There’s been a lot of press, especially since September 2016, about the extensive and significant increase of recreational use in the High Peaks region. Similar problems are occurring in the Catskills.
ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club) Education Programs Manager Seth Jones points out, “This phenomenon is something that ADK has been experiencing and documenting since long before it became a hot press topic,” in part because “ADK owns and operates one of the busiest trailheads in the High Peaks, the main access point for peaks like Algonquin and Mt. Marcy, where the two hundred parking spaces fill to capacity on almost every weekend.” He adds, “ADK’s High Peaks Summit Stewards have seen a 64 percent increase in the number of people they have been interacting with on the summits over the past five years.”
Jones explains, “The rules and regulations governing the High Peaks region are determined by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), so ADK’s efforts to alleviate the pressures of so many people using the High Peaks are primarily educational. ADK is constantly trying new strategies to instill an outdoor ethic in a new wave of recreationists.”
Jones points out a few of the steps ADK has taken over the past several months:
• A volunteer High Peaks Information Center (HPIC) host program—volunteers help HPIC staff educate hikers in the parking lot before they set out on their adventures.
• A free Leave No Trace Awareness Workshop and Alpine Ecology program offered to college and camp groups by Kayla White, Summit Steward Coordinator. Through August 2017, she had given seven programs to over two hundred participants.
• An additional full-time educator was hired, allowing the organization to broaden and increase its educational efforts.
• Growth in Leave No Trace programming by over 200 percent, including three Leave No Trace Master Educator courses, seven Leave No Trace Trainer courses, and multiple awareness workshops.
• ADK’s Professional Trail Crew spent a total of eleven weeks working on the trails in the Eastern High Peaks in summer 2017. Their work was focused on Avalanche Lake and Mt. Colden, where they installed trail features that will help protect the natural resource in the most heavily used travel corridors.
• ADK’s public affairs personnel continued to advocate for more funding for forest rangers and for increasing the amount of New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund that goes toward stewardship and land protection throughout the Forest Preserve.
• ADK’s education and field programs staff worked with a professional designer to develop interpretive signs that address two topics: how to dispose of human waste properly, and the impacts of building rock stacks. These signs will be installed at trailhead kiosks.
• Under a new education program being organized by the 46ers, ADK’s Education Director, Julia Goren, trained trailhead stewards at Cascade Mt. in summer 2017.
• ADK’s Education Department produced multiple responsible-recreation public service announcement videos for social media.
“ADK would not be able to do the work that we do without the support of our members and donors,” notes ADK Executive Director Neil Woodworth. “Your support ensures that ADK can continue to protect wild places in New York and educate the next generation of recreationists.”
For more articles like this, pick up your November-December edition of the Adirondac available now. Members can view the magazine in their Members Area on the website. Non-members can purchase the magazine in our online shop