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Adirondack Explorer

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

DEC responds to backcountry skiers’ concerns

backcountry skier

A backcountry skier crosses Avalanche Lake.

Backcountry skiers have long complained that state agencies have given them short shrift when it comes to accommodating their sport in the Forest Preserve. One major complaint is that years ago the state Department of Environmental Conservation transformed part of the Wright Peak Ski Trail into a hiking trail; the subsequent narrowing and eroding of the trail has rendered it often unsuitable for skiing.

In proposed changes to the High Peaks Wilderness management plan, DEC aims to address the problem by rerouting the lower part of the ski trail away from the hiking trail. The department also proposes a number of other ski-friendly changes to the management plan.

The Adirondack Park Agency is expected to vote on the revised management plan on Friday.

Backcountry skiers offered plenty of comments to the proposals. With DEC’s responses, they fill more than 10 pages. Earlier in the week, we presented comments from rock climbers. Following are the comments from skiers, with DEC’s responses in italics.

Skiing

Comment: Support the creation of dedicated, safer ski trails which separate skiers from those that snowshoe or hike in the winter. In general, snowshoes and hikers destroy ski tracks and can safely climb/descend at a steeper pitch that backcountry skiers.

Response: The Department and APA are working to develop a Ski Trail guidance document that will help with the management of Ski Trails across the Forest Preserve. Within any given wildland area there will be many competing uses on the backcountry infrastructure. As new trails are proposed there will need to be a balance to ensure the wilderness experience is not degraded as trail densities increase with duplicative single use trails. Any new trail proposals have the benefit of being purpose-built facilities that follow the latest best management practices, as oppose to most of the trail system that wasn’t designed before being built.

Comment: In many cases, High Peak backcountry skiers are trying to reach the slides and ski trails that help get them there safely would be an asset. In addition, by focusing on use of the slides, fewer ski trails would be needed to give skiers access to a large amount of potential ski acreage.

Response: The Department and APA are working to develop a Ski Trail guidance document that will help with the management of Ski Trails across the Forest Preserve. In managing a Wilderness Area, the Department needs to balance protecting the natural resources and preserving opportunities for “primitive and unconfined type of recreation”, outlined in the APSLMP. Once an approved Ski Trail guidance document is developed the Department will be better informed to address this issue.

Comment: While the plan to improve ski/hike trails in Adirondack Park is commendable, there is nothing in the proposal that addresses skin track development or the improvement and expansion of backcountry skiing through tree clearing and other improvements.

Response: Skin Tracks and Open Woods Ski Routes (Skiing in Trees or Glades) are currently not an allowable facility mentioned or defined in the APSLMP. DEC, APA and a group of stakeholders convened a Backcountry Skiing Working Group, which discussed these issues and Backcountry Ski Trails. This process is not complete and still needs to be vetted through legal interpretations of the NYS Constitution, APSLMP and other factors before being presented for public comment.

Comment: Safer Separate Reroutes of the Marcy Ski Trail and Whales Tail Ski Trails that were both approved by the Conservation Department in the 1930s and were also converted mostly to shared hiking trails in the 1970s.

Response: Prior to the adoption of the 1972 APSLMP there were many actions or activities approved by the NYS Conservation Department (predecessor to the NYS DEC) which did not align with the Wilderness Classifications of lands that the APSLMP laid out. The original APSLMP identified Nonconforming issues within the Wilderness such as Interior Cabins, Truck Roads and other items. Since 1972 DEC has sought to manage the HPWC as a Wilderness. Since that time the understanding of Wilderness Experience has evolved as the landscape has continued to regrow from its logging past. The natural succession of the forest and the reclaiming of the old logging roads has changed.

 Comment: Ski trails do not cause the erosive damage seen on the hiking trails, are safer for skiers who otherwise need to avoid hikers and postholes, and safer for hikers and skiers alike when the trails are segregated.

Response: Ski trails that aren’t used as hiking trails, in non-winter months will have less erosion. The challenge of mixing ski trail within a hiking trail network is doing it in a way that will not have unintended use consequences because hikers perceive them as a shortcut. The Whales Tail Ski trail is an example of impacts from shortcutting.

