ADK COVID-19 FAQ

last updated 5/13/2020

Is ADK closed?

ADK’s public facilities and workplaces are temporarily closed. However, with the announcement of Governor Cuomo’s “New York Forward” plan, we are planning a phased reopening starting in late May. All of our public facilities are located in the North Country region, which as of May 12 meets 6 out of 7 requirements to begin phase one of the state reopening process. If the process goes according to projections, the High Peaks Information Center and The Hungry Hiker will be able to open on May 22.

All lodging/camping facilities (JBL, Adirondak Loj, Cabins, Lean-tos, Wilderness Campground) the Member Service Center in Lake George (and the retail store at this location), and the Albany office will remain closed through at least May 31. Designated staff are monitoring and taking care of the properties during this time.

As the reopening process moves forward, ADK will continue to monitor the recommendations of the state and federal government across our region. More details on ADK closures are available here.

What about reservations, programs, and other events or activities?

Lodging and campground reservations have been canceled through May 31. Refunds are being provided for cancellations, although we are asking guests to consider making a donation or accepting a gift certificate for a future stay. We’re currently allowing reservations beginning June 1.

All in-person education programs have been canceled through June 30, overnight backcountry adult programs have been canceled through July 23, and all backcountry teen programs have been canceled for the year. Several Adventure Travel trips have also been canceled.

Some in-person education programs have been reformatted as webinars, which have proven very popular so far. To reduce seasonal staffing expenses, the Summer Naturalist Internship Program has been canceled, and the Summit Stewardship Program will operate with fewer paid staff.

Supervised volunteer trail projects have been canceled due to closures at project locations. The Professional Trail Crew program will have a shorter season with fewer crew members who will arrive starting June 1.

Seasonal employment for other operations has been delayed until mid-June, including for the Adirondak Loj, High Peaks Information Center, and The Hungry Hiker.

Closing and cancellation decisions are fluid. Please visit our web site home page for updates.

What does this mean for ADK staff?

ADK leadership has so far retained all year-round employees. Staff are the organization’s greatest asset, so keeping them is of the highest importance. But personnel costs are also ADK’s largest expense. ADK received a Federal stimulus PPP Loan to assist with these costs in the short-term. Difficult decisions may be unavoidable the longer this crisis lasts.

Many staff are able to work from home. Technology has been provided where needed. Staff is staying in contact with each other and with volunteer leadership via email, phone, and Zoom video meetings.

As a result of the shut-down, ADK has hired fewer seasonal staff for a shorter duration. Seasonal staff expenses are not covered under the Payroll Protection Plan Loan.

What kind of work is continuing during this downtime?

Education: This is normally a planning period for ADK’s education team, since the program calendar is light and hiking season hasn’t yet begun. They are using this time to review and update their workshop and program curricula, research and apply for grant funding, and modify some in-person education programs to offer them as webinars instead. They are also sharing video tips via social media and keeping outdoor enthusiasts abreast of restrictions related to COVID-19. Education staff continue to participate in virtual meetings to address Adirondack issues like high use in the high peaks, and working with partners for the stewardship of public lands.

Conservation: ADK’s conservation staff and volunteers remain focused on the NYS budget, which includes the full $300 million for the EPF and funding for tick-borne disease awareness and prevention, thanks in part to the messages ADK advocates sent to legislators. Although the NYS budget has passed, ADK must remain vigilant. Environmental cuts could be made in the weeks and months ahead.

They are also working to ensure that the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act includes adequate funding for the Adirondacks, and submitting official comments on issues related to NY public lands and waters. ADK is partnering with Green Amendments for the Generations to secure a Green Amendment for New York State. We are co-hosting a series of webinars on this topic.

Additionally, ADK is planning for invasives prevention – training citizen scientists to spot and report. As of now, summer training and monitoring trips are set to move forward as planned.

Trails: Spring volunteer projects, including National Trails Day, have been canceled, as well as all 2020 high school trail projects. This summer’s adult volunteer projects remain on the schedule. The Professional Trail Crew has a series of projects lined up for the season and has approval from the state to work with specific safety protocols in place. Due to revenue shortfalls, the Pro Crew staff will be smaller and the season is expected to be shorter than usual. Some chapters that maintain trails are doing so with reduced volunteer crews at safe social distances. Contact your local chapter to learn more.

Publications: Publications staff have completed work on the 2021 ADK Calendar, which has gone to press, and is concluding editorial work on a second edition of Kids on the Trail! Hiking with Children in the Adirondacks. Kids..! is planned for release this summer (pending Coronavirus complications).

