Monday, August 27, 2018

Tony Goodwin: Peaks Don’t Need Permits

hiker on Giant MountainThe July/August issue of the Explorer carried an impassioned call from Chris Amato for the Department of Environmental Conservation to implement a permit system for the High Peaks Wilderness Area.

Amato’s rationale was that the High Peaks no longer meet the definition of a “wilderness area” contained in the Adirondack State Land Master Plan (ASLMP). The ASLMP definition includes the phrases “untrammeled by man” and “outstanding opportunities for solitude.”

Certainly no one, least of all me, will argue that there isn’t significant evidence of human “trammeling” on most routes leading to the 4,000-foot peaks; and on many days “solitude” is in short supply on these same routes. However, one must realize that all of the evidence of human activity is confined to the trail corridors and campsites adjacent to those corridors. Using the statistics for trail miles and campsites as inventoried in the High Peaks Wilderness Area Unit Management Plan, one can calculate that only about one-tenth of 1 percent of the total area of the High Peaks Wilderness is actually impacted by humans. That calculation assumes that each mile of trail is 10 feet wide and that each campsite impacts one-eighth of an acre; but in reality most trails are narrower and most campsites are smaller. So, while what one sees when on a hike to a popular summit might indicate that the whole area has been negatively impacted, the reality is that most — that is, 99.9 percent — of the area remains undisturbed and virtually unvisited.

Amato’s concern for the “overuse” of the High Peaks is hardly new. In what I call the “back-to-the-land” surge of use in the early ‘70s there was a sudden increase in the number of rescues, and there was certainly more evidence of use on the land. Typical of the concern expressed at the time was a June 1974 column in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise by Paul Kelsey — identified as “regional conservation educator.” To encourage use elsewhere, Kelsey wrote, “hikers outside the high peaks are less apt to be swept up in a traffic jam.”

Fast forward twenty-six years to the December 2000 issue of the Explorer and I wrote the “No” side of an “It’s Debatable” column when the question was, “Should we limit hikers in the High Peaks?” Year 2000 was at the end of what I call the “time-for-some-healthy-exercise” surge in the High Peaks in particular. The “Yes” side was presented by John Sheehan, communications director for the Adirondack Council. Sheehan wanted a permit system to divert use away from the High Peaks. I believe he exaggerated the damage being done by some “knuckleheads” and then proposed to “encourage them to go to Pepperbox, West Canada Lakes or the Five Ponds wilderness areas, where they can wander for weeks without bothering anyone.” Great, send the “knuckleheads” to trash those areas when it would be much easier to control such behavior in a more concentrated area.

My counter at the time was to note that the net effect of limiting use on one trail would be to increase use on other trails. I finished by noting that the previous October weekend I had driven past a crowded Cascade Mountain trailhead and hiked twelve miles, visited two attractive summits, and not seen a single other person. I enjoyed my day and presume those who hiked Cascade also enjoyed their day in the mountains without any “outstanding opportunity for solitude.” I concluded by saying that I preferred to preserve the choice of hiking experience.

Now we are in the midst of what I call the “social media” surge in hiking use. There is no question that there are more people than ever on the trails and summits and that many of them need to be educated or in some cases outright constrained. I still maintain, however, that such education and control are far easier to implement when the vast majority of the “newbies” are in a few predictable locations — not deliberately spread out.

Furthermore, as a practical matter, what areas would be subject to a limiting permit system? Limit it to just the High Peaks, Dix (now part of the High Peaks), and Giant wilderness areas, and then Hurricane, Jay and Whiteface end up absorbing the redirected use. Add in those areas (good luck with enforcement) and McKenzie Mountain becomes the alternative, and so on.

Meanwhile, there are still many parts of the High Peaks Wilderness Area (not to mention most of the nineteen other designated wilderness areas) where one can find solitude even on a busy weekend. Most recently, I hiked seventeen miles across a part of the High Peaks and never saw another soul. Furthermore, the whole way I was on soft, uneroded trails.

There is, thus, still that choice, and I don’t believe we yet need to institute an elaborate permit system that would “guarantee” what kind of experience one has when hiking in Adirondacks.

A version of this story first appeared in Adirondack Explorer.

Photo of Hiker on Giant Mountain provided.

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Tony Goodwin

Tony Goodwin has a long career in the Adirondacks, starting with an ascent of Cascade in 1955 and becoming 46-R #211 in 1961. Tony received a B.A. in History from Williams College and an M.A. in History from SUNY Plattsburgh. He has written and edited numerous Adirondack guidebooks, including Ski and Snowshoe Trail in the Adirondacks and four editions of the Adirondack Mountain Club’s guides to the High Peaks Region. In 1986 he helped to found the Adirondack Ski Touring Council which has constructed and maintained the Jackrabbit Ski Trail and assumed maintenance of several other ski trails including the Wright Peak Ski Trail. Since 1986 he has also served as executive director of the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society based in Keene Valley. His other Adirondack experience includes Johns Brook Lodge hut crew 1996-68, Adirondack Mountain Club Ridge Runner in 1974 and chief of the first Adirondack Mountain Club professional trail crew in 1979. Tony also served as venue manager for cross-country and biathlon for the 1980 Winter Olympics and managed Mount Van Hoevenberg X-C Ski Area from 1981 to 1985. Tony and his wife Bunny live in Keene. Their three grown children have taken their Adirondack skiing and hiking skills to northern Norway, Truckee, California, and Vermont.




58 Responses

  1. James Bullard says:

    While I don’t like the idea of limiting access to the High Peaks I do think it would be useful to require an annual ‘hiking license’ for high use areas. require knowledge of LNT and a modest fee ($15-20) which could be applied to mitigating the impact on those areas. Those who hunt and fish get licenses to support the resources they use, why not hikers?

  2. Todd Eastman says:

    Fine comment Tony!

    The costs of implementing and enforcing a permit system would outweigh any potential benefits.

  3. Tim says:

    Finally, a reasonable response.
    A friend was upset with me for inspiring the DEC to construct a new trail, albeit very slowly, where he used to bushwhack. I said, all you have to do is walk 100’ to the side.

  4. Don Pachner says:

    Tony, I think you need to look more carefully at how you define impacts. While the actual surface area of trails and campsites is a small percentage of the overall wild open space of wilderness areas, their impacts cannot be measured by surface area alone. Many computer models have resulted from studies conducted of the loss of buffers, impacts of campground use and trampling of vegetation, introduction of invasive species, changer in water temperature in streams and backcountry ponds, etc. These show an impact on wilderness that is not measured in a simple ratio of used surface area to unused surface area when the overall ecology of the wilderness area is studied. This ratio seems to be the crux of your argument that the trails and camp sites are not proportionally suffering from overuse. Human impacts to the ecosystem do not necessarily require the extent of Cascade’s trails overuse, and I think the important question is how to address those regions of overuse.

  5. Zephyr says:

    I am highly skeptical that a limited High Peaks license fee would generate enough revenue to offset the costs of enforcement, and it would be a tempting pot of money when the next budget crunch comes and politicians look to avoid increasing taxes. As has been stated on here numerous times the entire concept is fraught with difficulties. How many rangers would it take to police licenses, and would that mean they are not available for other conservation work? What is the cost of printing the licenses, distributing them, collecting the money, etc.? And, the concept of a uniformed ranger on the trail saying “show me your papers” would ruin the wilderness experience for many. As Tony put so well, is that those of us who hike a lot know that on any given day we can quickly leave the crowds behind in almost any part of the Adirondacks, and have a wonderful day by just using a bit of forethought. Would a modest license fee actually limit use on the busiest trails? I doubt it. We’ll soon be debating raising the fee to some onerous level in order to limit use. Will hiking the Adirondacks be only for the well off?

    • James Bullard says:

      Well, It seems to work okay for hunting licenses at $22 for residents, $5 if you are over age 70 ($100 for out of staters). The licenses are distributed through a lot of local retailers The local store 3 miles down the road from me sells hunting & fishing licenses. They could sell them through outfitters as well. And if having to show that you respect and contributed to protecting our wild spaces by having a hiking license ruins your wilderness experience, I’m not quite sure how to respond to that.

      • Zephyr says:

        I don’t need to pay a fee and purchase a license to show respect for the wild spaces I visit. I let my actions do that. Drivers licenses don’t seem to guarantee respect for personal safety or others on the road. The number of hunters is dwindling and I wouldn’t hold up that license fee structure as a win. How many out of state hikers would be willing to pay $100 to climb Marcy? Plus there is a cost for enforcement, and I see no willpower by the state to pay for an adequate number of rangers to do their current work. I suppose the fees and fines will pay for a few more rangers to check for licenses, but will that really improve anything?

      • Boreas says:

        James,

        As you know, I agree with you. The alleged increased costs to “enforce” these licenses is simply a false argument. There is no need for any additional agents to patrol – they already exist. If the state would insist on 100% compliance, then yes, more staff would be needed. But DEC personnel do not expect 100% compliance – even with fishing and hunting – but traditionally, they get pretty close to 100% compliance by simply checking licenses randomly on their regular patrols. Is it worth the chance to get a summons when it is easy to simply obtain a license?

        If properly implemented, I would expect licensing to improving Rangers lives by ensuring more prepared people enter the backcountry, in contrast to what we see today.

  6. Susan W says:

    Let’s face it: no real effort is being made to educate the “knuckleheads” now. Where are the latrines at the trailheads, like out west? To save our Adirondacks, it seems to me we need 1. latrines! 2. trash containers 3. info posters 4. encouragement to use less-popular trails. What do YOU think?

    • Let me clarify two things: (1) The state has installed portable toilets at several trailheads: they’ve been there since last year. As well, there have been some crude latrines (i.e., “thunderboxes” placed at critical junctures on the trails. (2) Education for all, not just “knuckleheads”, has been occurring at Adirondak Loj, as well as at the Cascade trailhead (the latter by the 46ers, now in its second year). 46R#3310

    • John Sasso John S says:

      Actually, there has been an effort at education but it has been more on a volunteer basis, or one with limited funding & manpower. There are the summit steward and trailhead steward (currently at the Cascade trailhead) programs. The latter is in its second year and has been quite successful in terms of educating hikers new to the High Peaks, which in turn has reduced the trash on the Cascade trail considerably. The program needs to be expanded to other popular trailheads. It also does, indeed, recommend other less-popular trails to people. In regards to latrines, drive by the popular trailheads in the High Peaks and you will see latrines. Also, more privys and thunderboxes have been put in place should people need to go while hiking.

    • Margaret Murphy Margaret Murphy says:

      Susan there are efforts being made to educate hikers and many of the most used trailheads now have porta jons. The Adirondack 46ers have implemented a trail steward program (in partnership with NYSDEC and the Adirondack Mountain Club) at Cascade Mountain (started in 2017) with stewards on hand at the trailhead every weekend and holiday – Memorial Day to Columbus Day to educate and inform hikers. They also offer alternative hikes for those that decide to turn around and try something easier. This is a start and more can be done and hopefully will be in the future.

    • Kathy says:

      Carry in and carry out your personal trash …
      Dig cat holes and cover poop off trail..
      If you don’t like crowds hike elsewhere if not mid week.
      And I agree many of the issues are potentially avoided by more individual care and concern and common sense for the area rather than more accommodations for hikers.

  7. Justin Farrell says:

    No mention of the numerous rescues for unprepared hikers in the weekly Ranger reports. When is it enough already, and when do we realize that social media is pretty good at spreading hiking ideas, but not doing so well at spreading education on being responsible hikers. When should more changes be made, and how? Or do we just keep on keepin’ on with the same ol’ same ol?

    • Zephyr says:

      I read those reports every week and there are lots of rescues and accidents with unprepared and irresponsible hunters and fishermen too, despite the fact they purchase a license and agree to abide by rules. Purchasing a license has nothing to do with knowing what you are doing, unless you have to take some classes, take a test, renew every year or two, etc. Even then, look at all the horrible drivers on the roads who get into terrible accidents every day–licenses don’t seem to stop them from killing themselves and others. There are far fewer backcountry accidents than there are car accidents by people driving to the backcountry. Why not just outlaw leaving home and be done with it!