Comment: Safer Separate Skier Access Trails from ADK Mountain Clubs ADK LOJ to Avalanche Lake and Lake Arnold via Marcy Dam.

Response: DEC is committed to improving the trail corridor to Avalanche Lake from Adirondack Loj. A more sustainable trail design is being implemented with reroutes, hardening and other trail work. DEC is looking at improving the skiing opportunities on the trails as we undertake this work.

Comment: Safer Separate Skier Access Trails to the Adirondack Mountain Clubs Johns Brook Lodge Huts from the Garden Parking Lot and extending in the Lower Elevations up the Orebed Trail to the Base of the Orebed /Saddleback Slides.

Response: Given the terrain constraints of the Johns Brook Valley, snowfall, aspect and other considerations the DEC will work to improve the overall sustainability of the Phelps Trail from the Garden Trailhead. DEC has added a proposal to improve the Klondike Notch Trail to provide improved Skiing Access into the Johns Brook Valley. This trail has many benefits, including; northeast exposure, to hold snow longer; low volume of winter hiker usage; minimal bridges and stream crossings; higher elevation to hold snow and avoids issues with winter maintenance issues and safety concerns of getting people up to the Garden Trailhead.

Safer Separate Skier Access to the Boquet River Lean-to from the Round Pond Trailhead and extending to the Base of the North Slides of Dix Mountain via a looping Skier Only Ski Trail in the Lower Elevation North Facing Hardwoods.

Response: DEC will work to improve the overall sustainability of the Dix Mountain Trail and will take steps to make sure work completed does not negatively impact the skiing opportunities along this existing trail. At this time the looping skier only trail would be considered a Backcountry Ski Trail and not allowed in the APSLMP.

Comment: Safer Separate Skier Access near the ADK Mountain Clubs Johns Brook Lodge Huts via a looping Skier Only Ski Trail in the Lower Elevation North Facing Hardwoods of Short Job Mountain off the Orebed Trail.

Response: At this time the looping skier only trail would be considered a Backcountry Ski Trail and not allowed in the APSLMP.

Comment: Safer Separate Skier Access via a looping Skier Only Ski Trail in the Lower Elevation Northern Hardwoods of Phelps Mountain off of the Marcy Dam Truck Trail.

Response: At this time the looping skier only trail would be considered a Backcountry Ski Trail and not allowed in the APSLMP.

Comment: Safer Separate Skier Access via a looping Skier Only Ski Trail in the Lower Elevation East Facing Hardwoods of Santanoni Mountain off of the existing logging road.

Response: At this time the looping skier only trail would be considered a Backcountry Ski Trail and not allowed in the APSLMP.

Comment: Safer Separate Skier Access via a looping Skier Only Ski Trail in the Lower Elevation North Facing Hardwoods of Ragged Mountain.

Response: At this time the looping skier only trail would be considered a Backcountry Ski Trail and not allowed in the APSLMP.

Comment: Safer Separate Skier Access via 3 Looping Skier Only Ski Trails in the Lower Elevation North and East Facing Hardwoods off of the Gulf Brook Road.

Response: At this time a looping skier-only trail would be considered a Backcountry Ski Trail and not allowed in the APSLMP.

Comment: Wish to see the high peaks unit management plan reflect winter recreation as it was originally meant to by allowing more skier only trails accessing key areas in the high peaks. The Adirondacks should not cater exclusively to hikers and significant safety concerns for the public should be addressed in a reasonable way.

Response: The HPWC UMP seeks to provide a recreational infrastructure network that is appropriate for a Wilderness Area. Skiing and Snowshoeing are allowed throughout the unit, with the access and degree of difficulty being dependent on many variables. Given the dense network of trails within the eastern portion of the unit, it is not possible to create duplicative trail networks for each use. DEC acknowledges that the majority of the existing trail network is not sustainable and will continuously work to improve the entire trail system to be more sustainable and improve the user experience of all users. Skiing opportunities on trails will be considered as Trail Work Plans are developed.

