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. Pete says

    Enough with development dollars thrown at Whiteface (Lake Placid) and Gore (North Creek) which are both already major ski area that draw tourist business. How about some economic development in the smaller towns that are hurting? A relatively small investment compared to new trails at Whiteface or Gore could have a big impact. A key component of this would be simply finding a way to let the towns take advantage of the huge amount of state “park” land that hems them in. Also all the working timberlands on which we the people have purchased recreational easements. Snowmobile trails are the obvious example, but also cross country ski trails that can be groomed, mountain bike trails, etc.

    • Boreas says

      I agree – taxpayer dollars could likely be better spent. Still waiting for the road into Boreas Ponds to fully open after the storm damage! ORDA has a lot of weight in Albany and I don’t see this changing. Part of the argument for more and better trails is trying to keep the State ski centers competitive with VT and other states, which makes sense.

    • Boreas says

      ORDA doesn’t provide much of a response on the issue (see bottom). Comments from the proposal:

      Comment B1: Protect the Adirondacks has a number of concerns regarding the Olympic Regional Development
      Authority’s (“ORDA”) newly proposed Draft Unit Management Plan (“UMP”) Amendment for the Whiteface
      Mountain Intensive Use Area (the “UMP Amendment”). Protect the Adirondacks believes ORDA’s plans violate
      Article 14 of the State Constitution, the forever wild clause, in a number of areas — new downhill mountain
      bike trails, high elevation “lift-serviced hiking trails,” and “lift-serviced mountain bike trails.” We’re also
      concerned about plans for new alpine ski trails and widening existing trails because it appears that ORDA is
      close to the constitutional limits on ski trails.
      Please find below PROTECT’s comments on a series of issues with the UMP Amendment.
      ORDA’s Compliance with Article 14 at Whiteface Mountain: Our review of the UMP Amendment finds that
      ORDA’s plans to build a downhill mountain biking trail network would violate the Constitution and its overall
      alpine ski trail construction and widening plans would strain the UMP’s constitutional compliance. The
      Whiteface Mountain Ski Center is on Forest Preserve land, which is protected under Article 14, Section 1 of the
      NYS Constitution. The Ski Center was constructed, and operates to this day, under a 1941 constitutional
      amendment that authorized construction of ski trails and “appurtenances thereto”, for the purpose of creating
      a downhill ski area, which otherwise would have been prohibited by Article 14.The 1941 Whiteface
      amendment did not authorize any other type of construction.
      Article 14, Section 1, the forever wild provision, of the NYS Constitution is a covenant between the governed
      and their government for the management of the Forest Preserve, one of the greatest public land systems in
      the United States. Major decisions for the Forest Preserve are not to be made unilaterally by state government
      leaders or state agencies, but are to be directly made by the People of the State of New York. Article 14,
      Section 1 states “The lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as
      now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be
      taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.”
      Article 14, Section 1 was amended by the People of the State of New York in 1941 to authorize “constructing
      and maintaining not more than twenty-five miles of ski trails thirty to two hundred feet wide, together with
      appurtenances thereto, provided that no more than five miles of such trails shall be in excess of one hundred
      twenty feet wide, on the north, east and northwest slopes of Whiteface Mountain in Essex County.” In 1987,
      the People approved a second amendment that limits the total amount of trails at Whiteface that are more
      than 120 feet wide, but less than 200 feet wide, to less than 5 miles.
      When the People approved the amendment for the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in 1941, and approved the
      1987 amendment, they did so to approve a downhill alpine ski area and not a summertime amusement park.

      Response: ORDA has reviewed these comments and believes that the proposed management actions are
      consistent with the authorization provided by Article 14 of the Constitution Furthermore, nothing in the
      amendment precludes public access to Whiteface outside of the winter months.

  2. Todd Eastman says

    Every line of the proposal needs to be reviewed in detail so this doesn’t become just another carve-out from the guts of Art. 14.

    As so much is purportedly based on the FIS homologation standards for race trails, it would make sense to begin pressuring the FIS to stop demanding specs that destroy the natural setting of the sites where sanctioned races are conducted.

  3. plow boy says

    Okay to slice up Whiteface but to make a snowmobile community connector trail
    Oh my how could one get enough political pull(constitional amendment) for something that might pay some local folks bills is a green lobby political nightmare

    • Tom Paine says

      You are correct. Article 14 issues are decided by the number of lawyers and political clout you have in the Albany cesspool. More lawyers, more clout, more money and you win. What an absolute charade.

  4. Travelin says

    Great to see ORDA embrace additional recreational activities. While I can respect the interest in preserving the forest I also believe without the correct infastructure more and more illegal trails would be built resulting in a much larger problem. I fully support the construction of a mountain bike trail network.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *