Monday, June 8, 2020

Wilderness Management and COVID 19 Management Are Similar

As I watch Governor Andrew Cuomo’s press conferences daily, I continue to be extremely impressed by his overall handling of the COVID 19 Pandemic. His daily briefings are fact-based with his opinion sprinkled in. It is inspiring. He may have stumbled out of the gate on how quickly he started the State’s PAUSE, his handling of the nursing home situation, and his kerfuffle with Mayor Bill de Blasio is a distraction, but overall I give him an A minus.

The phases to opening the state within each of the State’s ten regions is nothing short of genius. Its fact based, has clear phases and for each phase has clear criteria for determining whether to go to the next phase or whether things need to be shut down once again. His plumbing valve metaphor for opening the state with gauges to help determine whether the state will continue to open the valve or close it down based on how the gauges/indicators are doing is a model for the rest of the country. I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t work pretty well in helping the state move forward.

It struck me today, as I was walking in the woods, how similar managing the opening of the State is to wildland management and the issues the Adirondack backcountry is facing today. The Governor’s valve metaphor is the same for managing the Adirondack’s Wilderness Areas. Let me say up front, I am not stating that wildlands management is the crisis that COVID-19. COVID-19 is a true crisis with loss of life and economic impacts of a staggering scale. Our wildland management issues however, are a major challenge even if not on the scale of a pandemic. The state has historically struggled in confronting the challenges of wildland management. Issues of visitor use have been around since 1869 when W.H.H. Murray’s book Adventures in the Wilderness was published launching the “Murray Rush” into the Adirondacks, giving rise to the moniker “Murray’s Fools.”

The Governor’s metaphor depicts a way to establish appropriate visitor-use levels and acceptable recreation-activity impacts to our wildlands. Just like the State had to come up with the indicators and standards for monitoring COVID-19 as part of managing a return to normalcy, the DEC must come up with the indicators and standards for monitoring visitor use impacts as part of managing our wildlands. Ultimately a decision is made as to the area’s visitor capacity. You monitor the indicators and adjust the number of visitors to maintain the standards set for protecting our natural resources and providing quality visitor experiences.

I wish I could take credit for these concepts but all I’ve done is adapt the Governor’s metaphor to wildland management. Visitor use management concepts and methods have been around for decades.

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Jack Drury is co-owner of Leading E.D.G.E., a professional development firm, professor emeritus of North Country Community College having founded the college's Wilderness Recreation Leadership Program and has been an Adirondack guide for 45 years.

30 Responses

  1. Bob D. says:

    Well stated indeed. Cuomo is setting an example of fact – based operations which Washington would do well to emulate.

  2. ADK Bill says:

    Stumbled ….. Murdering thousands of elderly. Talk about easy to impress, I am sick of hearing him say ” he is ALLOWING US ” to do every day American stuff.

  3. Treeman says:

    Cuomo is murdering thousands. He makes me sick! He needs to be fired

  4. Treeman says:

    Rioters and protesters spreading the virus and nothing to be done about it.

  5. Walt Paul says:

    I am aware leading edge has been been feeding off the public teat for a while now… Grant finding for community trails system. Your praise of our Governor’s handling of the virus smacks of kissing up to keep the the money flowing. Review of data comparisons regarding action taken and results by state makes your article laughable to the informed. NYS is on the verge of moral and fiscal collapse…what happens when the State can no longer afford to make payments in lieu of taxes on State and Easement Lands. Certainly a man of your intellect has this figured out!
    Walt Paul

  6. ADKresident says:

    “extremely impressed by his overall handling of the COVID 19 Pandemic”…..”his handling of the nursing home situation”, a “stumble”..? Are you kidding me?
    Thousands of seniors were led to the slaughterhouse at Cuomo’s direction. How can something that seriois even be downplayed as if he picked the wrong color for his impressive PowerPoint presentations? (Obviously wasn’t one of your loved ones who died) That is not only incompetence but a negligent disregard for the most vulnerable. For that alone, he should step down. Unless you think 20% of the fatalities in NY were simply disposable human beings being they were going to “die anyway”, using Cuomo’s own words, then no wonder it so easy to just overlook such a minor “stumble” and regard him to be borderline genius.

    • Boreas says:

      “Thousands of seniors were led to the slaughterhouse at Cuomo’s direction.”

      I think you need to tone it down a little if you want to be taken seriously. Simply regurgitating talk-radio hyperbole won’t make your point.

      • ADKresident says:

        “Simply regurgitating talk-radio hyperbole won’t make your point”…. That’s quite an assumption on your part without having any knowledge about me or my sources, don’t you think? Respectfully though, I don’t really care if you take me seriously or not. The policy that led to the unnecessary deaths of so many speaks for itself. Obviously, you have no real firsthand knowldege. Go talk to someone who lost a parent in a nursing home and tell them to “tone it down” if they want to be taken serious.

