Sunday, February 21, 2016

Efforts To Mechanize Adirondack Forests Hurt Wilderness

biking photo by DEC 2The Adirondack Forest Preserve has largely been divided between motorized and non-motorized lands, mechanized and non-mechanized areas. Primarily, these dividing lines separate where automobiles, snowmobiles, and bicycles are allowed and where they are prohibited. On one side, people walk, run, cross country ski or paddle a canoe. On the other side people can use motor vehicles and ride bikes. By and large, the separation of uses has worked well. It’s coherent and there’s virtue in its simplicity. As one long-time local government leader often quipped referring to Forest Preserve advocates, “Wilderness is yours and Wild Forest is ours.”

Not so anymore. There is an effort underway now to amend the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP), the first serious policy changes in a generation (since 1987). These amendments seek, among other things, to shift up to 39,000 acres away from Wilderness and closer to that of Wild Forest.

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) took public comments until late January on a draft proposal to allow bicycle riding and maintenance with motor vehicles by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in Forest Preserve lands classified as “Primitive” areas. The APA is considering whether to makes changes to just the 10,000-acre Essex Chain Lakes-Pine Lake Primitive areas or to make these changes across all 39,000 acres of Primitive areas.

biking photo by DECThe APA proposals seek to allow changes to the definition of Primitive areas from near Wilderness to something far less, to, in other words, Forest Preserve more like Wild Forest where bikes and motor vehicles are permitted. Wilderness (1,161,257 acres), Primitive (38,984), and Canoe Area (17,637) lands total 1,217,878 acres compared with 1,298,929 acres of Wild Forest lands.

Primitive lands are Forest Preserve areas identified as lands that one day could be upgraded to Wilderness (think the Lake Lila or Hudson Gorge models) or lands that have some permanent constraint that preclude Wilderness classification, yet should be managed with this high level of protection (think Valcour Island, which will never meet the minimum 10,000-acre Wilderness requirement). The APA calls these Type 1 and Type 2 Primitive Areas. Today, there are 40 Primitive Areas and 22 are identified as Type 1. Interestingly, though the Essex Chain Lakes and Pine Lake Primitive areas were created in December 2013, the APA has never said whether they are Type 1 or Type 2.

Basic Guideline 1 for Primitive Areas in the APSLMP, which sets the management standard, states: “The primary primitive management guideline will be to achieve and maintain in each designated primitive area a condition as close to wilderness as possible, so as to perpetuate a natural plant and animal community where man’s influence is relatively unapparent.” Basic Guideline 2 states “No additions or expansions of non-conforming uses will be permitted.” A decision to allow bikes and motor vehicles in Primitive Areas does not conform to these management objectives.

biking photo by DEC 3What this means is that the APA is, in essence, creating a new kind of Forest Preserve classification. Call it Wilderness-lite or Primitive Type 3; it’s a fundamental shift away from managing Primitive lands as essentially Wilderness. It also means, for all practical purposes, that these lands will not be upgraded and classified as Wilderness at some future point.

The immediate choice before the APA is to either make the changes to allow bicycle use and management and maintenance by the DEC using motor vehicles in just the Essex Chain-Pine Lake Primitive Areas or to make these changes for all 39,000 acres of Primitive Areas. It is likely that the APA will act to make these changes for the Essex Chain Lakes-Pine Lake Primitive areas, though there is a great deal of pressure to make these changes apply to all Primitive areas. The APA is expected to make its decision on March 10-11, 2016.

What we’re watching is the Wild Forestization of Primitive Areas.

Photos provided by the New York State Department of Conservation.

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Peter Bauer is the Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks.He has been working in various capacities on Adirondack Park environmental issues since the mid-1980s, including stints as the Executive Director of the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and FUND for Lake George as well as on the staff of the Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century. He also worked at Adirondack Life Magazine. He served as Chair of the Town of Lake George Zoning Board of Appeals and has served on numerous advisory boards for management of the Adirondack Park and Forest Preserve. Peter lives in Blue Mountain Lake with his wife and two children, enjoys a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities throughout the Adirondacks, and is a member of the Blue Mountain Lake volunteer fire department.Follow Protect the Adirondacks on Facebook and Twitter.

113 Responses

  1. Bruce says:

    Putting ordinary cruising style bicycle use in the same class as motorized use is a big stretch. I might agree if we’re talking about those folks who like to go off road and tear up the landscape with mountain bikes (they can have their own trails elsewhere), but ordinary bike riding does little or no damage to hard-packed gravel logging roads, and is at least as quiet as a gaggle of hikers going along scuffing the road with their feet and chit-chatting.

    The SLMP should be amended to separate and delineate these uses. I don’t believe the SLMP was intended to be a static document, but rather a dynamic one, subject to change as needs change. If it were intended to be static, there wouldn’t be a mechanism in place to amend it.

    And if environmentalists want to see these roads grow back into the forest, then let it be so, but allow bicyclists to use them while they are still suitable. The DEC has already shown that it can close roads later, when no longer deemed suitable for a particular use.

    • Bruce says:

      I should have added “at least as quiet as” and environmentally responsible as a gaggle of hikers…

    • Taras says:

      “… ordinary bike riding … is at least as quiet as a gaggle of hikers going along scuffing the road with their feet and chit-chatting …”

      Haha! Well played! Let me try it:

      … ordinary hiking … is at least as quiet as a platoon of cyclists churning the road with their tires and prattling …

      • M.P. Heller says:

        So there is a consensus that hikers and bikers have a similar auditory impact. Wonderful. Now that’s progress!

        • Taras says:

          Methinks the slap-slapping of plastic snowshoes on snowcrete trumps whatever decibels cyclists can produce! Unless they choose the nuclear option and resort to the brapping of a “balloon against spokes”!


          • M.P. Heller says:

            Lol Taras.

            I agree the slap/crunch, slap/crunch of plastic snowshoes on snowcrete is definitely louder than a half dozen cyclists being chased by a similar number of hikers. Even my Atlas snowshoes are pretty loud in those conditions and they have floating decks and aluminum tube frames.

            Perhaps the loudest hikers are the ones dealing with various types of black puddings which will be developing in the coming months. It’s their often loud and colorful verbal contributions that really ring out for all to hear. 😉

  2. Chris R. says:

    I disagree with your view of the SMP Basic guidelines. Bicycles can travel just as easily as man in primitive areas with no more damage than a pack of booted hikers. As these formerly private lands are bought by the state why not use the infrastructure they afford for the enjoyment of visitors. Even if the lands are let to revert to a more wild condition these roads could revert to rough paths for walking and cycling. These paths are the reason people want to visit, let people enjoy them without motors! Don’t always be looking for ways to keep people off these lands. These lands need to be enjoyed – by people – so they have a reason to support them with their tax dollars and votes. Promoting these areas for quiet use should be the first aim of us all. Fill up with woods with excited campers, hikers and cyclists, kayakers and canoeists. Spread them across the mountains and rivers, and let them soak in the happiness the woods will share with them.

  3. john says:

    I’ve been thinking about this issue. I come to the conclusion that offering a safe place for family cycling, on pre-existing gravel roads, w/o cars, is a good option. No forest is being cut down, earth moved, and so on. These heavy duty roads already exist, built for huge trucks, lots of them. These roads often go through recently cut over land do not yet make nice walking trails. But they’re fine for family biking. Biking is nice to add as an option to hiking and paddling for visitors. There is no noise issue like snowmobiles. What could be the problem with this?