      • Justin Farrell says:

        So I guess doing nothing is your answer?
        Personally, I wouldn’t be against some sort of a hiking/camping permit for high-use areas, where many of these unprepared rescues seem to happen every week. Even something similar to a ‘Hike Safe’ card like New Hampshire has might help produce positive results here in the Adirondacks as well, who knows. I’m fine with visiting less popular areas also, it’s the ongoing issues in the high-use areas that I feel could use some better management.

        • Boreas says:

          Justin,

          Yes, do nothing is always the simplest approach to people who don’t really want change. Go elsewhere. Sure – like VT, NY, ME, PA, etc.. Why spend my money here? You can’t throw a rock without hitting a Ranger in a NP. Yet the backcountry trails I have used in many of these parks do not have nearly the concentration of hikers the Peaks of the HPW have – because many of these require day or camping permits. The quality of the hiking experience in many National Parks is often much more rewarding than our summit races to find an unoccupied rock to sit on.

        • Zephyr says:

          I advocate doing something that will address the actual problems, which licenses will not. Limit parking, and possibly charge for parking at the most popular trailheads. Let the towns enforce the parking rules and collect the fines and it will not require new infrastructure and won’t divert limited DEC resources. The towns will welcome the revenue. Reinforce the ongoing efforts by the state and other organizations to educate and inform hikers. Continue to harden the most used trails.

          • Boreas says:

            Parking is limited now. Limit it more and enforcement costs go up while pissing off people who may have driven a long way to hike a particular trail and find no legal spot to park. Two of the most popular already trailheads charge for parking – one has had seasonal shuttle service to the Garden for years. The towns may welcome the revenue, but will they welcome the associated responsibility, court costs, and additional manpower for increased enforcement of limited parking? They likely will have no choice.

            “Reinforce the ongoing efforts by the state and other organizations to educate and inform hikers.” So how about a license to help pay for those efforts? Relying on volunteers is great, as long as we have volunteers and large donations from organizations – but that is not a given. If you want to expand to many more trailheads, many more volunteers will be needed. Licensing can provide the same level of education without the need for additional trailhead volunteers. Then have more volunteers patrolling instead of handing out pamphlets and information at the trailhead.

            As I see it, you and Tony are basically advocating maintaining or emphasizing the status quo, which isn’t working.

            • Zephyr says:

              You don’t think people will be “pissed off” when they drive a long way only to discover they need a license to hike and it is unobtainable at their chosen trailhead or on a Sunday? How about the thousands of Canadians who arrive in the High Peaks every weekend in the summer, or the family from downstate that makes one annual trip to the High Peaks? If necessary, sell parking passes at every Stewarts and shop in the region, and only those with passes can park in certain designated lots. Residents of the park get parking passes at a discount. Much easier and cheaper to institute, and much more effective than a license system.

              • Boreas says:

                With a modicum of online research and word of mouth, the licensing will be standard knowledge, just like existing licenses. Will there be growing pains? Yes. Will we be seeking mandatory life sentences or execution as licenses are implemented? No.

                I agree somewhat with parking passes. My thought is your license (which would include a parking sticker or placard) would be your parking pass – one of the benefits of getting a license. But that still doesn’t guarantee parking for everyone. No easy fix for that.

                I realize the term “license” strikes fear into many as an onerous, Draconian concept aimed at destroying civil liberties and constitutional freedoms in general. That certainly doesn’t have to be the case – and shouldn’t be in this situation. In my view, if properly instituted and gradually implemented, licenses would be marketed as a positive INCENTIVE, not as a negative hassle. If properly implemented, people will line up to get licenses for parking benefits/discounts, State campground/day use discounts, campsite reservation preference, etc., etc.. It would simply serve as one tool to help get a handle on a situation spinning out of control in places.