        • Boreas says:

          Being old myself, I have lost 3 loved ones in nursing homes this year so far – one a sibling. So indeed, your assumption of me is off base, and is irrelevant to my comment. But characterizing Cuomo as a Hitleresque murderer simply has no place in decent discourse. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that you didn’t come up with the notion yourself.

  7. Boreas says:


    I understand your analogy and agree with fact-based studies driving any usage limits. It is how the Fed has operated for decades. Monitor closely and make small adjustments when needed.

  8. David Gibson says:

    Excellent parallel thinking from Jack Drury and completely in line with the framework (and legal requirements) in the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and the wildlands management and monitoring framework still under discussion between NYS DEC and APA staff. Thank you, Jack.

  9. Stephen Daniels says:

    Sorry Jack, I have much respect for you, but you and your class 2 e-bike (illegal in most of the Adirondacks) have strayed far off the trail on this one.

    • Jack Drury says:

      Thanks for the comment. For the record, I have never advocated e-bike use except where motorized used is allowed and even then only class 1 bikes.

  10. Charlie S says:

    ““Thousands of seniors were led to the slaughterhouse at Cuomo’s direction.”

    There is much truth to this and when I first heard it I just thought to myself, “Geez, just when he’s looking good for a change he allows something like this.” They’re all like this, ie..they do stupid things. It makes you wonder! I was never a big fan of Cuomo, and I don’t know anybody that likes him, or they’re very questionable about him, but all in all I’ll take him over a conservative as in the main their policies go against all that I see as good, plus the ship always seems to sink faster when they gain control….as is now the case regards D.C. and those nut-jobs in power these past coming up on four years.

  11. Charlie S says:

    ADKresident says: “The policy that led to the unnecessary deaths of so many speaks for itself. Obviously, you have no real firsthand knowledge. Go talk to someone who lost a parent in a nursing home and tell them to “tone it down” if they want to be taken serious.”

    You’re right ADK, and as I say…it makes one wonder, ‘What goes through their heads?’ Our leaders? Democrats and republicans alike!

    • ADKresident says:

      Unfortunately, people have become so politically polarized in their thinking they can’t see reality until it hits home and effects them personally. It’s very difficult to look at the political climate of today objectively – you have to be intentional no matter what side. I’m heartsick over what happened in the nursing home when it could have been preventable. . And to top it off, not be able to attend a funeral because of the “virus” yet turn on the TV with constant coverage of multiple funerals? What, we citizens can’t practice social distancing when we honor a loved one’s life and have to wait months for closure while politicians brazenly defy their own orders for political reasons? Or watch 1000s march shoulder to shoulder protesting in the streets but my kids who have worked so very hard for years can’t even celebrate with a graduation, even 6 ft apart in a mask? Sorry, I can’t tone this one down. Too much has hit home. The hypocrisy has been exposed and the “do as I say but not as I do” agendas must end, on both sides. Sorry for rabbit trailing off of original post but after reading Cuomo being heralded as a “genius” I had to weigh in on how his “brilliance” as effected the lives of so many of us “common, every day people” .

  12. Charlie S says:

    Walt Paul says: “NYS is on the verge of moral and fiscal collapse…”

    This is not unique for our state Walt. This country is on the verge of fiscal collapse. Moral collapse? We’re already there, or damn near…and that has nothing to do with New York. Matter of fact some of the brightest are up in these parts New York and New England in general, but we’re still close to something thanks to the overall moral deficit this society owns all across this land USA. I cannot wait until we make America great again, though I suspect highly I’ll be dead by then. Whatever ‘Make America great again’ means!

    • Boreas says:


      America had a few good years, but was it ever great? It had global strength and respect for a while, it had a strong middle class for a few decades which helped distribute some of the prosperity. But even during the best of times, we had multitudes of problems – racism, anti-Semitism, gender inequality, and poverty – just to mention a few. My mantra is “Try to make America better.” – whatever that means.

  13. ADKresident says:

    I never characterized Cuomo as “Hitleresque” – I criticized his policy, which in fact led to many deaths. That’s the reality. I can see you are attempting to brand me into a particular political catagory because you are offended with my choice of words by adding your own judgements. I’m not going to defend myself or intent here. Having said enough, I’m sincerely very sorry for your loss.

    • Boreas says:

      BTW Charlie – plenty of snappers out the last few days laying eggs. No roadkill seen yet – hope it stays that way!

    • Boreas says:

      There – wasn’t that a nicer way to state your opinion than

      “Thousands of seniors were led to the slaughterhouse at Cuomo’s direction.”

      All I ask is that we try to keep our comments a little less incendiary. By the time this is over, we all will have losses of friends and family and perhaps our own demise. I certainly don’t feel Cuomo has hit the ball out of the park – he has several errors under his belt. But having the CV19 global epicenter dumped on his plate, I have to at least give him and his advisors a passing grade for developing a plan and sticking to it – with all its warts. In dramatic contrast, I do not give the Trump administration a passing grade. I only hope we all take note of how we can be more prepared in the future and not let public health be treated as the red-headed stepchild of the national economy.