    We’re talking about 39,000 acres out of what, 6 million? Without any new trail building? Hold of with the “this is the end of the Park, send money now spiel”. I come out thinking this is a good option.

    • troutstalker says:

      Because some of these people will not stay on the roads! They will see a hiking trail and ride their bikes on it. Me personally do not want to see a mechanized object in a wilderness setting. They can park their bikes near the road and hike to their destination.

  4. Boreas says:

    As I see it, the problem with bicycle usage on hardened roads isn’t one of whether we should allow cruising bikes and/or disallow off-road bikes, but rather how would regulations it ever be enforced? A hardened road is an easy way for an off-road cyclist (ORC) to get farther into a sensitive area before they go off road and cause damage. Even a patrolling officer who comes across a mud-covered ORC on the road would have a serious challenge trying to prosecute the cyclist for damage they may actually caused while on an off-road ‘adventure’ 10 minutes prior. The same is true for motorized vehicles. Unless they are somehow caught in the process of an off-road ‘adventure’, prosecution is unlikely, yet the damage is done.

    Enforcement is even more of a problem with fewer DEC staff engaged in actual patrolling. Unless we have the staffing to patrol and enforce new areas, we should be very careful about opening areas that will likely see abuse and damage. Current staffing levels are providing inadequate patrolling of the areas we have now. Should we stretch them any thinner?

    • john says:

      In today’s world of smart phones and facebook and major violators would be caught by other people on video. Example: the beer keg event on Phelps.

      • Walker says:

        John, I think that depended on the violators posting their own images on their facebook pages, making IDing them easy.

  5. Marco says:

    There is a huge difference between Motorized and Mechanical. Yes, I rode bikes in many areas that make sense. But, bike packing is not something I do. Most bike riders do not take the time to prepare for overnights. Why should they? They often travel 25-30 miles per day so a simple overnight at the first camping area is worthless to them. They don’t bother to prep. No bug dope for example. They move too fast. No shelters, Why when they can be back at a base camp somewhere? Often lunch is a bar or sandwich. They carry all the water they need. And so on.

    Usually backcountry skills are noticeably lacking or nonexistent in this group. This can lead to real problems if there is a problem. A fall can brake spokes and people leaving them in precarious places. I cannot imagine climbing peaks with one, nor crossing a lake. Regardless if a portion of trail IS bike-able, often the other portion is not. There was a couple trying to do the NPT with bikes a few years ago. They didn’t come close to finishing… Mostly, they were pushing their bikes and looked extremely frustrated with the occasional blowdown. The NPT is a relatively civilized trail, but biking it is not reasonably possible without large amounts of trail work.

    Most of the trails in the ADK’s are like that. No, they should be outlawed on NY trails except where the route is an old road and has access from a paved road or campground.

    Even hauling a canoe on wheels op a good trail is not the most pleasant experience. Leave the primitive, no mechanical conveyances (except handicapped) rule intact.

    Yes, enforcement is an issue. But, like most north county attitudes, if someone is stupid enough to try it, go for it. Darwin Awards are freely given in the ADK’s. Of course, they are given faster to mechanical contrivances.

    • john says:

      I believe this question to be about bikes on old logging roads, not foot trails. Smartphone photos and videos on Facebook will reveal dumb people off roads.

      • Bruce says:


        I agree. No matter what group we’re talking about, yes even hikers who create herd paths, cut illegal trails and make illegal campsites, skiers who cut trees, and irresponsible campers (remember the story a few months ago about lean-to users?), there will always be someone who doesn’t like the status quo and operate outside the rules. So if we assume there are bad actors in any demographic, shouldn’t Wilderness be closed to all users? Why do I hear teeth grinding?

  6. rc says:

    I think bikes are great!


    when they are used at the wrong time of year on un-surfaced roads, they gouge a rain trough that leads to erosion that boots can’t match. I speak of this after a weekend of seeing multiple bike trails cut through wet, muddy roads.

    common sense would make this a non-issue: stay off mud, unless it’s your own property and you don’t mind spending the effort with shovel to fix it

  7. Tony Goodwin says:

    I mostly agree with Peter that the “primitive” designation is being changed to be more like “wild forest”. Primitive should only be used when an area has the character of wilderness and deserving of that classification; but because of size or existing non-conforming structures or uses can’t be classified as wilderness. Primitive should not just become sort of a “middle classification” between wilderness and wild forest.

    Where Peter and I probably disagree is my belief that everything west of the Chain Lakes Road should have been classified as wild forest. As I’ve said before, this doesn’t have to mean water skiing on Third Lake, but it easily permits bicycling on existing roads and perhaps slightly easier access to the water for non-motorized boats without having to resort to bending the definition of “primitive”. Remember that wild forest is still Forest Preserve which makes it better protected than much of the rest of public land in the US. And even with Essex Chain as wild forest, there was still enough additional new Forest Preserve to create a new wilderness area – the Hudson Gorge Wilderness.

    • Cranberry Bill says:

      Perhaps primitive areas should just be zoned for primitive bikes, like those with the big front wheels. Nobody should have a problem with that.

  8. Peter Bauer says:


    Good comments. Thank you. I think the larger point here is that the current system has worked well in the past. I think bike riding is fine on roads or trails in Wild Forest that are rideable. I do not think that allowing bikes in Wilderness is a good idea, such as the Five Ponds or High Peaks or Siamese Ponds. We’re greatly concerned that the present efforts to manage Primitive areas more like Wild Forest rather than Wilderness is the start of the slippery slope that will push the argument, if not open the doors, for bikes in Wilderness. I think the DEC’s current plans to expand the network of specially designed single track bike trails in the Wilmington Wild Forest is a good move as was the DEC’s exploration of building similar trail networks in the Moose River Plains.

    Adirondack Wilderness is really what is special about the Adirondack Park and efforts to undermine Wilderness, what little we have in this state and east of the Mississippi, should be resisted. Lets keep bikes and motor vehicles out of Primitive and Wilderness areas.

  9. Tom Payne says:

    Funny, this is from the same person that wants to manage wild forest as wilderness. Slippery indeed.

  10. Taras says:

    As a hiker, I don’t have a problem with the concept of (dodging) bicycles on old forest roads in Primitive areas. However, I admit it’ll feel a little less primitive the first time I’m passed by a tandem or recumbent bike! That’ll take some getting used-to.

    When considering the category of “non-motorized mechanized vehicle” it occurred to me that mountainboarding fits the bill (a.k.a. off-road/ATB- All Terrain Boarding; it’s a thing).

  11. Tim-Brunswick says:

    Guess you’re all going to have to start “sharing” the ADK’s with others .!

    Do try and get use to it, because NYS DEC is “FINALLY” coming to their senses and realizing that the ADKs/Forest Preserve belong to all of us and not just a select few with their limited views and incessant “wilderness” and more “wilderness” rant……..

