The Future of Skiing and Snowshoeing at Cascade Welcome Center
Cascade Welcome Center has incredible potential as a community resource for both the surrounding towns and ADK supporters. In fact, its reputation under its previous ownership was just that—it was a family-friendly ski center that welcomed novice and experienced skiers, introduced kids to winter sports, and provided locals and visitors with space to enjoy the many benefits that come with outdoor recreation. ADK intends to double-down on this tradition.
TheHenry Uihlien II and Mildred A. Uihlein Foundation Trust has awarded the Adirondack Mountain Club a $30,000 grant for facility improvements at Cascade Welcome Center. The grant will fund upgrades to the building’s infrastructure and visitor information area, including new windows, an electronic interpretive display, and improved public restrooms. A portion will also be used to purchase trail maintenance equipment needed for the upcoming winter ski season.
Acquired by ADK in April, Cascade Welcome Center is a visitor and education center that addresses high use in the High Peaks region, connects kids and families to nature, and improves access to the outdoors for all. Currently it offers visitor information, public restrooms, and free guided nature walks throughout its 200-acre property. In the winter season, it will offer 12 miles of groomed cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, including rentals and retail.
Last month, ADK moved into Cascade Ski Center. After a year of negotiating, signing paperwork, and visioning, it felt a little surreal to enter the great room not as a visitor, but as part of an organization that now can tap into this property’s incredible potential.
Almost concurrently, we concluded a month of community engagement where we heard from over 100 people who took the time to share their feedback with us through group sessions, individual meetings, and emails. Representing everything from ADK members to local ski areas to state agencies, we heard from a diverse array of stakeholders who all shared in our enthusiasm for Cascade Ski Center’s potential. I want to thank each and every one of them for their time and input.
It’s a rare day that I’m not asked, whether it’s by email, phone, or even after being stopped in the grocery store: what is ADK going to do now that it has purchased Cascade Cross Country Ski Center? Great question.
Let’s start with what we know: ADK’s intent broadly is to use Cascade Ski Center and its location to improve local recreational offerings, reach more visitors with educational outreach, and support local and state visitor use management goals. Within this framework, we already plan to continue offering groomed cross-country skiing and snowshoeing with rentals and retail in the winter months. In the summer, we will offer information services and restrooms to the general public.
What happens beyond that and the degree to which we align our efforts with certain initiatives will depend largely on your input as community members and stakeholders. There is a great deal of potential for what could be done there, ranging from meeting space for community groups to mountain biking to birding programs. We must also consider what needs to be done to ensure that the property facilitates access for everyone, regardless of background, to our incredible public spaces.
In 1921, nearly a hundred years ago, a few dozen people met with the idea of forming an organization that would help facilitate public access to the Adirondack wilderness through trail building. A year later the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) was formed and, soon thereafter, ADK completed the Northville-Placid Trail. In the years that followed, ADK has not only worked to educate the public on how to steward public lands but also advocated for their protection at the highest levels, including in the various New York State courts. And, as other advocacy groups came into the picture, it became the norm to join forces in our collective strength to litigate against anything that ran afoul of Article 14 of the NYS Constitution, the Forest Preserve’s “forever wild” provision.
In response to impending construction on the proposed Class II Community Connector Snowmobile Trails—the center of today’s controversy—ADK went out and began counting trees along the intended corridor to assess the legality of this work and in anticipation of reconvening with the other Adirondack groups on how best to proceed. However, before we could, a lawsuit was singularly commenced. From the perspective of our traditional cooperation, this challenge was not off to a good start. Sadly, the arguments presented went well beyond challenging the proposed construction under the existing standard (3 inch dbh) that had served us well in balancing the Park’s wild nature with “facilitating meaningful public access and enjoyment.”
Instead, petitioners advocated for a new standard that will actually do considerable harm to the natural resources of the Forest Preserve.
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