Adirondack headlines are painting a bleak picture: High use in the High Peaks, litter on the trail, cars parked along busy roads, increasing hiker rescues. Are there drawbacks to high use? Yes, and they absolutely must be addressed. But good can also come from more visitors to our majestic Adirondacks. What people grow to love they will fight to protect. It is up to us to welcome and mentor newcomers so that they, in turn, become fierce advocates of the land.

With your help, we can find a balance.

Education is the key to protecting wild places. It’s human behavior, not solely the number of hikers, that poses a threat to public lands and waterways. In our experience, most people don’t seek to do harm; they simply don’t understand the impacts of their actions.
Together, we can make a difference and affect change. Education is the most sustainable and economical solution to high use issues. The massive 2.6 million-acre Adirondack Forest Preserve has not exceeded capacity, but there’s no denying that High Peaks use during the summer months, especially this year, is problematic. Access limitations, such as a permit system, present a host of challenges that the state isn’t prepared to overcome. We believe that, with guidance, people can learn to care for the outdoors. ADK has the ability and initiatives to effectively connect with and inform people, to teach them new skills, and to inspire behavioral changes to help mitigate human impacts.

Your gift today supports these critical efforts.

In order to address high use issues in the Adirondack High Peaks, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation established the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group (HPAG). As a member of HPAG, ADK encouraged the strong emphasis on education and stewardship found throughout the group’s short-term recommendations, and we commend its support for investments in Leave No Trace outdoor skills and ethics education and existing stewardship programs within the Adirondack Park, such as the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program.

ADK is uniquely qualified to fill the need. After all, responsible recreation has been our focus for nearly a century. With dedicated partners like you working beside us, ADK staff and volunteers have established initiatives that successfully reverse damage in the Eastern High Peaks and elsewhere, even as hiker numbers increase.

With a strong online presence and expert staff, we reach tens of thousands of recreationists before they hit the trail. Tips on preparedness and safety are combined with an ever-present Leave No Trace message. ADK’s educational efforts range from simple social media posts to complex skills workshops – our goal is to meet people where they are and provide the level of training they need. Trailhead Stewards and High Peaks Information Center staff connect with hikers before they hit the trail, equipping them with the knowledge to handle myriad conditions on their adventure, the wisdom to know if they’re in over their heads, and the option to redirect their hike to a lower use or less challenging area. On the mountains, summit stewards teach hikers valuable lessons on protecting fragile alpine vegetation and promote an outdoor ethic that can be applied anywhere. More than 400 fourth graders each year experience, first-hand, the value of their Adirondack Park in ADK’s Three Seasons at Heart Lake School Outreach Program.

Tried and true initiatives must be expanded upon and new programs introduced if we are to keep up with the rising number of hikers. ADK has creatively adapted to meet this need, but there is still much to do. Only with the generous support of caring partners like you can we rise to the growing challenge. And, while we recognize education alone won’t solve every high use issue, teaching a culture of wildlands stewardship will have a deep and lasting impact.

Together we can ensure visitors are properly introduced to natural places, and help build a mutually beneficial relationship between people and the wild lands and waters we love.

We can’t do it without you. Thank you for supporting responsible recreation with your donation today.

Sincerely,

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett
Executive Director

P.S. Your tax-deductible contribution to ADK will immediately be put to work teaching people how to enjoy the outdoors respectfully, safely, and responsibly. Thank you for making a difference with your gift today.