  12. David Christie says:

    I think Peter has hit on the problem – watering down of the ADK mandate from preserving wilderness to recreational value. Personally, if I am in a place called wilderness or primitive, I don’t want to hear or see anything mechanized, and I love to bike. There are so many options for biking in the woods that we don’t have to introduce them into primitive areas. There is a difference between passing another person on foot, than having one whiz past you at 25 mph or more on a bike. The occasional encounter with another by foot in a primitive or wilderness setting is an opportunity not a clash. Keep bikes out of the wilderness, and out of primitive areas.

    • M.P. Heller says:

      7 MPH on a bike is enough to double my best pace on foot. Don’t need to be doing 25 to go whizzing by me.

    • Bruce says:


      “watering down of the ADK mandate from preserving wilderness to recreational value”

      “Mandate” implies that which MUST be done once it’s in place. Since there is a mechanism in place for the APA to amend the SLMP, the classifications are not mandates, as they would be if there were no legal way to change them.

      I’m not saying wilderness shouldn’t be preserved, but genuine preservation and allowing modifications to the wilderness to ease human use are two different things. In the case of these already existing roads, no one is suggesting modification of the wilderness, just allowing certain low impact uses for the existing infrastructure.

  13. Hope says:

    The solution is more Wild Forest classification. Peter espouses creating MORE Wilderness not just preserving the Wilderness classified areas already in existence. Skip the Primitive classification altogether and call it Wild Forest and plan for the type of use that is requested. It may have bikes or it might not. There might be snowmobile access or not.

  14. Bruce says:

    As I see it, the “slippery slope” really begins with any modification of Wilderness areas allowing “controlled” human use. First it’s a hiking trail with trailhead parking so folks can get to key areas, along with the necessary bridges and boardwalks, then lean-tos. Somewhere along the way, trash, herd paths and other misuse rears it’s ugly head, to an extent dictated by an area’s popularity. Unless one happens to be one of the few who strive to get as far away from signs of other users as possible, the “wilderness” begins to lose its flavor.

    I believe some time ago there was an article on cairn building in the high peaks or other rocky, mountain areas. Except for official cairns marking trails, people seem to be unable to resist the temptation to pile loose stones, making their own personal cairn, sometimes with notes hidden in them and sometimes distracting attention away from the real trail markers. A sure sign of the “wilderness” experience.

    One of my favorite pet peeves is the blue, green, yellow and red “trash flowers” which spring up near vehicle parking at trailheads. People stop on the way there to get a cold drink, and if they’re still sucking on it when they get to the trailhead, they carry it with them down the trail. When the cup is empty, is it carried out? Maybe.

    • M.P. Heller says:

      School bus yellow paint blazes every 50 feet above treeline aren’t the greatest either, but they do help keep people off fragile plant life. What I really don’t like are the ladders, stairs, cables, etc. that are really starting to take over. Especially in the EHP. I think it’s ok to close routes rather than build them out with infrastructure. I’d still get up Colden without all the new “improvements”. There are at least two popular routes with no official trail, and a third abandoned route that is still climbable for the intrepid. The concept of wilderness is discordant with infrastructure to accommodate hikers. If you can’t do it, you can’t do it. If a route needs to be closed because of damage from overuse, it needs to be closed, not paved with pressure treated lumber. There are other ways to hike to the top of something if that’s what you want to do. A trail or a herd path is not the only way. There were 46ers long before there were trails to all the peaks.

      • Pete Nelson says:

        M.P. I could not agree with you more. Improving trails to mitigate or prevent damage is great. Improving trails to make things easier for people is one of the reasons I rarely go on trails any more.


      • Taras says:

        It’s my understanding the “rulebook” for trail maintenance favors the preservation of the wilderness over hiker’s convenience. They harden a trail to protect it from hiker-induced erosion (banks and slopes) as opposed to making it easier for hikers.

        Fine and good, but lately the efforts are moving from low-key (a ladder here, a bog-bridge there) to heroic. If you have to install a staircase, perhaps the trail has met its match and, as suggested by M.P., needs to be rerouted. Switchbacks instead of staircases.

        I’d used to think the bureaucracy makes it easier to get approval for a staircase than a trail-reroute. However, they recently rerouted the start of the Tabletop trail. The rules governing these changes are becoming murkier to fathom (for outsiders like me).

        • M.P. Heller says:

          Exactly Taras. Ladder on UWJ? Yeh, ok. I see that as being reasonable. The “new” Ore Bed staircase? Not so much. Especially when it’s next to a fresh slide that is grippy like coarse sandpaper. Is the slide too steep to climb or presents too much exposure for some folks? I’m sure it does, but hiking to Marcy Dam is a challenge for some. Speaking of Marcy Dam, was building the new bridge there really necessary? Would the ‘Squirrel Crossing’ have been sufficient and maybe there are times you just can’t cross there due to high water? God forbid have to hike through South Meadows instead? The bridge at the Chicken Coop confluence was never replaced. People still make it across. Occasionally people get stranded on the lean-to side. Just ask Mudrat.

          If things were less accomodative to hikers perhaps people would take more care when planning trips. Impacts both visual and physical would be reduced. (Read, improved.) Less prepared individuals would either have to become more prepared or choose less rigorous routes. Rescues would likely drop by some measurable amount because the level of experience and preparedness of those overcoming natural obsticles would likely be greater thereby reducing the amount of folks who wandered beyond their skill level.

          We do face a powerful entity in the ADK. Who carry out a lot of these “improvement” projects. While I am a supporter of the ADK, I do wonder if there isn’t a huge conflict of interest in allowing them to do these projects. They have huge expenses even though they are a not for profit. The salaries, building upkeep, and taxes on the lands they own are enormous. It takes people to buy books and maps, rent JBL cabins, register for programs, book nights at the Loj and use the parking facilities there, etc. to pay for this massive overhead. LOTS of people. So I think their desire to build a lot of backcountry hiker accommodations is directly related to this need for many people and their wallets. See the conflict???

  15. Ben Woodard says:

    My first experience with mountain bikes was in 1981 in the High Peaks. My first thought was how this bike could get you into the backcountry quicker. My first impression of seeing riders carry bikes up Mt. Marcy to ride down was the bikes were doomed. Back then, the Marcy Dam Truck Trail, Duck Hole Road, etc. were still in passable condition for motor vehicles in an emergency. And, impact would have been minimal on those truck roads. But, anywhere there was vertical hiking trails hikers complained of high speed near misses and the tire tracks that water would follow to erode the trail. There was no such trail erosion protest about horses in the western High Peaks because they were “traditional” use.

    The question of mechanical use in wilderness is debated throughout parts of the world that embrace the concept of wilderness. In many places, coalitions of multiple type users have formed to give opinion on what land areas could be used by more than hikers, snow shoe, or ski. I now live in Maine and work in a park where you can meet a skier, trail runner, horseback rider, fat biker, or hiker on the same trail. Organized groups such as clubs or businesses have adopted trails to help maintain them.

    As the largest park in the lower 48 states, the Adirondack Park seems large enough to do the same.

  16. Curt Austin says:

    I don’t like slippery slope arguments; it’s throwing sand in the works among those who wish to debate the merits of an actual proposal. Those calling “Slippery slope!” are admitting they don’t have a good argument on the merits.

