Credit goes to the Department of Environmental Conservation and its Region 5 facilitators for including a “break-out” session on Permits at its late July High Peaks-Route 73 stakeholder meeting at the Keene Central School. After all, the very word “permit” has been an electrified “third rail” (hazardous, indeed) topic for years.
That was not always the case, however. In 1978, the first draft of a High Peaks Unit Management Plan included a section on “individual user controls” with eight alternatives along a spectrum ranging from mandatory registration and reservation permit systems, to no controls at all. Alternative C, reservation or permit systems, stated that “through past experience the U.S. Forest Service has found that a permit system is one of the best ways of gathering user information concerning an individual management area.”
The 1978 draft UMP went on to recommend that a “free permit system should be initiated in the eastern High Peaks with no effort to limit numbers of people using the area for at least three years. Data will be analyzed. If at some time in the future it is determined that numbers of people using the area will have to be controlled, even just for certain high use weekends, the mechanism will already be in place to do so.” » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy have announced that the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program was awarded the New York State Environmental Excellence Award at a ceremony on November 15th at Union College.
The annual award is given by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation in recognition of outstanding, innovative and sustainable projects or programs and unique partnerships that are contributing to a healthier environment and economy and serving as models of excellence. According to the DEC, award winners are an elite group of committed organizations leading by example as serving as models of excellence within their industry and community. » Continue Reading.
The growing number of hikers in the High Peaks in recent years has heightened concern for the fragile alpine vegetation found on many of the summits.
If the number continues to increase, summit stewards charged with educating hikers may find themselves overwhelmed, said Julia Goren, the Adirondack Mountain Club’s education director.
“I don’t think we’ve lost ground yet,” said Goren, who heads the summit-steward program. “But I do think it’s not hyperbolic that we’re kind of at a tipping point where there’s not much more we can take before there’s going to be some kind of loss. One summit steward can’t talk to six hundred people in a day and make sure that people are respecting every patch of alpine vegetation.” » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has announced that Education Director Julia Goren received the 2016 Guy Waterman Alpine Steward Award. This award is given annually to a person or organization who has demonstrated a long term commitment to protecting the physical and spiritual qualities of the mountain wilderness of the Northeast United States. Julia was recognized for her work protecting the alpine ecosystem and for mentoring the next generation of alpine stewards.
Julia joined ADK in 2004 as an Education intern and became botanist for the Summit Steward program in 2006. In 2008 she became the program’s first full-time Coordinator, and in 2014 she was promoted to Education Director. Julia works with ADK’s school programs, workshops, interpretive programs, Leave No Trace education, and oversees the High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program. » Continue Reading.
After more than a 25 years of protecting New York State’s alpine zone, the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program is being recognized in a new publication.
Adirondack Archangels: Guardians of the High Peaks, (Adirondack Mountain Club, 2016), is a collection of essays by and about individuals who have worked to protect the Adirondack Park and its highest peaks.
The collection is a tribute to the late Edwin H. “Ketch” Ketchledge, Ph.D., who in 1989 led the creation of the Summit Stewardship Program. It comprises thirty-nine essays and includes a foreword by celebrated writer Bill McKibben and over 250 photographs. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Board has voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area Unit Management Plan (UMP) to renovate the existing Porcupine Lodge located on top of Lookout Mountain.
The Lodge, a part of the original ski center, will be used by ski patrol and as a day-use only public warming hut and snack bar. The APA Board found the proposal conforms to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. ORDA is authorized to begin work to ensure Porcupine Lodge is open for the 2015-2016 ski season. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has announced that Summit Stewards interacted with their 400,000th hiker last week. Summit Stewards are naturalists who work at the top of mountains in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks educating hikers in an effort to prevent them from walking on or otherwise damaging New York’s rarest plants, those of the alpine zone.
The program began in 1990 and will reach an estimated 28,000 hikers at the tops of Mt. Marcy, Algonquin, Wright, Colden, Cascade, Haystack, Giant, Gothics, Basin and Saddleback this year. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is urging hikers to be cautious and postpone hikes on trails above 3,000 feet until mid-June.
DEC is asking hikers to avoid trails above 3,000 feet, particularly high elevation trails in the Dix, Giant, and High Peaks Wilderness Areas, due to muddy conditions and the potential damage hiking can cause to vegetation and soft ground. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Almanack contributor (and Former Chief Summit Steward and Johns Brook Lodge Hutmaster) Brendan Wiltse’s crowd-sourced project to document and help protect the alpine zone plants in the High Peaks has just seven days left to meet its funding goal.
Wiltse has put together a unique photo project to benefit and promote the High Peaks Summit Steward Program, but he needs your help funding it. Wiltse is planning to photograph and catalog the rare and endangered plant life in New York’s arctic alpine ecosystem. You can learn more about the project and contribute as much as you want at his Indiegogo page.
