About Gwendolyn Craig

Gwen is an award-winning journalist covering environmental policy for the Explorer since January 2020. She also takes photos and videos for the Explorer's magazine and website. She is a current member of the Legislative Correspondents Association of New York. Gwen has worked at various news outlets since 2015. Prior to moving to upstate New York, she worked for a D.C. Metro-area public relations firm, producing digital content for clients including the World Health Organization, the Low Income Investment Fund and Rights and Resources Initiative. She has a master's degree in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She has bachelor's degrees in English and journalism, with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology, from the University of Connecticut. Gwen is also a part-time figure skating coach. Contact her at (518) 524-2902 or gwen@adirondackexplorer.org. Sign up for Gwen’s newsletter here.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. toofargone says

    No surprise from the folks who wouldn’t even let you carry their golf clubs. The State Attorney General should sue them if they attempt to close the public easement since it’s an arbitrary, irrational and unreasonable excuse to keep out the public and is hardly necessary, whatever squishy definition or interpretation of the word necessary may actually mean. Having hiked those trails for years and years, there is not much difference in trail conditions, and still a number of trails that see relatively little use. Maybe the members of the private club have been complaining as they drive their SUVs up and down Lake Road to their clubhouse on Lower Ausable Lake. That traffic has certainly been extremely busy this year in particular, possible due to the Club’s covid refugees, and perhaps the real reason the public is even more not wanted than usual. If the current conditions would satisfy the necessary standard under the easement, then the public is at risk of losing access at any time, and the eaements are not worth the paper they’re written on. That surely would be a sad day for the People of the State of New York.

  2. Ben says

    I haven’t read anything about closing, it’s all about limiting use. The natural resources are getting degraded. It’s within the easement that the AMR can make changes. I bet we will see a cap on number of hikers through the gate a day. I hope they do it.

  3. Boreas says

    Easement or not, it is still their property. The easement allows reasonable access but clearly states that minimizing environmental and aesthetic damage is of utmost concern. But the way I read it, any closures need to be agreed upon by BOTH DEC and AMR. If the DEC agrees to temporary or permanent limits or closures to protect an easement, it wouldn’t be unheard of. Would it be a popular decision? Not likely. But if it is the only way to preserve the easement into the future, it may be necessary. It doesn’t sound like the AMR is about to roll over and allow their trails to become as damaged as typical DEC trails.

  4. Vanessa says

    Here’s an unpopular (?) opinion: it’s refreshing that someone’s going to try something here. I’m all for a pilot over Columbus Day weekend, especially since I personally cannot travel during the fall this year…

    Frankly, I’d rather AMR try to implement a test policy, and then all of us gallery commenters, the state, local stakeholders – everyone can evaluate what said pilot achieves. As previously noted, I remain skeptical that an equitable solution will be achieved that actually accomplishes an environmental goal.

    The state has a much broader mandate than a (pardon me) antiquated private property owner. Therefore, there is a lot more pressure for the state to “get it right” in terms of any limit of use. The state needs to balance environmental needs against the important ability of folks to appreciate the value of the resource by interacting with it in an environmentally sound way.

    Why not let AMR take the first pass? That way, we can fix what they get wrong, and the state does not have to make the same mistakes.

  5. Kurt Berner says

    It’s time for the AMR to just donate the rest of their land and let the public continue to use. The AMR club house would be a great out door hiking resource for the state to maintain and promote.

  6. Michelle says

    Posted land limits use of wilderness areas and leads to congested over use of land and water use in the few areasthat people can access. NYS needs to grant stream and water access to any and all waterways and all large land areas in wildness areas. The 1% does not want 99% to get that access.

  7. James says

    This seems to me to be an opportunity for the Club to do what the state cannot. It sounds like they are simply exploring options. They have the money and resources to put into place protections in a way the state could emulate if they work or call ‘bulls**t’ if they do not. The trails are getting hammered and options need to be looked at. Consider this a pilot program that the public does not need to pay for. And hopefully with responsible care, the gate will be wide open again soon.

  8. Al Worthington says

    Typical DEC trails are damaged by poor design, not too many hikers.
    The movement to restrict hiker access is wrong headed. If the Ausable Club places permanent limits on hiker access, start taxing them according to the value of their land and buildings.

  9. Judson Witham says

    The Public Lands are Forever Open to the public who own them. I would suggest seizing the trails under eminent domain and taking away tax exemptions from these ELITEST CLUBS.

    Perhaps the State and Federal Highways that allow these Wealthy to Make money in Their Businesses should be closed ?

    The Park is Owned by the People I would shutter any group or.club or business opposing Public Access.

  10. Tom Lawrence says

    They’ve already limited parking to just 28 vehicles. With all of the different destinations accessible from the property it is hard to believe their resource damage and overuse issues are anywhere close to what other trail heads are experiencing. Also, limiting numbers does not make people behave appropriately outdoors. Ramp up the education!

    • EPC says

      That’s true. The space actually has room for almost 80 cars, and I’ve been there at times when they didn’t enforce a limit. That said, I would argue that when they started to enforce the 28 car limit during covid, that CAUSED a parking problem along route 78; This not only created unsafe conditions for visitors, it made the problem of parking on 78 worse than it had to be.

  11. Alex says

    Totally agree with you. It’s already almost impossible to go hiking thereas it stands, with only a few spots available and no more street side parking. I had trouble finding my way there on a regular weekday morning last summer (2019, as a Canadian, I can’t even cross the border anymore).

    But the motor boats and trucks circulating on the property are likely cause lore harm to the environment that an few hikers. It’s just about a few rich elitist not wanting the rest of us passing through their lands.

  12. Waltonbrook says

    To be clear, the easement was not given a year after the purchase of the land by NYS. The purchase and the easement were simultaneous on May 23, 1978 (see the second WHEREAS cause on p.4 of the easement linked in article). Both instruments (the deed and the easement are dated May 23, 1978).

    Moreover, the easement was not a subsequent “gift” from the AMR to NYS. The easement is referred to as an “integral, indispensable and inseparable part and as an absolute condition of” the purchase by NYS of the AMR lands (see NOW THEREFORE clause on p. 8 of the easement linked in article).

  13. rettoeht says

    They’re probably going to get a fair amount of bushwhacking in from wherever….then word gets around and they turn into herd paths. I guess that’s what they want, if they can’t foresee that then it’s their problem. They can’t stop hikers coming no matter what they do.

  14. Douglas Gates says

    I had heard that the easement was tied to some sort of tax relief for the club and so a mutually beneficial agreement. If you consider what that club owns, land structures, water bodies, golf course, etc the club would stand to owe a considerable sum every year in our tax heavy state.
    I say tax them fairly based on the value of the property and watch these jacka**es fold up in default. I pay my taxes let’s see the descendants of the robber barrons pay theirs. When this reverts back to the state we can all (former members included) watch the golf course revert back to nature.
    I’m no socialist and am fine with things as they are now but the club has done several things to limit outsiders enjoying this area. If they think they’re the only ones entitled to enjoy this area let them pay for it.

  15. Jeffrey Peltz says

    On September 17th I was surprised to find about 75% of the parking area marked no parking. I am not convinced by the Club’s rationale in restricting the public from the parking area. Does the Ausable Club get a reduction in their real estate taxes in consideration of the easement? I think this situation needs to be investigated by New York.

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