    Second, I think it is important to be grounded – literally – when discussing these issues. Decisions get skewed when they are made in conference rooms, everyone looking down at pieces of paper, subject to the exhortations of those who claim to understand their true meaning, and who preach their inviolability.

    Someone above described the Eastern High Peaks trail as heavily trashed. That’s not true; it’s an assertion that works in a conference room, not out on the ground.

    On the ground, it is easy to make a good decision about what to do. Bicycles ought to be OK here, but not there. If the words on paper fail to conform to this good, reality-based judgment, change them.

    Let me address one human factor in this debate: it is genuinely disturbing to be slogging along a road on foot, and watch someone effortlessly glide past on a bicycle. Whether quiet or not, whether a friendly word is exchanged or not, no one can escape the feeling that the cyclist is cheating. The waterfall at the end of the trail should only be seen by those who put in the effort, right? You deserve the pleasure and the distinction of seeing it, the cyclist doesn’t. Extra people at the waterfall is bad for your wilderness experience; therefore it diminishes the wilderness. Right?

    If we’re primarily acting upon our own feelings, fellow sloggers, I think the answer is no. The genuinely disturbing thing is having to hike on a road. I hate hiking on roads. If only AMC would let us ride their bus again….

    • Bruce says:


      If you feel the cyclist is “cheating,” it’s only because you choose not to ride a bike where there is a choice, which is your right. When a choice is available, those who choose one over the other can’t be faulted.

    • M.P. Heller says:

      I’m calling BS Curt. There are cyclists who would say it’s annoying to share a trail with hikers. They aren’t any more correct than you are. It’s this kind of one elitist attitude that exists in all user groups that keeps the outdoor community at large fractured and contentious. If you feel cheated because you choose one mode over another in multi use corridors that’s totally in your own head.

      • Curt Austin says:

        I buried my point, which was the opposite of what you picked up on. I was explaining things from the point of view of a hiker’s likely feelings, then I said that feelings were not a good basis for rule-making.

        I find it easy to understand both sides, since I’ve spent a lot of time doing both (hence my phrase “fellow sluggers”). I often argue for moderate positions, since I like doing different things. Not everything; I’m not sympathetic towards ATVs.

        I didn’t do it well, but I was trying to encourage tolerance through understanding.

  17. josh says:

    There seems to be two different threads here.

    1- the legal discussion about classifications
    2- the conflicts, or potential conflicts between user groups (hikers/bikers/horses/etc)

    The legal thing about bikes is the slippery slope discussion. Probably best to come up with a new classification, don’t change an existing one that the law is invested in. The whole classification regime isn’t working, IMHO, but unfortunately continued infighting among advocates does not allow for a rational re-think.

    The conflicts between users I find more irritating. Pete Nelson suggest’s he can’t even stand being on a trail with other hikers in the High Peaks. How sad. Each person wants it all, for themselves and their own particular recreation, alone, with no other humans around when they happen to be there. Each thinks their recreation is the lowest overall impact. Wow, how self serving an attitude. This is what private land is for folks, public land is for the many, not the few.

    We are talking about a very large area of public land. We have to accommodate other people doing other things, things we don’t necessarily like and would not do ourselves. There are two approaches, separate people geographically and/or seasonally, simply demand that they share (OMG sharing!). I’d like to think sharing could work, but maybe not. If not, then we have a different kind of problem.

    • Bruce says:


      The whole purpose of the method allotted to the APA for amending classifications is so changes can be made in a carefully considered manner, rather than ad hoc, or willy nilly, and is LEGAL. The conflicts occur because different user groups have their own ideas about what constitutes “legal,” and what constitutes “careful consideration.” Input is good, but in the end it will be the APA doing its job.

      Look at the last Almanack article on the rail trail. What the APA is required to do in order to amend the SLMP is laid out in black and white.

      If changes weren’t intended, then there would be no need for a delineated method of doing so, right?

      • josh says:

        Bruce- you missed my point

        I understand the SLMP changes needed. There is a process underway, and is a bit backwards, but it is underway, to change it. I think more changes are needed than what has been proposed, but I’m not in the thick of those discussions.

        But only some of the conflict between user groups is about legal issues, what is allowed when and where. Much of it seems to be uninformed and along the lines of I don’t like ‘those people’, or their recreation, the noise they make, the impact they have, blah blah blah. Often this is done under the guise of legal stuff. I get tired of all that. It seems very small minded for such a big chuck of public land that we have to share with each other.

        • Bruce says:

          Sorry, but I think we were saying more or less the same thing, in different ways. I didn’t mean “careful consideration” only in the legal sense, but like you said, blah, blah, blah. Poor choice of words on my part.

  18. Bob Rainville says:

    It’s difficult for me to read this article and most of the comments. It’s sad to hear the old outdated mantra of the “bikes do not belong anywhere off-pavement” crowd. It’s very, very old. Let’s see…as a group, cyclists have no wilderness skills (Marco). As a group, off-road cyclists will require several additional platoons of LEO’s to monitor and likely arrest those that will inevitably break the law (Boreas). Non-cyclists will have to “dodge” riders that are always traveling at speeds at least 25 mph (Taras, David Christie). Do you guys really believe this nonsense?
    Do those that believe even a fraction of this hyperbole apply the same standards to other established users? I’ve had to “dodge” skiers on trails in the backcountry that may be a little out of control. Wilderness skills? I find that many “backpackers” would be dead meat without the contents of their life support system. Navigation without GPS is pretty rare these days. If you need to arrest the “ORC covered in mud” do you do the same to the “backpacker/astronaut covered in mud” too? Ever have a conversation over a Whisperlite International? Modern snowshoes? Bang an aluminum gunnel on a sleek kevlar canoe?
    The hypocrisy is nauseating.
    One final thought. The only thing in common with all off-road cyclists is that they ride a bike. Please, oh please stop attempting to define what an off-road cyclist wants or requires, particularly if you actually have very limited experience on a bike. Some hike to merely bag peaks, some hike to get lost and some thru-hike. They are all accommodated and respected here in the ‘Daks. The cyclist generally does not get that same courtesy nor respect, on road or off.

    “A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourist can in a hundred miles” -Ed Abbey, Desert Solitaire

    • Taras says:

      “Do you guys really believe this nonsense?”
      No, I don’t, because you took my words and mangled them to fit your diatribe.

      I said I wouldn’t mind bikes, even wouldn’t mind dodging them. That’ll happen just like it already does elsewhere (city parks). Your comparison to dodging skiers is on the money.

      I’m “for” not “against” the proposal. I can’t make that any clearer.

    • Boreas says:


      I believe you are guilty of reading these comments through ‘victim’ glasses and seeing only views that counter your views. We are discussing scenarios that would likely happen with changes to the current Master Plan designations. There are both positive and negative aspects to these potential changes, and we are trying to evaluate the benefits vs. risks of changing the regulations Lambasting people who are trying to get their heads around all sides of the issue without offering any personal solutions to the potential misuse of the resource only alienates the people you are hoping to persuade.

      Yes, off-road and off-trail biking are often viewed as the red-haired stepchildren of backcountry activities. Now is the time to properly educate opponents and illustrate the positive aspects of these activities, as well as how their negative aspects can be mitigated. Ultimately, this is the only tactic that will open up more opportunities for these activities in the Park.

