About Gwendolyn Craig

Gwen covers environmental policy in the Adirondacks. Contact her at (518) 524-2902 or [email protected] You can also follow her on Twitter, @gwendolynnn1.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. LV says

    You need more trails and trailheads, and a full shuttle system that services LP to Keene Valley. You do not need a permit system. But apparently, the elite at the AMR have justified it otherwise. Don’t want to get their whites in a bunch, I guess. I think there is a direct conflict of interest that Janeway is on the Adirondack Council AND has a house in the AMR. But it’s too late now. The pandemic was just an excuse till they could a “pilot permit system” into place.

    • Dana says

      LV,
      I notice resource management is not on your list of must haves. A major consideration here is that the HPW is not an amusement park, it is a Wilderness Area which requires the strongest resource protection. That also means protection from overuse.

  2. Carl Heilman III says

    NO to paying for parking lots at trailheads, and NO to a permit hiking system… The mountains were here long before humans existed, and I believe that the park should be available for everyone to enjoy regardless of income. If the town wants to set up a payed shuttle from a parking lot in town for people, that’s fine… But absolutely NO permits or paying for parking at a trailhead.

    There is also no need to restrict visitor use… Many parks have trails that have millions of people use them with no problem of erosion, because they have taken the time to harden the trails via trail maintenance. Most of the Adirondack visitors only hike the most popular areas… Giant, Cascade, Marcy, Algonquin.

    My suggestion would be to harden the most popular trails, and actually INCREASE the parking at those places, instead of limiting it… That way, people who want to do those hikes can, while the rest of the park remains quiet for those who enjoy more solitude. Nobody hikes Cascade expecting to be the only one on the summit.

  3. John Marona says

    The Adirondack Park does not belong to the DEC the APA this committee or the Governor, It belongs To The People. Pay to play does Not belong here, the same people on this committee that want permits also want diversity in the park. Hiking is one activity low income people of all backgrounds can actually afford.
    Now, I don’t hike in the High Peaks in the Summer because of the crowds, But, there are plenty of hiking trails, and non trail areas, outside the high peaks with little to no traffic. (Not mentioning my favorites, thank you). That said, what is needed are modern well designed and built trails to meet the needs of the 21’st century, some of the trails we use today are from the 19’th century, and most all of them were here when I started hiking the Adirondacks in the late 60’s. Also , something I have been preaching for years are one way trails on the 3-4 most visited peaks, up one trail, back another. Instantly cuts wear and tear on the trails by 50% , a new view on the way back, and most people travel at approximately the same speed so the number of hiker encounters is minimal (until you reach the summit anyway) so the hiking experience is superior. This take time and money of course , but we are looking for solutions aren’t we?
    Every New Yorker that is past the novice stage of hiking wants to summit the highest peak in the state, and many visitors from out of state as well, don’t restrict them welcome them. We don’t want to many hikers on the trail, but we sure want their tourist dollars. We want to spend 3 Trillion to save our park the the environment of NY, well no one will vote for saving the park is they are unwelcome here, our visitors are advocates. We can’t have it both ways.

  4. Sue Horowitz says

    “NO to paying for parking lots at trailheads, and NO to a permit hiking system… The mountains were here long before humans existed, and I believe that the park should be available to everyone to enjoy regardless of income. If the town wants to set up a payed shuttle from a parking lot in town for people, that’s fine… But absolutely NO permits or paying for parking at a trailhead.”

    “The Adirondack Park does not belong to the DEC the APA this committee or the Governor, It belongs To The People. Pay to play does Not belong here, the same people on this committee that want permits also want diversity in the park. Hiking is one activity low income people of all backgrounds can actually afford.”

    Right you are.

    A paddler.

  5. Vanessa says

    Thanks Gwen for a great article! I have read the whole report, and have a lot to comment on. First, a question for the audience if anyone knows: was this written with policies tailored specifically to address COVID? Or are many of the goals here meant to be pursued regardless?

    I ask in particular due to the section about parking restrictions. This section makes a lot of sense if we’re thinking about the 2020 season and the continued need for social distancing.

    But the parking restrictions proposed make a lot less sense as a long term solution to overcrowding. I was in Keene Valley over Columbus Day weekend 2019, and yes, of course the present situation is untenable.

    But the proposed lot reductions and restrictions won’t do anything but deter *some future visitation, and not for the right reasons. Think about all the cars that will need to be towed if we’re really enforcing these restrictions! Who’s writing all the tickets, park rangers? If not, does anyone like the vibe of a cop car parked at Rooster Coomb when you’re pulling in for your hike?

    Personally, that’s not the vibe I’d go for and I feel like most people agree.

    I’ve written here and elsewhere that Keene & KV need some **targeted**, limited infrastructure. In this respect, the plan for an e-shuttle is excellent. Many kudos. And again, it seems quite logical to also add infrastructure to the Marcy field area, as there is already plenty of available space.

    I am not absolutely against permitting either, however! Others have pointed out here that such permitting would need to be equitable, and not shut out locals or lower income folks. Further, it will also deter people for the wrong reasons, and is pretty much impossible to truly enforce without a lot of babysitting of trailheads by folks who have real jobs, like rangers and cops.

    Again, cannot overemphasize enough that new restrictions or regulations need to consider the cost of enforcement. Not just the monetary but also the social cost. I doubt seriously that Pete Wilson or any other town official wants to encounter any more irate tourists, yes?

    Rather than trying to keep people away, I truly believe a successful strategy will combine welcoming people *while* promoting important social norms like proper parking and leave no trace.