                • Zephyr says:

                  Current sporting licenses are only sold at authorized NYS Licensing Agents or online. There are no commercial businesses selling them in Lake Placid, Keene, or Elizabethtown according to the DEC website. You can only get one at a town office, and the Lake Placid office is only open Monday-Friday. Someone wanting to hike Marcy who arrives without a license will be out of luck if it is a weekend. http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/95700.html#Essex

                  There’s a lot more to issuing and enforcing licenses than some here are willing to admit, and don’t forget the costs.

                  • James Bullard says:

                    There is a general store just down the road from me (I live near Colton) that sells fishing licenses. There is a prominent sign in the window advertising the fact that you can get a license there. I have seen similar signs in other places that are open on weekends. If the state were to institute a license for hiking in the High Peaks, the state could also make the license/permit available in whatever matter that it chose.

  8. drdirt says:

    Thank you Tim, for stating an obvious fact that is always overlooked concerning ‘overcrowding’ of the wilderness. 99% of the high peaks region is never visited!!! The Cascade trail is just a tiny part of the whole mountain .,.,., yes. I prefer to view the amazing scenery atop Ampersand in solitude .,.,., so I make the trip on a weekday .,.,,. on the other hand, we all know plenty of people who enjoy the hike as a social event; meeting fellow explorers on the trail and on the peak is their favorite part!!!

    The ADK Almanac and ADK Explorer are venues to promote the exploration and enjoyment of our wonderful Park. Writing about licences, permits and fees to walk in the woods seems inapproppriate here.

  9. Curt Austin says:

    I’m with Tony. You can’t let the very visible Cascade situation guide your thinking. Let the teeming masses have it. Do not direct them elsewhere. Those seeking greater solitude can easily find it.

    Anyway, you can’t go wrong following Tony’s advice about the High Peaks.

    • Nature Boy says:

      Exactly. I HATE the UMP for Cascade. It is a wonderful mountain. Let it be what it is: A popular peak with a nice view… The re-route will only encourage people to trample Giant – a true alpine summit.

  10. Edward Zahniser Ed Zahniser says:

    The National Park Service and US Forest Service instituted backcountry permit systems to avoid overuse of popular backcountry areas beginning in the 1970s, and the public was understanding and accepting of permits, realizing their purpose.

    I think it is wishful thinking to suppose that the High Peaks– and particularly the highest peak–will not continue to be trampled sorely, if no permit system comes into play to provide workable numbers of recreationists.

    “Untrammeled” is a different word — and by no means a synonym for “untrampled”.

  11. Thomas Kligerman says:

    Tony is right on with his comments. It (the High Peaks) sure as hell is a wilderness. I was on Cliff 2 weeks ago and there were 27 (yup, on Cliff) other folks that I counted JUST in the 90 minutes it took to get up and down the summit dome. But you know, 10 hours after we all left, at say 11 pm, it was real quiet again, with nothing but the bears, pine martens, deer mice and oh yeah, that wooden sign on top that says “Summit of Cliff Mtn”. And if one of those folks had a severe medical emergency, then the difficulty of the rescue in getting them out of that spot would make its wilderness status pretty apparent. There are natural areas within 30 minutes of Albany that get so few visitors that they would be wilderness areas if that was the only measure. Some bullets:
    1. The Adirondack Park was so named in 1892 for the “free use of all the people for their health and pleasure.” While charging some fee might not technically be found to violate the legality of this, it would certainly violate the spirit, not to mention be regressive as hell, for those who can’t afford paying to hike.
    2. One of the great things about the Adirondack Park is that the management of it is not “in your face”. When I occasionally head to the White Mountain National Park, it’s hard not to notice the plethora of signs telling the visitor about this view or that waterfall or information markers and visitor stops, more than needed in my opinion for adequate management. In the Adks, let’s keep it subtle as much as feasible.
    3. People who have been advocating more state land in the Adks (as I have) often point out to the tourism dollars that visitors bring. Those additional 25,000 high peaks hikers per year must be spending a few local dollars I imagine. A good thing.
    4. Yes – more latrines (I just saw the one on Allen, yup Allen, last month) and more funding for summit stewards and trail maintenance. But no permits please.
    5. and now, the real kicker: (Most) People like to see or be with other people in places that they are a little nervous about being in, like the Great North woods. People who like solitude have a lot of choices for solitude, in large part because of the previous sentence. Cascade and Giant will always be the most popular because many people will only ever hike those 2 peaks and they want to do that with their friends and/or family. Multiply this out and you get 300 people/day on Cascade and 1 in the Pepperbox. No permits, more latrines, more education and as needed, enforcement of the major rules.