      • Bob Rainville says:

        Perhaps I do have “victim” glasses on. Perhaps I do not. Perhaps that helps invalidate my perspective by those seeking to do so. I do not hold my views sacrosanct; actually, I like to be proven wrong and reap the benefit of new knowledge and perspective. But this only occurs with objective discussion and verifiable facts. If a statement is made, you can bet that I will do some research before acceptance. And if it is BS, then I will call it.
        My perspective is borne of decades of “mountain biking” (if you need a label, I dislike labels, personally) along with decades of hiking (46er, NP trail several times, etc), backpacking, WW kayaking, sea kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, fishing, hunting, telemark, snowshoeing, etc., etc. Perhaps I’m becoming grumpy as years pass, but I’m developing an extreme intolerance to hypocrisy, false rationalizations and lack of objective analysis. I also don’t like the occasional tone of the established users: be nice to me and kiss my ring and if you convince me I may let you play. My intent in the comment was not to persuade nor offer ‘personal solutions’, but to highlight bias and the chronic inaccurate statements that inevitably follow this discussion. I have found that you cannot persuade anyone who is hardened in their stance.
        As far as education goes, there are multiple studies that indicate mountain biking does no more environmental/trail degradation than hiking. In spite of this, the phrases “withstand the abuse of”, “degradation of”, “built to withstand”, etc. are often injected into the conversation of trail erosion associated with off road cycling. And just as often, the implication is that footfalls magically impose no such degradation. The science simply does not reflect this, yet it is repeated like verse from scripture. As someone who engages in many different outdoor pursuits and is in the unique position of being in the excluded group, I often observe my effect on the trail and compare it to other users’ impact. My observations tend to confirm what the studies do. And I have seen severe degradation from hiking. This is physics. All solid and liquid objects (shoes, hooves, tires, keel lines, water, snow etc) that come in contact with soil displace soil. Period. It is a complex process with many variables. In this case, my problem lies in the supposition of the accepted users minimal impact; rarely do you hear “designed to bear the abuse of hiking”.
        I do not want world bicycle domination nor espouse unlimited trail access. Like others have stated, I feel that unnatural construction should be extremely minimal in this case (and I come from a BMX and trials background and ride technical lines and features!); if you can’t get there via the natural landscape, then perhaps you shouldn’t be there, whether on foot, bike, boat or ski. I would like the “impact” litmus test applied evenly and universally to current and prospective users.
        The conversation usually then goes to the ‘mechanized’ and ‘wildness’ and how bikes are an affront to the sensibilities of the ‘wildness’ stalwarts. Obviously, less science can be applied here and we go down the philosophy wormhole. Again, though, I often see the splitting of ‘mechanized’ hairs and, conveniently, technology utilized by established users is not questioned. Like telephone poles, something can be everywhere, yet unseen. yet a cell tower franken-fur hidden among conifers is an affront to everything wild.
        In the end, I find it ironic that the bicycle is such a threatening object. It is not always welcome on the road and likewise in the woods. I find it even more ironic that some “environmental” folks take such a hard stance.

        • Boreas says:


          I understand entirely. But you have to realize bicycles are new to the backcountry, hikers are not. The new guys are always going to have a hard time convincing the old guard that they are as ‘benign’ and responsible as the next group. This is human nature and is slow in coming. Additionally, the Master Plan needs to change in some respects to even allow backcountry bikes. So the best thing you can do is be patient and try to work WITH environmental and other groups to make them cognizant of the facts and statistics you mention and try to sway them to your side, not fight them.

    • Marco says:

      Bob, actually I do believe that most bikers do not have the skill set necessary to spend a few nights out in the woods. Many simply do not prepare for the occasional “stuck” night out, they rely on their speed. I have personally seen a distinct lack of preparation. No way to cook or make a fire in an emergency. No way to avoid bugs. No shelter from the elements. Inadequate gear to stay warm. No way to repair their bikes. Just to name a few items…

      • Bob Rainville says:

        I will not say that your assertion does not exist at times, but no more than hikers. You, unfortunately, use the word “most”. And you use the word “skill set”. Huge difference between skill set and equipment. How do you assess their skill set? I don’t know of many cyclists that would stop and engage in a lengthy skill set inquisition. As an ACA open coast sea kayak instructor, one of my pet peeves are with those that rely too heavily on equipment and little on combat paddling skills. As a bike mechanic, I giggle at those that buy tools, yet can’t use them. As an ACLS, PALS and NRP certified respiratory therapist, I cringe when I see an equipment laden hiker/backpacker that couldn’t do mouth to mouth effectively even with the fancy CPR mask that came in the overpriced 1st aid kit they lugged in. I’m survival and evasion school trained…So I’ll ask again, how did you assess the skill sets of these “many” bikers? My contention is that most users of the wilds are relying more on “stuff” and less on skill. Don’t paint broad, nebulous brush strokes unless you can truly back it up.

        • Marco says:

          I agree that many times skills can be equated with gear. But I was talking about simple back country preparation as an example. You may not lack basic skills, but, as a group, I find most bikers inadequately prepared for the conditions expected in the woods.

          How do they get by when something breaks? Usually, only with help. I needed to help one person when he was not adequately prepared to be out. There was no inquisition. He didn’t have bug dope, for example. Piss poor planning.

          In another case, a rider didn’t have a way to make fire, for example. Fire is a basic tool, not just for warmth. Plastics can be mended. Straps repaired. Buckles mended. Metals can be untempered. Food cooked and dried. Bugs can be cleared from your vicinity. Fire is tool. Using one is a skill he didn’t understand because he didn’t even CARRY a lighter. Again, lack of a tool is demonstration of his lack of skills.

          I understand about paddling, I am a kayaker usually doing the trip between Old Forge and St. Regis once a year or so. Paddling efficiently is not the same as paddling. I am 62 years old and keep up with my 35 year old daughter…ha, especially after a few miles. She simply does not know how to paddle efficiently. This is also a skill, but you have to have the paddle, the tool, to demonstrate it.

          There are many bikers along the trail between 8th Lake and Browns Tract Ponds. A simple trip, that may require them to go for help in an emergency, they neither have the tools nor the knowledge to use them. They are simply riding the trail with no saddle bags, no emergency gear, and often enough, little skill at actual riding. Often, they are just kids. Any problem often turns into a day long affair…they didn’t even bring a flashlight let alone food.

          Bikes were invented in response to roads. Without roads, they can fail to be useful. Bikes on backwoods trails is one such case, I believe.

          • Bob Rainville says:

            Obviously, you are hardened in your stance, and unfortunately is based on a handful of interactions. You do not back down from your broad “most” assertion. Very sad, biased opinion.
            If your premise is that you are “adding” to the broad notion that bikes do not belong in the wilderness, I would advise you to broaden your assertion and give examples, in quantity and location. If you can’t keep up with the DEC backcountry rescue reports (predominately ill prepared hikers), then I would say you are guilty of embellishment. I believe you can not produce such numbers.
            My group of riders would meet your “prepared” expectations and most likely teach you a thing or two. So you struck a nerve as one of the “many” riders in the backcountry! Your assertions are lies when applied to the many riders I have had the privilege to be with.

            • Marco says:

              “Obviously, you are hardened in your stance, and unfortunately is based on a handful of interactions.”

