The Adirondack Council is calling on New York to fund park protections and infrastructure to match the state’s success in drawing tourists to the Adirondacks.
The Council released its annual “State of the Park” report on Tuesday, and spokesman John Sheehan explained its priorities during a live Twitter video session on Wednesday. He called on the state to increase its $300 million Environmental Protection Fund, rebuild conservation agency staffs that were slashed during the Great Recession, and build the trails and trailhead amenities to better handle surging crowds. The park should limit use with a permit or reservation system in some areas, he said, and encourage visitors to enjoy less-crowded areas.
“We need to learn from the places in the world that are actually doing a good job of managing crowds,” Sheehan said.
The state needs to redesign or relocate 130 miles of poorly built High Peaks routes, Sheehan said, and to provide lined and numbered parking spots and sanitation for hikers. As visitation has risen by more than 2 million people a year in the last decade, he said, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency need to reverse staffing cuts that have taken them below their 1980s numbers.
The Council also seeks a forest preserve ban on off-road vehicles, a law mandating conservation design for subdivisions in the park, and mandatory boat inspections to prevent the spread of invasive species, among other initiatives. It will push for those priorities in the next legislative session.
“(Priority) Number One is going to be defending wilderness,” Sheehan said.
The Council’s report, subtitled “Challenged by Success,” is available online at its website.