      • ADKresident says:

        “Thousands of seniors, not by their own will or choice from a family member but by a policy put in place by Gov Cuomo were led to their pre-mature demise.”

        There. That is my nice version which hopefully is less incendiary for you, Mr. Boreas.

        • Boreas says:

          Thank you for your consideration of my request. There will be many thousands more friends and loved ones lost from this pandemic around the world in the next few years. No textbook exists on how to fight it – but we are learning. Hopefully the world will learn from all mistakes made battling this novel virus before another emerges. And hopefully we will have effective leadership and resources in place when the next one hits.

        • livetocanoe says:

          Well, we did lead the nation in nursing home deaths, followed by NJ. NY reversed it’s policy finally admitting that putting recovering patients in nursing homes was a public health disaster. Most other states did not do this to begin with, patients were sent to temporary hospitals, or nursing homes that were cleared and left vacant for covid patients. If Cuomo had quit his daily TV grandstanding and applied some thought to the problem thousands of deaths could have been prevented.

      • Steve B. says:

        Curious if we expect our leaders to be God ? and make judgement calls that are 100% all the time. Presidents such as FDR, Truman, Kennedy, LBJ, Reagan, Clinton, etc…. all made errors in judgement that cost lives. Cuomo has as well, for the same reasons, erroneous information.

        The CDC recommended and many states were doing exactly what NY did, returning residents to their care facilities. I think the error was the state was not quick enough to recognize that the facilities were poorly prepared to isolate patients that had been treated for CV and could likely spread the disease. I suspect that one concern was to prevent residents from returning to what was essentially their homes, was wrong. The next step of protecting the current residents wasn’t paid attention too by the state or the facilities. Early information was present that seniors would be especially hard hit, the issue was committing resources to protect them and the urgency to have that happen that wasn’t recognized and acted upon.

        I don’t like Cuomo, never have, will never vote for him, but as compared to other leaders not mentioned, he’s done a good job. Unlike those other un-named leaders, I know that Andrew Cuomo is aware that his decisions were faulty but that he does has a conscience and will try to prevent re-occurrences. I trust him far more than those at the national level.

        • Boreas says:

          Well said Steve B.! I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be in charge of a world pandemic epicenter. Hard decisions had to be made in a crisis with no modern precedent. At the peak in NYC, many life or death decisions were made hourly by medical staff based on age, prognosis, and how long the respirators may be tied up on any given patient. Imagine the stress of making those triage decisions.

          But at least healthcare workers have some training in triage and these types of decisions. Politicians aren’t typically trained, or are necessarily good at crisis management. The best ones rely on assimilating often contrary opinions from the best possible sources before coming to a decision. And then there are the others who only rely on their authority and how any decision will best benefit them. A person’s true character is typically exposed in a crisis.

  14. ADKresident says:

    Sorry, last post went in wrong spot. Supposed to be a reply to Boreas.

  15. Charlie S says:

    ADKresident says: “Unfortunately, people have become so politically polarized in their thinking they can’t see reality until it hits home…”

    A big Amen to that!

  16. Pufferguns says:

    Cuomo is a charlatan,despicable and a coward. Vilifying police as they are under attack, doing nothing but daily blabbering about deaths and new cases then let’s rioters,thugs,arsonists and murderers run amok.Remove NYC from upstate and let the animals have at it.

  17. John Wetmore says:

    Wow! This is about as opposite to my point of view as it can get. Any day I watch Emperor Cuomo’s show I become very depressed and angry because of his one sided approach to the virus thing. One day he actually said that if we only saved one life, everything that was done was worth it. This is ridiculous and shows a lack or real leadership on his part. A good leader would realize that both the economic damage and loss of life must be weighed and make a decision that would be best for the most people. The way Cuomo has handled the crisis has hurt our economy more than we currently even understand. Many people have lost their businesses and things like drug overdose and suicide will be following. I do agree that there is a parallel with management of the Adirondack park and the agency doing this has done an equally bad job. For a few years I owned a business inside and got to know some of the long time permanent residents. They resent the Albany elites who would like to see the Adirondacks saved for their amusement and could care less about the people who actually live there making a living. In both the Covid-19 management and the Adirondack park we need to put the economic needs of the people at least as high of priority if not greater than other things. While viewing the Cuomo show makes me want to kill myself on some days, President Trump’s addresses are always uplifting and positive in nature. His comment that we must open the country back up and get our economy going and simply “tough out” any virus problems that come from it. This is the correct attitude for the most people. Had I been a leader I would NOT have closed the economy and simply accepted more death as a price for the Freedom that we have always enjoyed.

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