              Ha ha…I often ride. I always have a saddle bag or pack and carry basic bike tools. I was also trained and worked as a scientist. Observation and facts dictate the vast majority of my beliefs, not simple wants. These experiences helped form my “opinion.”

              Biased opinion? Yes. My direct experience with a few bikers, and observation of many more (around 200-300 more in the back country) leads me to apply basic biases to match the criteria.

              You are quite correct in asserting the DEC reports. I would not care to embarrass the few I helped. And, the incidents I participated in were not reported to the DEC, I am fairly sure, because they illegally happened on the Northville-Placid Trail. Of course, the numbers would not reflect such “biker” incidents. As I said before, people are free to choose and I would not pretend to enforce rules that the ADK’s will enforce. I see no problem with your choice. Darwin awards are freely given in the ADK’s. And, It is also true that a larger number of hikers would likely produce a larger number of hiker incidents, and, boaters to produce boating incidents. Of course, I would expect “no report” from illegal biking activities in primitive or wilderness areas. Good choice to support your argument.

              As I stated before, you are probably not one of the unprepared bikers. Assuming you are truthful, I would expect your group to be competent in the woods, also. But from personal observation, most bikers are not prepared for back country travel, if, they could even ride the trails.

              A 20pound bike and 20pounds of gear does not mean it is an efficient method for climbing peaks or traversing trails. I am always open to new things, please teach me how climbing Blue Mountain on a bike is efficient. I believe it isn’t. Or traversing the NPT with the blow downs and stream crossings. You cannot ride a bike there.Trails are simply too rugged for most riders. The few extreme athletes who could make the climb over Blue Mountain Ridge on a bike would likely get a LOT of publicity…and one or more tickets. My hat is off to those that can jump a 2-3′ high blow down on a bike. I cannot. Please teach me.

              Of course I am ignoring the trail damage. And any improvements needed to allow bikes. And paving of the trails to make it safe. And side cutting…And…well, I guess I made my point.

              But, any roads can be safely traversed. For thousands of years, we could have invented bicycles to go over trails. We didn’t. There was no need and few paved roads. They were invented in response to well established roads in the 1800’s (of course a few say 1500’s) NOT the foot trails.

  19. Charlie S says:

    If what I read somewhere above that the proposal is for bikes to be allowed on old roads then maybe this might be okay to a degree,but bikes on trails is a different story altogether as I have seen the damage done in a short period of time from bikes on trails. It seems to me there’s a big push for more all kinds of use in the Adirondacks these past few years with ‘a source of revenue’ as the underlying theme. It is good to have dialogue over these issues and also it is good to keep a close eye on the DEC and our State and local bureaucrats who are a whole new breed and who see things in a different light than the mainstream and are too often influenced by forces outside of their constituency.

    • Cranberry Bill says:

      I think you have hit the nail squarely. Sometimes the hammer blow must be repeated many times for the nail to sink home.

  20. Hope says:

    I think the environmental groups should be excited that all these different groups are interested in the Adirondacks. I think this bodes well for the future of the Park rather than the demise. The rub is how to accommodate all this interest for it will foster more interest and respect for efforts to preserve and conserve this wonderful area. The nay Sayers always focus on the minority abusers rather than the majority user groups, most having a lobbying/governing organization that works on education and promotion of the underlying recreational interest whether it be hiking, biking, boating, hunting, etc… It seems that a few environmental organizations are more about excluding the human element from the backcountry rather than educate them to sensitive use.

    • Paul says:

      The numbers of hikers in the Adirondacks continues to rise, there is no threat of a “demise”.

      Any talk of decreasing numbers of Forest Preserve users is a false premise.

    • Boreas says:


      I don’t think you should fault ‘naysayers’ for trying to protect the resources of the Park. As you say, education for all groups prior to using the backcountry is key. However, this rarely occurs. People see a commercial on TV, they buy the gear, and head to the Park to use it. This is when the damage occurs – both harm to the environment and harm to how their activity is viewed by others.

      Eventually most users of the backcountry get their education by responsible comrades or by DEC Rangers. However, this education needs to happen prior to entering the backcountry, not after. Trailheads have an advantage that literature can be posted (though rarely heeded), but what about the vast majority of areas without trailhead kiosks? The question is how do we ensure that people in the backcountry have this education before entering the backcountry? Many parks in other countries require guides for that education and to instill a preservation ethic. Should we be doing that as well?

      • M.P. Heller says:

        Manditory classes and a license. Just like you have to do if you watch to be a hunter or use a bow for hunting or set traps. There are 3 different programs for these three different activities. The classes are designed to educate on safety and regulation before someone can go wandering around the woods hunting or trapping or sitting in a stand with a bow. If we are serious about protection of wilderness designated lands, we should at least consider this option as a serious step towards better stewardship. National Parks often require permits for various activities. Maybe a hybrid of these two concepts would be appropriate here. There will be massive resistance to any such proposals also from the hiking and backpacking community. That is to be expected though. Any time you propose such a drastic policy change the groups that are most directly affected always go up in arms. They also always adjust to the change and go about their business afterwards. Similar major changes have been the permanent ban on camp fires in the Eastern High Peaks, the bear cannister requirements, and the removal of lean-tos in overused and inappropriate areas. Every time there was a huge outcry. Every time people got over it.

        How would you enforce a backcountry permit/license system? Like you enforce everything else. Through education and regulation enforcement. Get caught camping out with no bear cannister in the EHP? Grab your $hit, you are getting a DEC escort back to your car. Wanna argue about it? You can have a ticket to go with your escort. Wanna have an illegal campfire? Here’s your ticket, you can explain to the judge why you think the rules are for other people. Wanna slap a tent down wherever you feel like it and so what if it’s not a legal or designated site? Ticket. Agree or not with the system. That’s how it’s done these days. People get escorted back to their cars all summer long in the EHP. Being out there without a permit/license would be no different.

        • Boreas says:

          I agree – a valid point. But as I mentioned below, not bloody likely to happen. It’s the whole rights vs. privilege argument…

        • Todd Eastman says:

          Stupid idea…

        • Bob Rainville says:

          I’m not a big fan of the license idea. But I see both sides of the coin here. I’m a little suspect of folks that salivate over the idea of regulation and licensure. “I’m sorry son, we can’t go hiking until we sign you up for your 10hr wilderness course.” “Sir, I need to see your BCU level II license before I sell you that kayak.” Perhaps we will need pedestrian licenses too someday; those that suggest it will have some form of data to support such a plan, as usual. And then someone will get rich from holding “free-range human” retreats for those that crave being able to move without seeking licensure and permitting.
          On the other hand, what should be addressed via common sense and the drive for proficiency, is often lacking. As humanity spends less and less time outdoors and is removed from the natural process, he/she seeks what they have been removed from. Outdoor pursuits become condensed exposures as time allows from modern life. Skills that are no-brainers become academic pursuits and subsequent “certifications”. “Nothing” becomes “something”, like organic food; 100 years ago all food was organic. We are victims of our own “progress” and don’t even realize it. Enter the concept of regulation and certification as surrogate to common sense.