Comment: APSA would like to thank the NYS DEC for including the Wright Peak Ski Trail / Whales Tail Ski Trail Reroute in the High Peaks UMP Amendments.

Response: Thank you for your support on this matter.

Comment: Besides the Safety Issue of Skiers hitting the hidden boulders under the Snow on the lower shared hiking trail section there’s also the Safety Issue of Collisions with Snowshoeing or Barebooting Postholing Winter hikers headed to and from Algonquin or Wright Peak on this popular shared hiking trail. It’s a Safety Issue for both Skiers and Winter Hikers and the APSA applauds the NYS DEC for including our simple solution proposal of rerouting the Wright Peak Ski Trail off of the shared Hiking Trail. This Proposal is unfortunately also Conditional on the Passing of the BackCountry Ski Trail Standards and Maintenance Guidance MOU Document and Accompanying State Land Master Plan Amendments defining BackCountry Ski Trails, Skin Tracks, and Open Woods Ski Routes. We encourage the NYS DEC, NYS APA, and the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo to move these Documents and Amendments, which were completed in the Winter of 2014-15, swiftly through the approval process with the goal of Winter 2018-19 Safer Separate Skier Access Trail Opportunities Available on NYS Forest Preserve Lands for BackCountry Skiers who reside within or visit this amazing Adirondack Park!

Response: Thank you for your support on this issue. DEC, APA and a group of stakeholders convened a Backcountry Skiing Working Group, which discussed these issues and Backcountry Ski Trails. This process is not complete and still needs to be vetted through legal interpretations of the NYS Constitution, APSLMP and other factors before being presented for public comment.

Comment: The Wright Peak Ski Trail is a great idea that will be a great benefit to skiers while pretty much eliminating any incentive for hikers to use this trail in the non-winter season.

Response: Thank you for your support on this matter.

Comment: I agree with the dual-designation of more trails for both skiing and hiking. The proposed standards appear reasonable.

Response: Thank you for your support on this matter.

The East River Trail probably cannot be made skiable all the way to Flowed Lands.

Response: During the development of the Trail Work Plan for the East River Trail reroutes and upgrades will be considered to make the trail sustainable and a provide for an improved user experience for hikers and skiers.

Comment: Backcountry skiing is a growing trend in the Adirondacks, and represents a low-impact use of surrounding trails. There are numerous benefits to increasing ski trails and ski access, many of which have been expressed by the Adirondack Powder Skier Association. Vermont and New Hampshire have acted as leaders in backcountry skiing development, and there is tremendous potential for the Adirondacks to rival these trail systems.

Response: DEC and APA have interacted with Federal and State Agencies in other states that have pioneered the development backcountry skiing opportunities in the northeast. NYS Constitutional protection of the Forest Preserve, along with the Wilderness and Wild Forest classifications through the APSLMP differ from land protections in other states. DEC, APA and a group of stakeholders convened a Backcountry Skiing Working Group, which discussed these issues and Backcountry Ski Trails. This process is not complete and still needs to be vetted through legal interpretations of the NYS Constitution, APSLMP and other factors before being presented for public comment.

Comment: Support the applicable amendments to UMP as it relates to the Wright Mountain Ski Trail and Whale’s Tale Ski Trail being separate from the hiking trail.

Response: Thank you for your support on this matter.

Comment: The Adirondack Ski Powder Association has drafted proposals for separate safer re-routes of many well-known ski trails and proposals to define ski trails, skin tracks, and OPEN WOODS SKI ROUTES. These proposals should be incorporated and approved.

Response: DEC, APA and a group of stakeholders convened a Backcountry Skiing Working Group, which discussed these issues and Backcountry Ski Trails. This process is not complete and still needs to be vetted through legal interpretations of the NYS Constitution, APSLMP and other factors before being presented for public comment.