  12. Tony Goodwin says:

    I have commented before on the subject of hiking licenses and said that the problem is how to define the threshold at which such a license would be required. Would it be anyone on a DEC-maintained trail, even if that trail is on private land. How about a trail maintained by volunteers such as Baxter Mt. It’s on private land to the first ledge, but then on state land to the summit. Need a license only if you want to summit? How about bushwhacking on state land, need a license for that?

    Furthermore, so much trail maintenance is now done by volunteers or professional crews paid by voluntary donations, that paying for a “license to hike” would seem somewhat unfair.

    What is easy to define is camping on state land. And campsites are usually maintained on a regular basis by paid DEC personnel. Sure, Lean-2 Rescue has done some amazing work that the DEC could never have afforded to do, but once the lean-to has been built/rehabbed, it is the DEC that does the ongoing, day to day maintenance. For this, I don’t think it would be hard to justify a fee and therefore get reasonable compliance.

    • Thomas Kligerman says:

      Tony –

      Agree – wasnt there a few years in the late 80’s that a permit system for CAMPING at Marcy Dam and Lake Colden was used? This was BEFORE the large reduction in campsites at the Dam and Colden and BEFORE the no fires and other restrictions in the eastern High Peaks.
      On the other hot topic, higher numbers of visitors = higher numbers of rescues, what’s your opinion on charging for rescues? Think it will ever be feasible, politically or administratively?

      Tom

    • Boreas says:

      Tony,

      Initially I would be inclined to offer something similar to what Mick Finn suggests below – simple, but broad-based. Then add additional “tags” (similar to certain tags for certain “specialty” game such as big game, doe, etc.) for certain advanced activities such as winter hiking/skiing/snowshoeing, 3-season camping, or High Peaks hiking. Or simply different levels of license that allow for more activities, with one license that may cover ALL backcountry activities on land and water. It would likely be an evolving system based on success and failure of certain aspects of implementation, as well as shifting backcountry use/overuse trail conditions, water protection, and wildlife/resource conservation.

      There are a hundred different ways to implement a license – from minimal requirements/cost to something approaching a guide license – and everything in-between. But simply because it is a foreign concept to hiking/paddling shouldn’t make it taboo. It would simply be one part of a comprehensive solution to a problem with many facets – just as hunting/fishing/trapping licenses are just one part of a comprehensive and flexible game/fish/wildlife management strategy that has worked well for many decades across the country.

    • James Bullard says:

      Why is public vs private land a problem? Can you hunt or fish on private land without a license? Do the “take” rules and seasons only apply on state land? This seems like a red herring to me.

  13. Mick Finn says:

    I think a general outdoor recreational license is a great idea! Hiking, camping, boating, fishing, mountain biking, trapping, etc. could all be rolled into one license and would provide funding for all kinds of maintenance and repairs for better and safer access.

    • John Sasso John Sasso says:

      Absolutely incredible! A general outdoor recreation license? The Beatles “The Tax Man” is now playing in my mind.

  14. John Marona says:

    No fees or permits are exactly why I prefer the Adirondacks. All of my trips are mid-week and usually spring fall, and my high peaks trips are usually in winter, No bugs and I hope one or two people have gone before me to break trail, not always the case mid week. I just don’t see the crowding.. That said, if crowding is to be controlled on busy weekends one option on popular mountains are one way trails, one trail up and another down . You would cross paths with far fewer people that way, of course the summit would still be as crowded, but the rest of the hike would be more pleasant, and foot traffic on the trail would be cut by 50%.

  15. Neil Luckhurst Neil says:

    I agree that hiker impact cannot be accurately determined simply by the percentage of land occupied by trails and campsites alone. However, being a frequent (roughly weekly) bushwhacker I agree that basing any assessment of human impact on what one sees on Cascade or Marcy on a sunny July Saturday is considerably more inaccurate to the point of being laughable.