          • Boreas says:

            Certification needn’t be a negative thing – why not turn it into a positive? With a mirror hang-tag, one can get exclusive parking within 1/4 mile of any trailhead – non-certified hikers/bikers must hoof it to the trailhead. If/when parking becomes paid, then offer free parking for cert. holders. Special consideration for campsite permits. A large discount on any rescue/extraction fees imposed by the State could also be a plus. ; )

            • Bob Rainville says:

              I’m not a big fan of exclusivity. I prefer inclusivity. Some pleasures in life need to remain simple. Like I said before, I see both sides of the coin. Even if something is labeled as a “positive”, one needs to continue to monitor if it slides toward the “negative”. From a philosophical point of view, I lean more to the live and let live side of the spectrum. Some folks enjoy complication and some enjoy telling and being told what to do. We have enough of that already. Wilderness has become an amusement park and all that comes with owning and maintaining one.

              • Boreas says:

                It does no good to educate people after the fact. Everybody says ‘most backcountry problems can be avoided by proper education’. When does that happen? How does it happen? Why not make it more desirable and advantageous to have the knowledge first, rather than damaging resources and getting punished and hoping the person learns from his negative experience? Seems ass-backward to me – but I guess.that is the tradition.

                • Bob Rainville says:

                  No, that’s life. After university, we (hopefully) continue to learn. This includes application of the the academic and making mistakes in spite of the academic. Should we strive for a sterile outdoor experience where all contingencies are managed? This is lawyer-think. Helicopter parenting. Medical malpractice. Everything can be prevented. Everything. Nothing “bad” should ever happen if we just educate and prepare and follow the rules. Everyone walk clockwise and check in with the authorities once a month.
                  So that is a bit of hyperbole, but that is my philosophical leaning as it applies in this specific conversation. It’s neither “right” nor “wrong”. I agree training and education should occur. Humans need regulation in a society. I’m just not “in love with” regulation for regulation’s sake.

                  • Boreas says:


                    In this particular instance, I am simply suggesting voluntary certification that would give the holder perks, not mandatory certification that would punish the non-holder. In other words, rewarding people that have taken extra steps to educate themselves to backcountry stewardship. Ignorance isn’t always bliss.

                    • Todd Eastman says:

                      How about issuing certs for those who take a course in walking and texting on sidewalks???

                      Actually a bigger deal and could bring in more $$$ to the state and the contractors that run the courses…

                    • Boreas says:

                      Run with it!

          • Marco says:

            Yes, licensing and permits are not a good thing. Everyone is entitled to use public lands. (Yes, Bob, even bikers.) This is a simple freedom that is often overlooked. Regulation will lead to diminishing this freedom.

            • Paul says:

              Everyone is entitled to use public roads. We just try to make it safe for them and others by making sure they have some baseline knowledge before they hit them.

            • Boreas says:

              How do you figure? If the law excludes bikes from certain areas of the park, then they are only ‘entitled’ to use SOME public lands where they are allowed. Just like only some people are allowed to drive, hunt, fish, etc. in designated areas.

              • Boreas says:

                My statement above should have been addressed to Marco.

                • Marco says:

                  Hmm, this is not really a problem because there is no figuring to it. A blanket restriction against bikes, or, a restriction on people to hike, or to go hunting, or to fish is not good. This is what the government does, settle these disputes, and/or pass laws/generate rules settling the dispute.

                  A blind person shouldn’t drive. I cannot hunt in a town. I cannot fish in a sewer treatment plant. I cannot hike across private property. It is unintelligent to believe I or others should be allowed to do these things. Safety training is necessary where that person can inflict harm on himself or others. Somehow, I don’t see the reason for it with hiking and walking, though it may come to that. Harm to the environment can be considered harm to the people of the state.

                  I would not want to have a licensing process for walking as much as I understand this would be a great relief to know anyone in the back country is trained, at least by receiving a pamphlet. Perhaps any violators should be required to attend a class? Even this gets a little “iffy.”

        • Paul says:

          This escort thing must be new. All the years I have been hiking in the high peaks I have not seen it?

  21. Paul says:

    Those of us hunters have always been allowed to use highly mechanized devices in Wilderness areas. Have you seen today’s high powered rifles and their sophisticated optics. Why is that okay and bikes are too much. Are we playing favorites?

    • Boreas says:

      I think it boils down to which activities have the most potential harm to the resource.

      • Paul says:

        Hikers like myself have basically ruined many parts of the High Peaks Wilderness just hiking on the trails.

        • Boreas says:

          All of us have left an impact. This leaves us with the obligation to figure out how to minimize future damage. Nobody is going to ruin the ADKS in the long term. We gave it our best shot in the 19th century and it is still rebounding – though it may take a few more centuries. The mountains will outlive us all.

    • Boreas says:


      Another thing to consider is that hunters, anglers, and trappers must possess a license to pursue their activities. In order to obtain the license, hunters are required to have safety education courses. Perhaps backcountry users should be required to have a similar license/certification that would require backcountry safety and backcountry ethic education. It won’t happen of course, but it can’t hurt to dream…

      • Todd Eastman says:

        Yea, test for hunters, anglers, and trappers…

        Do you have a pulse?

        Yes = You pass!!!
        No= You do not pass!!!

        • Bob Rainville says:

          Didn’t think your hunter safety course was thorough enough?

        • Boreas says:


          Ask a guide how easy their certification was. IMO, hunter safety certification is primarily designed to keep newbies from shooting themselves or others. Any certification is only as effective as its content and scope.

          • Todd Eastman says:

            I live on constant fear of being attacked by people with hiking boots!

            • Boreas says:


              That can happen if one has a lot of enemies. Why not make friends instead? Then you can sleep with your light out and eyes closed.

          • M.P. Heller says:

            I have a 5 catagory guide license and bow, trapping, and hunting licences. (It’s actually a Conservation Legacy license but you need those certs to get it) It means I have sat for 8 “exams”. Are they difficult? No. Do they help educate you and open your eyes to the issues these activities are facing? Definitely. It’s not always about having something be academic. Things can be informational and still serve a positive purpose. Such as helping to establish a baseline knowledge amongst the participants of an activity.

            Nobody became proficient at anything without having been a novice first. It’s easy to be experienced at something and look down your nose and call something stupid. On the other hand, if you are the newbie, you might be grateful for the basic knowledge a 12 hour course can provide. It might even save you from making the stupid mistakes the more experienced has to learn from on their own.

            • Boreas says:

              Good points. Some people used to read books and prepare prior to starting new activities. That doesn’t happen much in this instant-gratification society.

            • Todd Eastman says:

              Question #1 – Do you walk by putting one foot in front of the other, or by waving your arms vigorously?

              Question #2 – When walking in the woods you should look at the trail in front of you, or up at the tree branches?

              Question #3 – A backpack is worn on: a) your head, b) your feet, c) your back

              • M.P. Heller says:

                You can make all the snide and unproductive comments you like Todd. If you want to be a part of the problem and not a part of the solution that is completely up to you. You totally have the right to choose to act like a nincompoop.

                I’m not sure the reputation at Momentum NW is greatly improved by your childish rantings.

                • Paul M says:

                  Mr. Heller. It would be a great step forward for this website if you would practice what you admonish Mr. Eastman for. In post after post on this site, and others too, you call people names, viciously attack, and rant and rave. In this article you have been well behaved, but then here you go again with your trademark snark.