Comment: Not only have the available ski trails shrunk to an almost unskiable width, but the fact is that we have very few trails and glades to enjoy sliding down our mountains compared to the states of Vermont and New Hampshire. With an increase in popularity of backcountry skiing, skiers are coming to our mountains in increasing numbers. Providing safer routes for both skiers and snowshoers and more open terrain in our mountains would be in my opinion a welcomed change to the Unit Management Plan and a nice shift in the variety of sustainable, low impact recreational usage that our state supports.

Response: DEC, APA and a group of stakeholders convened a Backcountry Skiing Working Group, which discussed these issues and Backcountry Ski Trails. This process is not complete and still needs to be vetted through legal interpretations of the NYS Constitution, APSLMP and other factors before being presented for public comment.

Comment: In addition to this, I see the benefit and fully support adopting the proposed backcountry ski trail standards and maintenance guidance MOU Document and accompanying state Land Master Plan Amendment defining backcountry Ski Trails, Skin Tracks and Open Woods Ski Routes. I hope that these changes can make their way through the amendment process in a timely manner.

Response: DEC, APA and a group of stakeholders convened a Backcountry Skiing Working Group, which discussed these issues and Backcountry Ski Trails. This process is not complete and still needs to be vetted through legal interpretations of the NYS Constitution, APSLMP and other factors before being presented for public comment.

Comment: Backcountry skiing opportunities are limited in the Adirondacks and so many of us within the community end up taking trips back and forth to Vermont and New Hampshire. I believe this is a huge piece missing from the outdoors paradise in the Adirondacks. One only needs to look at the success and community engagement of the Rochester/Randolph Area Sports Trail Alliance in Vermont to see how such plans can be implemented responsibly, and how passionate skiers will go the distance to ensure it is done correctly.

Response: DEC and APA have interacted with Federal and State Agencies in other states that have pioneered the development backcountry skiing opportunities in the northeast. NYS Constitutional protection of the Forest Preserve, along with the Wilderness and Wild Forest classifications through the APSLMP differ from land protections in other states. DEC, APA and a group of stakeholders convened a Backcountry Skiing Working Group, which discussed these issues and Backcountry Ski Trails. This process is not complete and still needs to be vetted through legal interpretations of the NYS Constitution, APSLMP and other factors before being presented for public comment.

Comment: We ask that APA expediently approve the NY SLMP Amendments for backcountry Ski trails.

Response: This is beyond the scope of this UMP Amendment and subject to action of the Adirondack Park Agency in consultation with the NYS DEC.

Comment: Supports a change in the ski and snowshoe use regulation to a standard of depth of snow to 12” off trail surface.

Response: Thank you for your support in this matter.

Comment: For trails with dual-designation (i.e. hiking & skiing) it is imperative that any trail work/improvements are done with summer and winter use in mind. Avoid using trail design or features that impair skier use of the trail. Proper trail layout is critical for creating an all-season trail that is conducive to a safe and enjoyable experience.

Response: DEC is committed to any new trail development being purpose built trails, which are laid out in the most stainable manner possible. Work on existing trails that are upgraded or rerouted will follow this practice as well. Any trail that carries dual-designation will have skiing in mind during layout to avoid trail tread development practices that conflict with skiing.

Comment: Although additional trails suitable for nordic skiing are proposed, it is not clear when that may happen. The Boreas River Trail may be difficult to both construct and maintain. The existing Gulf Brook Road provides an excellent resource for skiing to the Boreas Ponds and beyond. This use should be maintained. We enjoyed a 15-mile ski into the ponds this past winter and I hope to be able to continue that activity for many years to come.

Response: Skiing is allowed on all the trails discussed in the UMP Amendments. Skiers will still be able to ski on the Gulf Brook Rd. The development of the Boreas River Trail provides an opportunity for those who want to be separate from snowmobiles an opportunity to access the Boreas Ponds Area.

Comment: DEC/APA need to expedite the approval of the Backcountry Ski Trail Guidance Document. Backcountry skiing is more popular than ever and there is a demand for user-friendly ski trails including skin tracks and open woods ski routes.

Response: DEC, APA and a group of stakeholders convened a Backcountry Skiing Working Group, which discussed these issues and Backcountry Ski Trails. This process is not complete and still needs to be vetted through legal interpretations of the NYS Constitution, APSLMP and other factors before being presented for public comment.

