ADK Summit Stewards just hit a major milestone—five hundred thousand hikers educated since 1989. Wow! In that time one million boots have been rerouted, twenty-seven fragile alpine species protected, seven alpine Adirondack peaks stewarded. But we can’t let our guard down now. More people than ever are visiting the peaks, encountering our alpine areas for the first time. The need for Summit Stewards is greater than ever, and we’re counting on your help to ensure an equally successful future. Your donation today protects threatened alpine habitats now and for future generations.
You may know Summit Stewards educate hikers in Leave No Trace Outdoor Skills and Ethics, alpine stewardship, and the ecosystems found on the summits of New York’s tallest peaks. Perhaps you are aware of increasingly high use in the Eastern High Peaks by eager recreationists, threatening the survival of these rare plants.
But did you know that less than 170 acres of alpine habitat remain in New York State and only in the Adirondack Forest Preserve? With your support, Summit Stewards —five paid staff and twenty-five devoted volunteers— hike over 1000 miles each season and spend 2500 hours on the highest peaks, encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to stay on the bedrock of summits and avoid trampling these delicate plants into extinction.
Since the program’s inception, half a million hikers have learned from Summit Stewards. The impact of those interactions (and the empowerment of hikers that follows) is remarkable, as evidenced by photographs the Stewards have been analyzing. The Photopoint Monitoring project compares baseline photographs taken in the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s to photos of the same locations taken today.
The previous round of analysis took place in 2009, before the recent surge in hikers. Have traditional methods of alpine stewardship continued to protect the alpine zone, even with the tremendous increase in visitors? YES, Summit Stewards are holding the line! Photos show unmistakable recovery since the start of the program, and importantly, no decline between 2009 and 2015. Your gift today ensures Summit Stewards keep working to hold the line on our most frequently visited alpine peaks.
Half a million hikers in twenty-nine years. That’s a million boots and countless steps that did not trample the vegetation. The photos tell the story of what was and help us imagine what might have been without the efforts of Summit Stewards. Through education, hands-on conservation, and alpine research, this program makes a meaningful difference. It takes the dedication of many–donors, volunteers, staff, partners, and leaders–to successfully preserve New York State’s rarest alpine habitats. Without us, these plants risk extinction. With us, they have a chance. Please give today and be part of the solution. The alpine summits need you.
Donate $100 or more to receive a set of five “imperiled alpine plants” notecards, created exclusively for Summit Steward supporters.
Neil Woodworth, Executive Director
(ADK) Adirondack Mountain Club
P.S. Protect New York’s rarest alpine habitats with your gift today. Help Summit Stewards teach hikers to honor and care for these precious natural places.