised.

      That’s neither ignorant, nor none of his business because he doesn’t live inside the Blue Line.

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