Comment: There are examples of successful ski trail development in Vermont (open glades in the Green Mt National Forest in partnership with Rochester Area Ski Trail Alliance) and New Hampshire (rehabilitation of ski trails that were built by CCC and glades in White Mt National Forest in partnership with Granite Backcountry Alliance). Another example is the reopening of ski trails at the former Scotts Cobble Ski Hill on Town of North Elba land in partnership with BarkEater Trails Alliance. The Adirondack Powder Skiers Association is trying to get similar approval here in the Adirondacks, but have seen a lot of administrative stalling to date. It is time to allow for glade development and work with backcountry skiers to ensure proper design for this low impact activity.

Response: DEC and APA have interacted with Federal and State Agencies in other states that have pioneered the development backcountry skiing opportunities in the northeast. NYS Constitutional protection of the Forest Preserve, along with the Wilderness and Wild Forest classifications through the APSLMP differ from land protections in other states. DEC, APA and a group of stakeholders convened a Backcountry Skiing Working Group, which discussed these issues and Backcountry Ski Trails. This process is not complete and still needs to be vetted through legal interpretations of the NYS Constitution, APSLMP and other factors before being presented for public comment.

Comment: Dedicated routes for Adirondack backcountry skiing are many years overdue. Backcountry downhill skiing was a recognized sport before WWII since lifts were small and primitive. Marcy and Wright both had ski trails in those days. Postwar, large lift served areas developed and the sport declined to extinction, so the rigid State Land Master Plan created too many years ago has no provision for skiing other than nordic.

Response: DEC, APA and a group of stakeholders convened a Backcountry Skiing Working Group, which discussed these issues and Backcountry Ski Trails. This process is not complete and still needs to be vetted through legal interpretations of the NYS Constitution, APSLMP and other factors before being presented for public comment.

Comment: Backcountry downhill has come back in recent years – lightweight gear is available, lift ticket prices are high, and many people prefer the quality of the experience. New York is far behind neighboring states, and the mountain west, in waking up to present reality, and is doing a gross disservice to skiers whose taxes support the Forest Preserve.

Response: DEC and APA have interacted with Federal and State Agencies in other states that have pioneered the development backcountry skiing opportunities in the northeast. NYS Constitutional protection of the Forest Preserve, along with the Wilderness and Wild Forest classifications through the APSLMP differ from land protections in other states. DEC, APA and a group of stakeholders convened a Backcountry Skiing Working Group, which discussed these issues and Backcountry Ski Trails. This process is not complete and still needs to be vetted through legal interpretations of the NYS Constitution, APSLMP and other factors before being presented for public comment.

Comment: Given increased winter trail usage by both skiers and snowshoers, it’s past time to have some dedicated ski routes which will lessen conflict and increase safety by separating the groups. It’s also unfair to require skiers to risk themselves and their equipment on badly eroded summer hiking trails. Dedicated ski routes not used for summer hiking are without erosion problems and are thus better for skiing as well as environmental preservation.

Response: The Department and APA are working to develop a Ski Trail guidance document that will help with the management of Ski Trails across the Forest Preserve. Within any given wildland area there will be many competing uses on the backcountry infrastructure. As new trails are proposed there will need to be a balance to ensure the wilderness experience is not degraded as trail densities increase with duplicative single use trails. Any new trail proposals have the benefit of being purpose-built facilities that follow the latest best management practices, as oppose to most of the trail system that wasn’t designed before being built.

Comment: The baby steps now being proposed are welcome. I hope they represent a beginning.

Response: Thank you for your support on this matter.

 Comment: I support the Backcountry Ski Trail Standards and Maintenance Guidance MOU Document and Accompanying State Land Master Plan Amendment defining Backcountry Ski Trails, Skin Tracks, and Open Woods Ski Routes.

Response: Noted.

Comment: There are a handful of backcountry ski trails in the High Peaks and they need to be maintained to a width that is appropriate for skiing. Expanding the number of ski trails will encourage more regional skiers to come to the High Peaks region.

