It seems pretty clear at this point that the state agencies that manage the High Peaks Wilderness Area, and adjacent Wilderness areas, are not interested in limiting public use.
The state is investing in new parking areas, new hiking trails, and a new hiker transportation system that are all designed to facilitate ever-higher levels of public use in the High Peaks, not limit it.
Another peak hiking season has come and gone and with it another year of concern about overuse in the High Peaks. A variety of steps have been taken by the State, Essex County, The Town of Keene, environmental groups and volunteers to deal with this use, with varying degrees of effectiveness. Now it seems that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is poised to try out a permit system in an attempt to address overuse by selectively limiting access. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has partnered with Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Company, to fund the High Peaks Information Center (HPIC) volunteer host program.
Located at one of the most popular trailheads in the Adirondack High Peaks, the HPIC is a major thoroughfare for hikers to get on the trail and begin their trek. In 2017, from the beginning of July through the end of August, there were 27, 251 registered hikers at the Heart Lake Property trailheads located at the HPIC and Adirondack Loj. ADK reports that each year around 35% of these visitors are new to the area. » Continue Reading.
In recent years, public lands throughout the Adirondack Park and across the country are seeing dramatic increases in the number of people coming to recreate.
Increasing numbers of people has led to an increase in human impacts to our public lands, including damage to trails related to increased use during sensitive times such as mud season, more trash on trails, including human waste and toilet paper, damage to sensitive mountain plants, animals such as bears becoming habituated to human food, and a loss of a wilderness experience. » Continue Reading.
I recently visited the rest areas on Northway that have been hyped as information hubs for the Adirondack Park as a tourism destination and as locations that will guide the public about hiking in the Forest Preserve, especially the High Peaks. These facilities are newly built and function adequately as typical rest areas with bathrooms, vending machines, and places to stretch your legs.
Unfortunately, there is scant information about hiking in the High Peaks or the Forest Preserve. As they stand now, these centers, especially the Northway northbound “High Peaks Center” between exits 29 and 30, and the major new tourism information center on the Northway northbound lane between exits 17 and 18, are major missed opportunities. » Continue Reading.
Two Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations have been installed on the Route 73 corridor: one in the hamlet of Keene, the other in Keene Valley.
Both are easy to use and have industry standard Level 2 chargers that support virtually any EV on the road today – users need only to plug in. There is a donation box at each charger to cover electricity costs. The requested donation is about the equivalent of $1.00 per gallon of gasoline. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that the State is prohibiting parking on the shoulders of both lanes of State Route 73 near the Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead starting Friday, Sept. 21. According to an announcement by DEC: “The parking prohibition supports DEC’s multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondacks.”
Parking will be prohibited on the shoulder of the northbound lane from the entrance to the Roaring Brook Trailhead Parking area north to the bridge over Putnam Brook. Parking will be prohibited on the shoulder of the southbound lane between the guiderails south of Putnam Brook Bridge. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is seeking public comments on proposed changes to the Management Plan (UMP) for the Sentinel Range Wilderness. Among the recreation management decisions that would affect the Wilderness Area, are proposals to reroute portions of Pitchoff Mountain Trail, relocate the western Pitchoff Trailhead, and develop a new section of trail to address parking concerns along State Route 73. The draft UMP also proposes a moratorium on the placement of fixed anchors used by climbers, similar to the other Adirondack Wilderness Areas.
A public meeting will be held at 6 pm on December 7, at DEC Region 5 Headquarters, 1115 State Route 86, Ray Brook. The meeting will provide the public an opportunity to learn more on the proposed management actions in the draft UMP and to comment on the proposals. » Continue Reading.
In late December, the rustic red barn that stood at the intersection of Routes 73 and 9N in Keene was taken down by the Department of Environmental Conservation after it became hazardous.
Although not an officially-recognized historic landmark, many who have traveled through Keene saw the barn, with its majestic High Peaks in the background, as a quaint countryside icon.
Since it came down, folks have waxed nostalgic while mourning the abrupt loss of this unassuming structure. I decided to dig into the barn’s history and see if there was more to it than met the eye. » Continue Reading.
For amateur photographer Nick Palmieri, the structure known as the “Keene barn” was always a welcome sight as he arrived in the High Peaks region.
“I’ve always called it the gateway to the High Peaks,” said Palmieri, who lives in New Jersey and runs the Save the Keene New York Barn Facebook page. “From an artists’ point of view that barn just sits in the perfect spot, just to make the scene perfectly beautiful.” » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Transportation has begun work this week on a project to create a parking and scenic viewing area at the intersection of Routes 73 and 9N in Keene, Essex County.
The estimated $40,000 project at the southwest corner of the intersection will create an area to parallel park eight cars, along with an approximately 35-foot long gravel walking path leading to an approximate 20-foot diameter viewing area. Boulders will be placed at the rear of the parking area to help define the space. » Continue Reading.
Standing next to a small, unnamed stream near where it empties into Mountain Pond on a cool September day, scientist Dan Kelting reads a sensor he just dipped in the water to measure electrical conductivity, which is used to gauge road-salt concentrations.
Pure water is a poor conductor of electricity, but road salt, or sodium chloride, increases conductivity. Based on the conductivity reading (285 microsiemens per centimeter), Kelting calculates that the water contains 80 milligrams of chloride per liter. This means the stream contains roughly 160 times more chloride than a similar size stream a few miles away.
Why the difference? The stream near Mountain Pond, north of Paul Smith’s College, is downstream from Route 30, a state highway that is heavily salted in the winter. The other stream, which Kelting refers to as Smitty Brook, runs through the Forest Preserve and is upstream of roads. » Continue Reading.
The state Department of Transportation plans to repair eight bridges on state Route 73 from Saint Huberts to Keene during the next two years.
The bridge work is intended to make the structures more resilient to flooding by widening them, DOT officials told residents at a public meeting at the Keene Fire House Thursday evening. In addition, new steel and concrete foundations will make them more secure. Several bridges will also be raised.
“What the project will do is protect the bridges from severe weather,” said DOT project manager Richard Filkins.
Seven of the bridges will be repaired with funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The DOT will put that work out to bid in the near future and plans to choose a contractor early next year. » Continue Reading.