Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewards were in training from Memorial Day weekend (5/25) through mid-June. New volunteers participated in training in early May and team stewarding through the end of June. Summit Steward training includes team stewarding with returning staff, Wilderness First Aid, Leave No Trace Trainer course, botany training on Marcy, Algonquin, Whiteface, and trail work training on Cascade. Summit Stewards and volunteers are now confidently educating the public on the importance of doing the rock walk above treeline to protect fragile alpine plants.
The peaks have been busy! Summit Stewards have spoken with over 4,516 people in the past month, a 22% increase in visitors over the same period last year. Stewards have also been working at increasing outreach to camp groups before they arrive. Summit Steward Coordinator Kayla White and other stewards have already educated over 100 camp counselors in alpine stewardship and Leave No Trace Outdoor Skills and Ethics.
Research is another important part of protecting the alpine ecosystem. Summit Stewards have been participating in Vermont’s Center for Ecostudies Mountain Birdwatch project. This program focuses on 10 high-elevation bird species, with a focus on the rare Bicknell’s Thrush. Summit Stewards went up Saddleback Mt., as well as the north and south trails of Algonquin Peak, while stopping at specific points to listen to bird calls and map the locations of responding birds to estimate population density.
Botany Stewards are working on re-sampling the populations of rare, threatened, and endangered plant species to determine how these communities have shifted over the past decade. Botany Stewards have visited Wright, Algonquin, Boundary, Iroquois, Marcy and Colden for this study. Focusing on the 27 rare, threatened, and endangered alpine species, Botany Stewards count individual plants in sample plots across NY’s alpine zone. You might see them on remote sides of the mountain doing research.