The ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club) Board of Directors voted last week to confirm the organization’s official position on when limits on recreational use, such as a permit system, are appropriate. ADK’s official position is summarized as the following:
It is the position of the Adirondack Mountain Club that before the state seeks to impose restraints on the freedom of the public to use and enjoy the forest preserve, such as a permit system, it must first make the appropriate investments to mitigate the effects on the resource by educating the public, increasing the Forest Ranger force, building sustainable trails, facilitating the spread of use throughout the Forest Preserve, and making determinations of high use based on the ongoing collection of objective data.
As recreational use increases in the Adirondack Park, particularly in concentrated areas like the High Peaks Wilderness, the committee felt it was important to clarify ADK’s position on permitting, which has been a major point of debate as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) considers new management strategies to address impacts from high use. “Many of the recreational impacts that we are seeing in the Adirondack Park, which include trailside erosion and human waste at trailheads, are exacerbated by a lack of infrastructure,” said Ben Mastaitis, ADK Environmental Conservation Committee Chair. “Before the state considers restricting access to areas like the High Peaks Wilderness, ADK would like to see and be involved in a concerted effort to create impact-minimizing infrastructure, such as installing pit privies at trailheads to contain human waste, hardening trails that withstand erosion, and so on.”
ADK’s position aligns well with the list of short-term management recommendations sent to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos in June by the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group. These recommendations, which were commissioned by Seggos to address high use in the High Peaks Wilderness, highlight education, stewardship programs, and data collection as being the first line of defense against recreational impacts.
“Through our own education outreach efforts—from the High Peaks Information Center to the Summit Stewardship Program—we have seen how powerful education is in minimizing user impacts,” said Michael Barrett, ADK Executive Director. “ADK believes that every new visitor is a future steward of the Adirondack Park. We would like to invest in their enthusiasm for the Adirondacks, so they become stewards of the Park and other areas like it.”
The entire resolution can be read here.
Photo: Crowding on Cascade Mountain by Dan Plumley/Almanack archive