    And by the way, the promotion part here is also conspicuously missing from this report. Where is this task force’s twitter account? Where’s the town of Keene’s? I am 100% serious about the above.

    • LV says

      The limit for parking at the AMR is two-fold. That is what was originally agreed to in their easement; they have been wanting to limit it for the last few years, and the pandemic provided a perfect opportunity under the guise of “social distancing” and now that they have it in place, they are going to keep it that way.

      Nothing in this report is covid-specific; they were meeting long before this started. So, yes, they will pursue this regardless.

      Rangers are the ones writing tickets. That is a ‘great’ use of their valuable time, and when that’s all they’re doing, very expensive also. It’s like hiring a lawyer to mow your lawn.

  6. Vanessa says

    Ok, a follow up comment in fairness: what I am calling promotion is being called “educational messaging” in the report and by commenters. So to be fair – yes this is being addressed and also many kudos for doing so.

    Note that some of the non-profits and other stakeholders praising such messaging are doing good work themselves in this respect. I hope they can continue to work in tandem with govt, which has the most power to make actual changes.

  7. Eric says

    The number one issue in the high peaks is a lack of adequate parking. How is cutting down on the number of available spaces going to help that? There are over 4,000 designated parking spaces in the Presi/Pemi region of The Whites and many more non-designated but perfectly legal. The high peaks has 954. That is appallingly low. And now They want to lower it?

  8. concerned hiker says

    What are we talking about here, essentially? Answer: Hiking, and hikers, mostly. What group is almost unrepresented in these meetings? Answer: Hikers. Let’s get the obvious out in the open, as usual, this is all about money in one way or another. Problem is, we’ve already paid for all of this, and we continue to pay, every one of us, whether we use it or not. Every time you buy clothing, certain groceries, or gas, eat at a restaurant, or buy anything that carries a NY State tax, that tax money eventually finds its way toward funding the high peaks and the rest of the Adirondacks. It pays salaries and benefits for any state employee that has anything to do with this forest land. Now, who is this group made of? “special assistant to the commissioner”…commissioner of what? And…DOT, APA, ORDA, “somebody from SUNY”…Business owners, town and county this and that, etc… I guess we all knew how this would turn out beforehand. The thing that is hard to understand is that they’re always whining about overuse and trail erosion, but they hardly recognize the hundreds of miles and thousands of hours of volunteer trail work. And what do the paid trail workers get? A wage that one can barely afford to live on. For some of the most back breaking work you can find. And were there ever any traffic studies done before you decided to not consider reducing the speed limit and instead levy huge parking fines? Have you got in touch with the Guinness book of world records about these fines?

    • Boreas says

      “Problem is, we’ve already paid for all of this, and we continue to pay, every one of us, whether we use it or not.”

      This is incorrect. The problem is, this has been how we are SUPPOSED to pay for it, but the funds aren’t making it to the end point. The fact is, our taxes AREN’T paying for these things, and haven’t for a long time. That is why we rely on volunteers and band-aids.

      We need to ask ourselves a serious question – “How much should we ask non-user NYS taxpayers to pay for our hobby and the non-resident hikers?”. I feel it is fine to ask non-users to pay for acquisition of state lands and basic maintenance, but I also feel users DO need to pay to play to some extent if we want more parking areas, facilities, hardened trails, helicopter recoveries, etc., etc., etc.. Lets be realistic folks. Drivers have to pay to drive, in addition to taxpayer funding of transportation. Hunting/fishing/trapping are all activities supported by USERS. I feel hiking on maintained trails from a maintained parking lot with cell-phone rescues expected needs to be supported by all users, not the general taxpayer.

      • concerned hiker says

        Boreas: Maybe you’re right, I don’t know, I don’t want an argument anyway. But I do know that Cuomo just flung three million at the shuttle system, and due to Covid, we’ve seen how deep the pockets of our government are. I do know for sure that most hikers aren’t happy about them taking all of our parking spots away and making it so difficult for us to get our hiking in, and it seems like their “fixes” are making things worse, and that hikers aren’t represented, it’s almost all government people on this committee. If they were smart, I think what they should do is build more parking. Welcome the people here and not drive them away. Spend a ton of money on new trails, because they have the money to spend. Make the people happy, and it will pay off for them in the end with all of the tourism. The tourism can’t be stopped. We’ve seen the reports of people parking illegally and paying the huge fine. They want to hike that much, they don’t care what it costs them. So instead of fining them, let them spend their tourist dollars by legal means.

  9. hiker says

    The people of the State of NY are paying the salaries, healthcare, dental, retirement, vacations, sicks days, you name it, all of the above for most of the people on this panel, most of them highly compensated. And none of us are invited to their closed door meetings. How pathetic. We should be telling them what to do; what we want done. Some of us better ideas than they do.

  10. Casey G. Jones says

    I would suggest that the trail hiking and hiker parking remain free for the areas that are free now. The idea that a person who is a legitimate U.S. citizen and already has paid federal and state taxes should have to look forward to paying to hike on state appropriated land is ridiculous and unfair. The Adirondacks are natural mountains, not a business for profit organization.

  11. Aaron says

    If the state had invested in on-the-ground improvements to infrastructure and resources 10 years ago as the marketing campaign was kicked off the ROI would already have paid for itself. Modernized hardened trails, increased parking at popular trailheads, a small network of shuttles, educational kiosks, a VISITOR’S CENTER in Keene (akin to the one that should have been built there 35 years ago), all needed to be started in 2010 at the latest to complement the advertising campaign, which by all measures has been a resounding success. Heck, the state might actually have been able to justify a modestly-priced permit system had they just invested in infrastructure instead of buying up more unneeded tracts of land.

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