ADK’s High Peaks Trails guide is being prepared for a 15th edition, to be released at year’s end, and a revised reprint of ADK’s High Peaks map just arrived in-house. The latter is ready to be made available for sale in digital form through Avenza. Before we take that step, we expect to have a marketing plan in place that encourages buyers of the digital map to also have a paper map on hand when they enter the woods.

Adirondac magazine printing and distribution is not impacted thus far.

Other:

Maintenance staff is completing repairs and improvements to facilities and grounds. Volunteer-driven spring work weekends were canceled, but the JBL supply fly-in did take place to prepare that facility for summer use.

Online retail orders are being accepted and fulfilled.

Loj staff are taking advantage of some free online industry trainings while the Loj is closed, honing their foodservice and hospitality skills

Membership is processing new memberships resulting from an intro mailing that hit mailboxes this week, and they are sending renewal notices with language that acknowledges the difficult times.

In addition to ongoing projects, communications staff is keeping the public apprised via email and social media, sharing helpful and positive content, and updating the web site continuously.

Development activities continue and donations can be processed per usual practices. Email acknowledgments/receipts are taking the place hard copies for the time being. ADK’s ididaride! Adirondack Bike Tour fundraiser is still scheduled for July 26.

All departments are adapting as needed during this crisis and planning for the future.

How long can ADK continue like this? What is the plan?

ADK’s finances are a moving target right now, since how long we have to remain closed is unknown. Normal revenue streams – donations, membership, lodging, retail – are drastically reduced, resulting in an estimated gap of about $240,000 per month. We cannot sustain under these conditions.

These are the steps we’re taking:

  1. Applied for and received the federal stimulus Payroll Protection loan for $450,000, which will be forgiven if we retain employees. The loan provides payroll protection for about a three month period.
  2. Applied for and received a $10,000 disaster emergency relief grant with the federal government;
  3. Pursuing other grant opportunities and corporate support options;
  4. Completed a video Q&A with our major donors to discuss how this crisis is affecting ADK, what we are doing, and how they can help. More will follow;
  5. Having calls with and appealing to our chapters for support at this time;
  6. Sending appeals to our donors, members, and friends for support.
  7. Continuing the usual renewal and recruitment process of the membership program.
  8. Communicating with the ADK community via email, social media, and web updates.

How can donors help?

We know this is a very difficult, unprecedented time for everyone. Many people are suffering, losing their jobs, worried about the future.

We hope that as you navigate these months ahead, you will keep ADK in mind and remain dedicated to our mission. An expected shift in charitable giving to assist those most affected by COVID-19 will most definitely impact ADK’s membership and donation revenue, which makes up nearly half of our annual budget. Please remember that protecting the Adirondacks and other wild lands and waters of NY remains terribly important and must continue now and after the pandemic has ended.

You can:

  • Make your annual gift now, or consider a one-time additional gift to help ADK through this challenging time. Gifts of cash, stock, IRA qualified charitable distributions, or Donor Advised Funds have never been more vital.

Gifts may be directed or restricted to specific programs, or for property maintenance. Honestly, personnel costs are our most dire need. Keeping staff is equivalent to keeping programs. They cannot happen without staff.

The CARES Act (Coronavirus Relief Bill) offers a new charitable giving incentive that may be beneficial to you:

It creates a new above-the-line deduction (universal or non-itemizer deduction)   for total charitable contributions of up to $300. The incentive applies to cash contributions made in 2020 and can be claimed on tax forms next year. The law also lifts the existing cap on annual contributions for those who itemize, raising it from 60 percent of adjusted gross income to 100 percent.

  • Make suggestions. If you learn of opportunities for ADK, programmatic or financial, please share them with us. Give us your ideas – your skills and experience are tremendous assets and we welcome your thoughts.

Looking to the future:

We will get through this. ADK has a long history and has survived difficult times in the past. Our mission is timeless, and we must remain focused on the long-term. The dedication of ADK leadership, members, donors, volunteers, and staff provides hope and instills confidence as we face this challenge. That said, there is a lot to look forward to. For instance:

  • ADK Strategic Planning is nearly complete. Consultant Shelli Bischoff of Conservation Impact has worked with a committee of staff and volunteers to develop The Second Century Plan: Refresh, reinvent, reinvigorate for One ADK. After board approval, it will be our pleasure to share it with the public.
  • Planning for ADK’s Centennial Celebration is underway. We look forward to a year-long celebration that both honors ADK’s 100-year history and celebrates a bright and exciting future for the Club.