By Mike Lynch
The state has rolled out an education campaign that aims to minimize user impacts to natural resources while helping users plan properly for outdoor experiences.
“That campaign is to help us address the incredible amount of interest and usage of New York’s outdoors,” said State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basis Seggos, when announcing the “Love our New York Lands” initiative last Tuesday. “We’ve seen a huge spike really in the last 10 years. The amount of usage of our lands has gone way up, whether it’s DEC facilities, the Adirondacks, Catskills, or any of the state park’s facilities.”
The campaign launched with an educational session about Leave No Trace, something the DEC will continue to promote. In addition, DEC plans to focus on hiker preparedness and safety, sustainable use, and responsible trip planning.
“It’s also being smart about when you go outdoors. It’s planning ahead. It’s, of course, adopting Leave No Trace principles,” Seggos said.
The efforts to educate visitors will be done through in-person education at trailheads during the hiking season, expanded stewardship programs, DEC’s ‘Adventure at Home’ Facebook Live sessions about sustainable recreation, and hiker safety videos on social media, the web, and YouTube, according to the DEC.
The High Peaks Advisory Group identified education and outreach as extremely important in protecting users and natural resources. For instance, the DEC press release noted that, “since the launch of the summit stewards program in the Adirondack High Peaks, despite growing numbers of people on the summits, DEC saw a decrease in erosion and an increase in alpine vegetation.”
Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Michael Barrett applauded the campaign and said his organization plans to help the DEC with the efforts.
“Whether it’s the base of the trail or the trailhead or on the summit stewards, we will commit to doing our part to educating folks and getting out the message,” Barrett said.