                  • Boreas says:

                    Paul M.

                    In this instance, I feel Mr. Heller had a valid point.

                    • M.P. Heller says:

                      Paul, thank you for taking the time to read what I write both here and elsewhere. I make no apoligies for my “trademark” style. One of the hallmarks of effective writing is reader recognition. I appreciate that you have that recognition. I don’t expect you or anyone else to agree with everything I say, but it is gratifying to know that at least one person is paying attention, even if I do “misbehave”.

                      Enjoy the nice weather.

                    • Todd Eastman says:

                      M.P. I don’t have the time or inclination to read what you post or write elsewhere. You observations are your observations and when posted, are subject to review and criticism. I am not dealing with your personally acclaimed writing skills, but rather the silly manner in which you choose to make statements and declarations about a process which is undefined and speculative currently.

                      Yes, you have declared that since you are an ADK guide with certs that you have gained through rigorous examinations, your experience gained through that process entitles you to speak to all things cert based.

                      I respect your choices in life regarding those onerous certs, but suggest that perhaps such certs carried forward under a hiker test, may impede the legally intended reasonable access that NYS residents and money-paying visitors should be expected to deal with, you may be way off base.

                      Such a proposition whether from you or the other serious cert folks out there should be durable enough to take good-natured-ribbing or a serious dose of sarcasm.

                      I rather welcome the title of “nincompoop” and will wear it as a badge of honor due the source…

                      … lighten up dude!

                    • Paul M says:

                      Mr. Eastman,

                      I wouldn’t trouble much over Michael Heller’s rantings and ravings. He seeks attention and this, apparently, is the only way he can get it. Now that his snowmobiler bar has closed, as he ran it into the ground in record time, he has little to do other than troll Adirondack websites and artlessly spew bile.

  22. ADKbham says:

    Unfortunately the world isn’t just black and white, but multiple shades of grey. Categorizing bicycles the same as motorized vehicles isn’t a fair comparison. The ADK needs as much broad support as possible to support this precious ecosystem.

    • Bruce says:


      Mr. Bauer is right when he says the system works. The issue arises when the system works in a way he doesn’t approve of.

  23. Bob Rainville says:

    /Users/bikepacker/Desktop/Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 06.12.14.jpg

    • Bob Rainville says:

      Sorry, tried to post a screenshot from a study. Didn’t work.

      • Bruce says:


        What did the screenshot illustrate? Copy and paste the link in the www search bar at the top of the page where that illustration is found.

        • Bob Rainville says:


          Good study review in general. Go to page 31. It speaks to false perceptions of users’ impact and how they will negatively view other user groups. Also speaks to convenient ignorance of one’s own impact. Something I’ve seen regularly in the anti-bike crowd.

          • Boreas says:

            Good article The take-away I got was that virtually all users were guilty of this ‘convenient ignorance’. I didn’t get the message that bike riders were viewed any more negatively than any other, but rather all groups are guilty of damage, and these groups almost universally intellectually ‘minimized’ their own impact.

            But one thing to keep in mind was that many of these disparate studies were not aimed at specific ecologically sensitive areas, but rather to recreation areas in general. There are many sensitive areas within the ADKs that may require a higher level of caution than other areas based on soil, water, and plant and wildlife sensitivity. Good examples would be caves, bogs, and alpine summits.

            So the purpose of this article was to start a discussion about how we restrict or not restrict different types of ADK lands. Despite being ‘public’ lands, common sense and science should dictate how we guide our regulations, not strict Libertarian and “This land is MY land’ rhetoric. So the question is, will we think before we act, or do we act first, then evaluate the repercussions? This isn’t only our land to enjoy, it is also our land to conserve and protect.

            • Bob Rainville says:

              Never have I nor will I assert or imply that cyclists are exempt from this phenomenon. Human nature is human nature regardless of tribe affiliation. I would call a “mountain biker” out if he/she leveled BS generalizations or fallacies as quickly as any other user.
              I realize and agree with your second point/paragraph.
              I am well aware of the original point of the article and do not feel that I’m off-topic (perhaps you are not implying this). And I do not subscribe to a “Libertarian” (whatever that may mean) mindset as this topic is concerned. Good decisions can not be made with bad information, no matter how frequently the bad information is repeated.
              I do not think education or regulation is inherently bad.
              I do not think mountain bikes cause zero damage or do not lend to potential conflict.
              I think people need to think and stop assuming.
              I’m done here.
              Be good.

              • Boreas says:


                I hadn’t really intended to direct my last post toward you, other than acknowledging the article you mentioned. In my last paragraph I was addressing this entire discussion as a whole, so don’t feel I was criticizing you personally. If I came across that way, I apologize.

                Have a nice spring!

  24. Bruce says:

    What constitutes ecologically sensitive use and what’s doesn’t? In this instance, we’re talking about the reasonable use of relatively hard, well built and existing roads, not dirt trails.

    To assume that because bicycles are mechanical devices, albeit human powered, there will automatically be significant damage by their use. Even canoeists who carry in can cause damage by use of the same put in, the same as mountain bikers who use the same trails over and over. I’ve seen some of the ugly, muddy bare dirt put ins and carry points in Wilderness areas. Restricting bicycles to the aforementioned roads is no different than restricting hikers and canoeists to specific places.

  25. Todd Eastman says:

    “relatively hard, well built and existing roads”

    Roads interrupt hydrology and cause far larger impacts to habitat than do trails.

  26. Bruce says:


    I agree on hydrological principles, keeping in mind foot trails can and do become unnatural erosion channels. The roads in question have been in existence for any number of years, having whatever negative affect they’re going to have. In other words, the negative affect on hydrology is already there and allowing cruising style bicycle riding won’t change that, a fact which is not lost on the APA which recognizes the roads in question may actually be very suitable for another form of recreation beyond foot traffic.

    However this shakes out, I haven’t heard anything about taking these roads out to restore the native topography and hydrology, not even from Mr. Bauer.

  27. Marco says:

    Bruce, I agree 100%. Roads are a good place for other recreations, such as biking, through out the ADKs. Many of the roads have been in existence and used for many years as either lumber roads, transportation roads, or simply expanded trails. They are generally not seen to disrupt the general recovery of the ADK’s. The fact that many effect the hydrology, forming dams or channeling water through culverts, seems to be fairly unimportant except in the immediate vicinity of the old roads. The over-trapping of beaver with the resultant loss of thousands of beaver dams and ponds effected the hydrology more in the 1800’s. Logging roads were often “iced” for use over natural turf, often any such roads were not graded/rolled/oiled for public use and have simply reverted to forest in the past hundred years. These areas are still recovering from the logging that went on, but the old ice roads themselves are indistinguishable from the surrounding terrain, these days. (except where some chain, or other logging equipment has been left seemingly in very odd places.)

    I believe according to the last study I saw, most places in the ADK’s were only 5-6 miles from a usable road, anyway. The alternative use of the old logging roads needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis.

    This is working in the ADK’s. I used to be able to drive to places I simply cannot get my car into, today. Many are simply gated off and allowed to revert to the wilds.This restriction on cars, forcing me to hike, is GOOD (despite what my wife thinks.)

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