In August of 1968, Edwin Ketchledge finished climbing the 46 high peaks of the Adirondacks and received his 46er number, #507. Dr. Ketchledge (“Ketch”) was no ordinary peak-bagger. He was a professor of botany at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, an active member of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), later a President of the 46ers, and a researcher very much interested in the fragile ecosystem found on the Adirondack High Peaks.
Dr. Ketchledge began experimenting ways to help the alpine ecosystem recover from trampling caused by hikers in 1967. His research began on the summits of Dix Mt. and Mt. Colden. He began by transplanting Deer’s hair sedge, one of the rare alpine species, to see if it could successfully colonize impacted areas. It could not. » Continue Reading.
Every June I try to make it up to the summit of either Algonquin or Marcy to take in the vibrant colors of the first alpine flowers in bloom. I usually see lapland rosebay, a pink alpine rhododendron, or Diapensia, a deep green mound with petite white flowers. If I make it over to Skylight I might even get a glimpse of the alpine azalea, a small, deep pink flower only found on Skylight’s summit. I also usually see another alpine flower, one even more rare and colorful than the ones already mentioned.
This flower will talk to you about her special, fragile home and even answer your questions about which jagged peak you see off in the distance. To many, this alpine flower’s name is Julia Goren, a human, but in the alpine ecosystem of New York, she could be considered the rarest and most beautiful alpine flower of them all. » Continue Reading.
Stunted and gnarled, it grows in rugged environments: cliffs, mountaintops, canyon walls. Often very old, it inspires us with its tenacity in the face of harsh conditions.
The word krummholz means “crooked wood” in German. In the Northeast, when we speak of krummholz, we’re talking about the matted, dwarfed trees that circle the tops of some mountains, separating lower elevation full-size forests and true alpine areas. Balsam fir, black spruce, and heartleaf birch are the dominant species, standing no more than eight feet high. Sometimes they’re only knee high. Sometimes only ankle high. » Continue Reading.
While on a mid-week ski tour in February 2009 I found the summit of Mount Marcy covered in untouched windblown snow. It made for difficult skiing, but the shape and texture of the snow, along with a deep blue later afternoon sky, made for an excellent photograph.
The Wild Center will host Wintergreen, a conversation about the future of winter recreation, sports and culture in the Adirondacks on November 12th at 9am at the NYSEF Building at Whiteface Mountain. Wintergreen is an open forum to discuss how climate change will effect the economy and cultural life in the Adirondacks.
Attending will be a delegation from Finland who will give their perspective on the way climate change is effecting Finnish culture and way of life. Community leaders, athletes, business owners and others concerned about the future of the winter culture of the Adirondacks should join in the discussion and sharing of how important winter is to our lifestyle and economy. Best labeled climate disruption, planetary warming is already impacting traditional winter and summer recreation and economic opportunities in the Adirondacks. From shortening the period during which ice covers Lake Champlain and mountain lakes permitting fishing shacks to spring up, to inadequate snow cover for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and certain alpine sports, a shift in expected weather patterns is beginning to affect us and eventually the bottom line. $92 million of tourism income in Essex County in 2009 was earned between December 1 and March 31 that year.
This is the first of two visits from the Finns to the Adirondacks. The team from The Wild Center, including community members, will visit Finland in 2011. These first round of exchanges are focused on education, while the second round will focus on forests and economic issues. During and after each visit, there will be community outreach, lectures and workshops as well as sharing with the online community through the Internet.
Wintergreen is a jointly funded effort. It is part of a project funded by the U.S. Department of State through the Museums & Community Collaborations Abroad (MCCA) program of the American Association of Museums (AAM). The project, entitled “Connecting Finnish and Adirondack Communities: Science Museums Facilitating Awareness and Action on Climate and Energy” is being conducted in partnership with Heureka/The Finnish Science Center. The forum is also sponsored by the Tourism Task Force of the Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan (ADKCAP), through a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. ADKCAP is a coalition of about 30 universities, business organizations, community development groups, nonprofits, local government agencies, and energy action organizations around the Adirondack North Country region working with facilitation support from The Wild Center to find energy savings and green economic opportunities that fit the local lifestyle.
The purpose of the project is to facilitate an exchange of experiences between local communities in Finland and the Adirondacks, discussing community learning and action on energy saving, climate issues, and “green” practices supporting the regions’ commitment to sustainable tourism. The goal of the project is to help communities served by The Wild Center and Heureka to exchange experiences and discuss the need for more information related to climate and energy action. Participants and their communities will have an increased understanding of the global nature of the problem and shared commitment to solutions.
Communities around the northern world are seeking ways of participating in climate change action reducing carbon and saving energy locally. They are starting to notice changes in the climate that may affect their winter cultures, lifestyles and economies. In the two regions participating in the project, science centers and museums are facilitating that exploration and raising awareness of why action is important.
“We’re looking forward to the upcoming Finnish delegation’s visit and their perspective for Wintergreen,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center. “Our environment is similar to that of Finland. In many ways our cultures are often closely tied to our experience of winter and outdoor recreation, which is changing. Wintergreen will be an open discussion of ways we anticipate changes in our winter culture and recreation and understand the effects of climate change.”