    • John Sasso John Sasso says:

      Agreed. Certainly on the trails there has been an issue with trash, but those can be lessened through education as I noted before. A permit system will do zilch to educate people.

      • Boreas says:

        “A permit system will do zilch to educate people.”

        Simple permits probably wouldn’t, but licenses would require education. The amount and type of education would vary based on the license desired, just as with other licenses. The fact is, maintaining the status quo brought us to this point.

  16. bleeds green says:

    Permits didn’t work before (trip tickets, a total nightmare for Rangers), why now? Rangers have been pushed to the breaking point with rescues, searches, and fires, enforcement and education have become secondary duties due to the workload. If licenses and fees were imposed who’d enforce it? Where would the extra time to enforce parking, license checks, and fee collection come from? On most weekends and even weekdays during peak (and even so-called “off-season”) Rangers have to be prepared for the far too frequent call for help.
    Try adding more Rangers to the Adirondacks and Catskills. Staff at DEC constantly called the Rangers the eyes and ears of the Department, the surge in use isn’t a surprise to them and maybe ask them for some workable solutions.

  17. Joseph Rector says:

    Well said, Tony! The Adirondacks, on a whole, are Wilderness. Only small threads of trials cut through this vast woodland paradise. We traveling humans, as you mentioned, impact just a tiny fraction of the Park. Thankfully education is on the increase to to deter what I call Mountain Ignorance. I hike twice a week, year-round, and I am not bashful when I see ignorance. I speak my mind on the trail as all seasoned, long time hikers should.

  18. Zephyr says:

    Anyone else feel there is a concerted effort by several different organizations, individuals, and people in the media to push the idea of licenses/permits lately? There seems to be a lot of talk about how great it would be to raise revenue from hikers to pay for mitigation of impacts, instead of discussion around what would be the most effective methods to limit the impacts in the first place. Why not address the real problems by limiting impacts instead of figuring out how to fund expensive remediation for continued overuse?

    • Boreas says:

      Why not do both? If we only limit parking as you suggest, it may cut down on the total number of hikers, but it does nothing to eliminate or educate newbies before they take off into the unknown. Read the reports – Rangers spend too much of their limited resources helping out people who are unprepared. Who knows – this silly education thing might even save a life or two!

    • Boreas says:

      “Anyone else feel there is a concerted effort by several different organizations, individuals, and people in the media to push the idea of licenses/permits lately?”

      Yes – glad you noticed! It is all part of an evil conspiracy to address the situation at hand – particularly in the HPW.

  19. James Bullard says:

    As one of the individuals suggesting annual hiking licenses connected with LNT training, I would point out that limiting the damage in the first place was part of my motivation. The need to have a hiking license and a gateway of LNT training to get that license would hopefully go along way toward reducing damage. The fees would cover the cost of the licensing and training program and excess could be applied to mitigation. The focus of my suggestion was limiting damage, not mitigation. The mitigation part was an acknowledgment that we will reach a point of no damage.

    As for why don’t we discuss limiting damage first, I first made my suggestion 25 years ago as a newbie lean-to adopter. It was dismissed then on virtually the same grounds you do above. Twenty-five years ago.

  20. adkDreamer says:

    Permits, licenses, passes & fees have never been proven to change an individuals skills and ability, morality or choices. All they do is present yet another barrier to access. I get a fishing license every year and it requires no education about conservation nor does it aid me in becoming a better fisherman. I buy camping permits to State Campgrounds, yet the sites are loaded with trash, fire pits are crumbling and no, they don’t make anyone a better camper. Place enough barriers to access in place and the result will eventually become people choosing not to visit/spend money in the Adirondacks. The only sure fire way to reduce traffic in one popular location is to offer a competitive alternative – something else that becomes more or equally popular.

