About Gwendolyn Craig

Gwen covers environmental policy in the Adirondacks. Contact her at (518) 524-2902 or gwen@adirondackexplorer.org. You can also follow her on Twitter, @gwendolynnn1.

Reader Interactions


  1. Aaron says

    All for a data-driven framework but it sure seems like the basis of determining “thresholds for use” could simply encourage the DEC to impose more limits rather than (for example) invest in trail rerouting and improvements to handle increased foot traffic while simultaneously preserving the natural environment. Mr. Dawson is an honest broker and I applaud his efforts to bring metrics into decision-making, but the brass at the DEC appears to lean heavily toward simply imposingvlimits rather than implementing balanced and/or scalable solutions.

  2. Boreas says


    The thresholds for use are first based on current infrastructure, not future upgrades. Without baseline data, we may be upgrading trails that don’t need it, or not upgrading trails that do need it. But FIRST, someone needs to define what “acceptable degradation” to the immediate and surrounding areas amounts to. Ask 10 people and you will get 10 answers. Without this important metric, there is no way to determine a threshold. The Feds and other countries have done much of this work already, but will it translate to the Park?

    This same yardstick is then used before and after a trail has been upgraded. Will/does it meet acceptable thresholds when implemented? Even WITH trail improvements, there may necessarily be limits on some trails to maintain any semblance of a “natural environment”. But it makes no sense to do the upgrades until you have an acceptable goal, and a plan to get there. Otherwise, the upgrades may do more harm than good.

    • Aaron says

      I know that Boreas, as I believe my post makes crystal clear. What I’m skeptical of is how the DEC will act on that data. There’s no indication to me that the bureaucratic inertia leading to their increasingly unilateral actions will be altered by science. Instead, I believe they’ll use data on trail degradation as a means to implement more limitations and restrictions rather than take a holistic approach. And let’s be frank here, more research isn’t required to know that trails built in gullies and old surveyor’s tracks are more prone to erosion and further degradation than those employing switchbacks, turns, sloping, and drainage. There’s plenty of evidence around the country demonstrating the best practices that work – we’re needn’t reinventing the wheel here.

      • Boreas says

        “I know that Boreas, as I believe my post makes crystal clear.”

        Sorry – I don’t disagree – I was just adding my thoughts.

  3. Boreas says

    I should have mentioned it above, but the downfalls of proceeding without a comprehensive plan are clearly evidenced by mothballed shuttles, parking debacles, and the obviously unpopular daily limits at the AMR. Everyone wants to do SOMETHING, but it is like trying to herd cats. Every agency has a different opinion, and few of those opinions are based in data to support them.

    There are numerous conflicting needs that have to be addressed individually and as a whole to come up with an integrated plan. Safety, infrastructure, economics, environmental protection, enforcement, tourism, etc. are just a few of the factors that need to be sorted and weighed by DEC/APA and stakeholders. This is just in its infancy with the HPAG recommendations. There is a long trail ahead of us.

  4. Scott says

    Great news. Now the pencil pushers in Albany who only care about their job and creating an endless stream of “science/work” for themselves, who couldn’t care less about the Adirondacks and have never set foot in the wilderness can limit access even more. I can’t wait for them to shutter designated tent sites and leantos.

  5. Zephyr says

    I hope “measuring visitor impacts” includes discussions with actual visitors and other stakeholders in an open and transparent manner, as opposed to the current opaque process that imposes someone’s ideas that appear to have no logic or reason behind them. The current approach at the AMR and Route 73 was just sprung on the public and local officials, with apparently zero input from any stakeholders. Most of the public is still completely unaware that their Memorial Day weekend plans to hike along Rt. 73 have been disrupted at best, and possibly will need to be cancelled when arriving on site only to find no parking and a dangerous situation.

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