Response: The Department and APA are working to develop a Ski Trail guidance document that will help with the management of Ski Trails across the Forest Preserve. Within any given wildland area there will be many competing uses on the backcountry infrastructure. As new trails are proposed there will need to be a balance to ensure the wilderness experience is not degraded as trail densities increase with duplicative single use trails. Any new trail proposals have the benefit of being purpose-built facilities that follow the latest best management practices, as oppose to most of the trail system that wasn’t designed before being built.

Comment: Skin Tracks are necessary to accessing the landslides that make for excellent ski terrain. Many times the skin tracks are just a short extension beyond an existing trail, i.e. Angel Slides above Marcy Dam.

Response: The Department and APA are working to develop a Ski Trail guidance document that will help with the management of Ski Trails across the Forest Preserve. In managing a Wilderness Area, the Department needs to balance protecting the natural resources and preserving opportunities for “primitive and unconfined type of recreation”, outlined in the APSLMP. Once an approved Ski Trail guidance document is developed the Department will be better informed to address this issue.

Comment: Having this option will provide an option for skiers looking for an experience that is ‘less groomed’ than what they would get at a commercial resort. Having a network of areas to participate in backcountry skiing will keep NY on the forefront of winter activities and on par with the western states as well as Vermont and New Hampshire. I hope that you will see the benefits and allow the APSA the opportunity to bring this niche activity to NY

Response: Noted.

Comment: Open Woods Ski Routes have proven to be popular, as shown by the RASTA glades in Vermont. The snowpack, trailhead access, and terrain are readily found in the High Peaks and would encourage backcountry skiers to plan outings here.

Response: DEC and APA have interacted with Federal and State Agencies in other states that have pioneered the development backcountry skiing opportunities in the northeast. NYS Constitutional protection of the Forest Preserve, along with the Wilderness and Wild Forest classifications through the APSLMP differ from land protections in other states. DEC, APA and a group of stakeholders convened a Backcountry Skiing Working Group, which discussed these issues and Backcountry Ski Trails. This process is not complete and still needs to be vetted through legal interpretations of the NYS Constitution, APSLMP and other factors before being presented for public comment

Comment: I have skied in the Adirondack Park for the past four years, both at Whiteface Mountain Ski Center and on wooded trails. I can assure all involved in this matter that the two are extremely different experiences requiring an altogether different skill set, and different equipment; which incidentally can be rented or purchased in the Adirondack Park, thereby supporting the local businesses.

Response: DEC, APA and a group of stakeholders convened a Backcountry Skiing Working Group, which discussed these issues and Backcountry Ski Trails. This process is not complete and still needs to be vetted through legal interpretations of the NYS Constitution, APSLMP and other factors before being presented for public comment.

Comment: Even the comparatively small rocks on the Jack Rabbit Trail terrain require ample snow coverage and upkeep before that trail can be truly enjoyed by a skier.

Response: Noted.

Comment: As I’m sure you are all aware, post holing by hikers without snowshoes causes another layer of shared trail complications and potential injuries to both skiers and hikers.

Response: Noted. Currently in the High Peaks Wilderness there is a regulation requiring the use of skis or snowshoes when there is more than 8” of snow. This UMP Amendment extends that regulation to all the new lands within the High Peaks Wilderness Complex and increases the snow depth to 12” off the trail.

Comment: Your support of safe human powered recreation in the Adirondacks is essential to furthering awareness of and therefore appreciation for our wild lands. As backcountry skiing proliferates, enabling our trail network to support such traffic is an important step to ensuring the safety of those venturing into the mountains.

Response: Noted.

 Comment: Responsible creation and maintenance of ski trails and zones has proven to be very successful in neighboring states (see RASTA in Vermont and Granite BC in New Hampshire), as communities find a healthy balance both protecting and exploring nature.

