Conservation Issues by Region
The Adirondack Park is a complex landscape of public and private land in upstate New York. The Park was created in 1892 to protect forests and watersheds and is currently the largest contiguous protected landscape in the United States, with over 6 million acres within its border, known as the blue line. The Adirondack Park has over 3,000 lakes, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, and a large variety of habitats, including globally unique wetlands and old growth forests. There are 46 mountain peaks in the Park above 4,000 feet, known collectively as the Adirondack High Peaks. About 2.6 million acres of the Park is state public land protected from logging and development by Article XIV of the New York State Constitution as “forever wild” Forest Preserve. These public lands have land management classification levels from Wilderness, Primitive, and Canoe which provide the most protection, to Wild Forest which permits motor vehicles, and Intensive Use which is used for developed recreation areas. The majority of the lands are classified as either Wilderness or Wild Forest. Classification decisions are made by the Adirondack Park Agency, but management and public access plans are the responsibility of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Often land classification decisions in the Adirondacks become battles that pit motorized recreational users against non-motorized or muscle-powered recreationists. ADK has served as a passionate advocate for protecting sensitive areas as Wilderness while allowing reasonable trail access for snowmobiles, and reasonable access for trailhead parking through Wild Forest Classifications. ADK encourages responsible recreation in the Adirondacks and state-wide through skills and issue workshops and outings, and through trail building, maintenance, and backcountry stewardship.
Catskill Park and Region
The Catskill Park is a mountainous region of public and private lands in the counties of Ulster, Greene, Delaware and Sullivan. The 600,000 acre Catskill Park was created in 1885, and currently includes 287,500 acres of state “forever wild” Forest Preserve land protected from logging and development by Article XIV of the New York State Constitution, 150,000 acres of New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) lands, and the private lands of the families, communities and businesses that call the Catskill Park their home. Like its northern counterpart, the Adirondack Park, the Catskill Park boundary is also referred to as the blue line, and the primary land management classifications for Forest Preserve lands are Wilderness, Wild Forest, and Intensive Use. There are 98 mountain peaks over 3000 feet. Thirty-five of these are over 3500 feet, and are collectively known as the Catskill High Peaks. The Catskill Park is an integral part of the watershed and reservoirs that provide drinking water to New York City. The Catskill Park is an important recreation area for many ADK Chapters.
New York State has the largest concentration of public land in the United States. There are nearly 4 million acres of state-owned land and almost a million additional acres of conservation easements.* These public lands include the 3 million acres of Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondack Park and Catskill Park (see above), 787,000 acres of State Forest lands, 197,000 acres Wildlife Management Areas, and 335,000 acres in 180 State Parks and 35 Historic Sites. The State Parks, including Sterling Forest, Harriman, Minnewaska, Letchworth, and Allegany (among others) are significant landscapes in New York State’s natural heritage and are important to ADK members. New York’s public lands are managed by NYS DEC except for State Parks which are managed by the NYS Office of Parks Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). Many of the miles of through trails, including the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST), the Finger Lakes Trail, the Long Path, and the Taconic Crest Trail travel through State Forest lands.
*State conservation easements are privately owned land with state protection, management, and public access. State conservation easements are primarily in the Adirondack Park.