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


  1. Kierin Bell says

    I think the caveat with adaptive management and vistor use management is that implementation has proven problematic on public lands, to say the least. It is often impossible for public lands managers to “adapt” when access restrictions are not in the toolbox (this is especially true for hiking and skiing trails). We end up in the situation that once a new trail is constructed, there will be an inevitable incremental rise in use over time. Incrementalism, in turn, often defeats the purpose of monitoring, as perceptions about acceptable levels of use shift and institutional memories fade before any meaningful monitoring horizon can ever be reached.

    The aspect of the Jenkins Mountain trail system that should serve as a model is the one that no one is talking about: its clustered design. Only by clustering trails together, instead of creating sprawling networks — as per APSLMP guidelines, in fact — can newer systems be lower-impact *by design*.

    If “adapt” and “monitor” inform the design process in this way, then I’m all for it — although, we should probably be honest that any benefits seen are really emerging from the more careful mindset that these frameworks necessitate. On the other hand, if these become another excuse to build bolder and more expansive trail networks (and all of the infrastructure that should come along with them) in farther and farther reaches of the Forest Preserve, then “monitor” and “adapt” become codewords for limitless incrementalism.

    Hopefully, if anything, this project inspires the realization that conventional patchworked trail networks (perhaps in part a relict of logging activities that have long ago ceased) are not necessary for hikers, bikers and skiers to enjoy the Forest Preserve — or, at least, more of them than we already have.

    (P.S. Great article. Well done.)

  2. Anony2 says

    Everybody wants their particular recreational activity to be accommodated in “forever wild.” But then it’s not wild anymore is it? You want ski trails? Buy your own property, and don’t expect the state to provide for you. They’ve got enough on their plate already.

  3. David Gibson says

    Outstanding comments. I am especially impressed by the thoughtful comments by Kieren Bell. The commenter shows experience with the “incremental” problem for public lands and waters throughout the Adirondacks and the country – that human adaptability to and acceptance of incremental increases in crowding and related conditions drive public land management response. Instead, management and stewardship should be driven by the land and waters planned and mapped purpose, policies and objectives – a plan that has been publicly vetted and adopted, and for which a public agency is held accountable – e.g., the Adirondack and Catskill Park State Land Master Plans.

  4. Todd Eastman says

    Between slides, open hardwood forests, birch glades, and stream beds there’s only a couple million acres of already skiable terrain for skiers.

    Is granting exemptions or carve outs for specific interests worth the altering of one of the Park’s most valuable resources…

    … Article 14 with its strong protections?

  5. wash wild says

    I am neither a backcountry skier nor a snowmobiler but I find comparing the impact of the two activities absurd. A quiet individual gliding a narrow path under the influence of gravity vs. a large, noisy machine spewing fumes and carbon, mushing what little snow we get down to rock and root and mud? What about the impact of the large trucks/trailers needed to haul these things to the trail. State officials claim to be serious about carbon reduction while promoting fossil fuel emitting recreation. Perhaps Albany should stick to giving themselves huge raises, something they’re good at.
    I have years of experience creating walking trails on my own property. It takes just a narrow path. I hardly ever cut a live tree. Mostly just remove deadfall and trim branches. If I don’t keep at it the trail disappears within a short time. Backcountry ski trails seem similar. I’ve also noticed that where snowmobiles go, ATVs often follow creating the year round impact of a rutted mess.
    Public land managers have a tough job. But in trying to appease all users they sometimes seem to lose track of common sense observations.

    • Tom Paine says

      Gee, do the vehicles bringing non motorized trail users magically stop polluting when they get to the blue line? Are they all electric? Just to make you aware modern snowmobiles have to comply with federal emission and noise standards. Also a reminder snowmobile trail mileage in the Park is capped. As for the ATV issue. You can blame the Environmental lobby and NYSDEC for creating this problem. Burying heads in the sand and stealing ATV registration dollars for over thirty years in Albany has caused this issue. Just ignoring the issue and the attitude it will just go away if we ignore it long enough is not the answer. Appeasement only goes one way in Albany.

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