However, while there are many in favor of these ideas, readers are speaking out against them.
Here’s a sampling of comments made on recent commentary pieces on the Almanack:
“There’s nothing quite like “show me your papers” from a uniformed ranger to ruin your hiking experience. Who is going to enforce this? Where will the money come from? How much will it all cost? You can double whatever answer you get for the costs. A permit system will reduce usage for sure, at least by me. It would be impossible for me to reserve a particular day to go on a hike in advance, and I wouldn’t want to do so. It is unsafe to go until you know what the weather conditions will be. This is going to be a great way to chase people away from the Adirondacks, which I guess is the goal.”
“Let’s talk about who permits would hurt the most. Namely private sector employees and young people. Retired people and people with cushy state jobs that have set hours would benefit. But that’s not how anyone in the real world is working these days. Most of us are subject to “just in time scheduling”. This means we find out on Wednesday or Thursday whether we will have Saturday off or Sunday off. How in the heck are we supposed to reserve a permit if we don’t know what day we will be hiking until a few days before. It makes no sense.”
“At a minimum, we need a plan where there is enough access to comfortably accommodate 80-90% of visitors currently found on the BUSIEST days of the year. Fall short of that minimum, and there’s no way to justify pay-to-play access, nor would the revenue generated from the smaller pool of money be enough to result in any appreciable upgrades to the busiest areas of the Park. … Then there’s the issue of income inequality. One of the beautiful things about the Adirondacks is that ANYONE can come and hike here regardless of income. A permit system puts a serious dent in a uniquely democratic offering the Park has maintained for over a century.”
“The issues are a lack of sufficient trail maintenance and rebuilding over recent decades in addition to extra personnel to handle the issues, and educate the newbies on the trails. The state should have been looking ahead when promoting the region. Now the people are here and they want to shut them out. The Smokies, Blue Ridge Parkway trails, Acadia, Monadnock and others handle a high volume of hikers on the trails, but they built up an infrastructure to match. Looks at the trails and well built sections on Cascade that show no signs of overuse, while others that should have been ‘maintained’ are heavily eroded. I would gladly share the summit with a hundred others who are overjoyed at the sight, than with 10 others who were lucky enough to get a permit. Solitude is gone if there is one other person… Share the wonder and help others appreciate and enjoy our natural heritage.”
“…limiting use is never the answer for publicly owned lands. Building infrastructure engineered to withstand use (including adequately sized parking lots) allows the public to self determine whether to go to popular natural features or to pursue more remote locations.”
What are your thoughts? Can the solution to heavy use be found in building more infrastructure, such as parking? Trail hardening? Share ideas in the comments and thanks for reading!
Photo, from the Almanack archive: Informal votes about trying a permit system in the High Peaks at the Keene Central School stakeholder meeting, July 2019. Photo by Dan Plumley