Response: DEC and APA have interacted with Federal and State Agencies in other states that have pioneered the development backcountry skiing opportunities in the northeast. NYS Constitutional protection of the Forest Preserve, along with the Wilderness and Wild Forest classifications through the APSLMP differ from land protections in other states. DEC, APA and a group of stakeholders convened a Backcountry Skiing Working Group, which discussed these issues and Backcountry Ski Trails. This process is not complete and still needs to be vetted through legal interpretations of the NYS Constitution, APSLMP and other factors before being presented for public comment.

Comment: It is also important that the cross country trail ski trail areas be clearly defined. The exact area, the type of trails, the type of regular maintenance and use should be clearly defined in the early stages of planning.

Response: The skiing proposals within the Amendments describe the connections and trail classification. The Trail Classification Chart in the Appendix outlines the specific criteria for constructing and maintaining the trails.

Comment: The Council has submitted past comments on various drafts of a ski trail guidance document and believes that this document should be completed and undergo thorough public review and comment before additional ski trail specific resources are built within the High Peaks. It is appropriate that the Wright Peak Ski Trail proposal is contingent on completion of the ski trail guidance and a finding that such guidance is SLMP and Article XIV compliant.

Response: Noted.

Comment: We are not offering much to the numerous backcountry ski community.

Response: There are over 79 miles of dual-designated trails in these UMP Amendments, a major reroute of the Wright Peak Ski Trail, an upgrade of the Klondike Notch Trail to allow safe and reliable skier access into the Johns Brook Valley.

Comment: P.90 – Glad to hear that the Boreas Ponds Trail will be built with cross-country skiing in mind. This will allow a non-motorized alternative for access to Boreas Ponds.

Response: Thank you for your support in this matter.

Comment: Need for broadening access for backcountry skiers within the High Peaks. Most of my adult life has been dedicated to helping nurture appropriate opportunities to develop sustainable rural communities. This has ranged from developing and running a light manufacturing business that worked well inside the APA’s Hamlet Model as a way to create meaningful job security for local families for over 20 years, to my current role helping to create and promote recreational opportunities in the outlying communities in the park – to stem overuse in the High Peaks while hopefully reversing the negative trends in our less fortunate communities.

Response: The Department recognizes the ability of the Forest Preserve to economically benefit local communities within the park, through tourism and recreational opportunities. DEC, APA and a group of stakeholders convened a Backcountry Skiing Working Group, which discussed these issues and Backcountry Ski Trails. This process is not complete and still needs to be vetted through legal interpretations of the NYS Constitution, APSLMP and other factors before being presented for public comment.

Comment: To me, times have changed a lot since the original charter for the Park was developed, and I believe we need to stay relevant while still being able to ensure the most important goals of protection and expansion of state-owned property within the blue line. I believe there is also a balancing act required though, to also ensure economic sustainability of the small rural communities surrounding the High Peaks and I do not believe we have been as considerate of the latter goal. Broadening access to ski terrain on Wilderness-designated lands “checks both of the boxes”, I believe, and I fully support that idea and will help where I can.

Response: Thank you for your support on this matter.

Comment: The Board requests that any necessary SLMP amendments to allow further backcountry ski trails, as requested by the Adirondack Powder Skiers, be approved as soon as possible, and that additional backcountry ski trails be added to the High Peaks Wilderness and Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest, because it may be many years before new amendments to those plans are proposed.

Response: Noted

Comment: APSA Suggest that we distinguish the alpine ski trails—which will require wider skis, climbing skins and routes—from cross country ski trails.

Response: This suggestion will be forwarded to the group working on the discussion about backcountry skiing.

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Phil Brown

Contributor Phil Brown was editor of the Adirondack Explorer from 1999-2018. When he isn't at his desk, he's usually out hiking, paddling, skiing, or doing something else important.

One Response

  1. When the cry babies that pay Penny’s do most of the complaining, kayaker’s, snow showers,x-country skiers, rock climbers,canoeers,hikers,bird peepers, leaf peepers,and the ones I missed!
    Buy the license to do your sport like us who pay big time to enjoy our sport,boating, snowmobiling, hunting, ATVing, Sea-Dooin, trapping,duck stamps, trail permits registration insurance give me a break let’s not forget the dog sledding on snowmobile and atv paid for trails

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