  21. James Bullard says:

    adkDreamer, I note the following from one of NYS’s site “Upon purchase of a fishing license, you will be given a booklet entitled “New York Freshwater Fishing Regulations”. You are responsible for knowing the regulations in this booklet before you go fishing.” Did you read it or just toss it and ignore it? The education part is to make you aware of do’s and don’t’s that are designed to preserve the resource. Whether that aids you in becoming a better fisherman or not depends on what you mean by ‘better fisherman’. No, it won’t help you catch more fish but it should make you more considerate of the resource. I count that as ‘better’.

    • adkDreamer says:

      @James Bullard. I have been purchasing NYS Fishing Licenses for decades and have never received the booklet that you reference. Besides your cherry picking attempt, presenting someone a booklet cannot ever compel the person to read and understand its contents. Every 5 or 10 years I renew my drivers’ license. There is an eye test, but nothing more is provided to compel me to become a better driver. I renew my auto registration every two years, and unfortunately my vehicles are not compelled to perform better either. James, the next time the missionaries drop off a pamphlet at your door, please tell me that you have become magically enlightened.

      • Boreas says:

        adkDreamer,

        These booklets for hunting, fishing, trapping have ALWAYS been available because you are REQUIRED to know the regulations for each of the licenses, and any annual updates or changes. Likewise, you are also REQUIRED to know motor vehicle laws and regulations, and keep updated on any changes to the motor vehicle law. For hunting and fishing, I used to get one with every license I bought. Season changes, bag limits, creel limits size limits are all subject to change. Now perhaps the booklets may have moved online (as with the licenses), but the knowledge of these regulations is still required. Whether you pick one up at the store or online, it doesn’t remove your obligation to know the contents.

        Now granted, the booklets and licenses don’t make you a better hunter or driver, but they inform you of the basic regulations in each activity – many of them safety-oriented. Ignorance of the law(s) are no excuse if you get caught not following the regulations.

        • adkDreamer says:

          @Boreas. Please show me the proof that states I am REQUIRED to know any regulation. I believe what you intend to state is that a person MAY be governed, MAY be arrested, MAY be incarcerated or fined if caught in violation of a so called regulation, however please don’t attempt to school me on the process. There is absolutely no regulation that compels anyone to be REQUIRED to know it – on an ongoing basis – whatsoever. Again, a license, booklet or pamphlet, fee, permit or pass compels nothing in it of itself. Try as they might, the powers that be cannot, have never, and never will have the ability to compel morality.

  22. James Bullard says:

    If the agent did not give you the booklet, that is unfortunate because that subverts part of the purpose of the licensing procedure which is to educate the licensee of the rules, regulations, season, etc. Have you troubled yourself to look those things up? And the money you paid for the license supports fish hatcheries that stock lakes and streams so that there are fish for you to catch. As for a comparison to your driver’s license, do you read the material that comes with renewal notices to learn of changes in the laws regarding driving? And in order to keep your vehicle registered it has to be inspected to ensure that it meets safety standards. You are getting inspections aren’t you?
    No, no one can compel you to learn anything or to behave in a particular way but that is not an excuse to make no attempt to educate the general public. If it was then our society is really doomed.

    • adkDreamer says:

      @James Bullard. Subversion? Troubled myself? Inspections? Please don’t make this about me personally – that just indicates that you have run out of any compelling argument. The notion that education as a compulsory tool somehow magically changes one’s moral character is not supported by any proof that I am aware of. I will certainly let the retail market where I purchase my fishing license know that you say they are acting subversive. I am a catch and release fisherman so fish limits simply do not apply to me. Inspections? James you got that wrong also – not all states require vehicle inspections.

    • Zephyr says:

      It does not seem to be true that hunting and fishing licenses magically make hunters and fishermen better stewards of wilderness based on the huge number of violations of the rules reported by the DEC, and we’re not talking about wearing out a fishing hole–these are willful violations of catch limits, size limits, seasons, hunting safety regulations, etc. Anyone who frequents wilderness areas knows that the closer you are to hunters and fisherman the more trash you encounter, often including many alcoholic beverage containers. Plus, they’re often driving polluting and noisy vehicles, whether boats or ATVs. It is a simple fact observed by everyone. Just the act of discharging a firearm perfectly legally creates a huge noise that resonates for miles around, scaring wildlife and ruining the peace of the wilderness.

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