By Mike Lynch
Is a permit system necessary for controlling the number of hikers who use the High Peaks Wilderness?
Adirondack Wild, an environmental advocacy organization, says it’s a good idea and suggested the concept in its comment letter to the state Adirondack Park Agency and Department of Environmental Conservation regarding the recently proposed amendments to the High Peaks Wilderness unit management plan.
“This huge influx of hikers and campers has been catastrophic to both natural resources and to the social and psychological carrying capacity of the (High Peaks Wilderness). Overuse of trails, campsites and summits has caused widespread and serious erosion, damaged and destroyed fragile alpine vegetation despite the heroic efforts of the Summit Stewards, and left areas littered with trash and human waste,” states the Adirondack Wild letter from Dan Plumley and Dave Gibson.
“Hordes of users eliminate the chance in many places that a hiker can experience ‘outstanding opportunities for solitude’ – one of the key aspects of wilderness defined in the (State Land Master Plan). Adirondack Wild contends that it is a violation of DEC’s responsibilities for care, custody and control of the Forest Preserve that, after failing to comply with the 1999 (High Peaks Wilderness) UMP directive to evaluate a permit system, the first significant amendment in twenty years fails to consider or even discuss implementation of a permit system despite the clear evidence of ongoing damage to the (High Peaks Wilderness).”
The group asked that the permit system be extended to Boreas Ponds and include both day users and overnight users.
In a press release today, Adirondack Wild noted that the 1999 High Peaks Wilderness management plan called for the DEC “to work with stakeholders and ‘develop the structure and implementation process’ for a permit system.”
The group says, “that management directive was never carried out.”