By SARA RUBERG
Last weekend’s blue skies brought in crowds of hikers—and plenty of parking tickets from the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The DEC distributed 70 tickets to those parked along newly prohibited areas along State Route 73. The state created the new regulations due to congested shoulders creating safety hazards for bicyclists and pedestrians forced into vehicle lanes. In past hiking seasons, hundreds of cars lined the shoulders of Route 73.
“Public safety is a duty of the DEC Forest Rangers whether it’s roadside, at the trailhead, in the backcountry, or on the water,” the department said in an email. “DEC Forest Rangers, Environmental Conservation Police Officers, State Police, and Essex County Sherriff’s Office are working together to enforce these newly enacted regulations and keep public safety a priority.”
The parking prohibitions were also created in an effort to redirect foot traffic in the High Peaks to other hiking areas in the park. Rather than redirect hikers to more parking, the DEC is encouraging visitors to explore other parts of the park during the busy hiking weekends.
The Adirondack Climbers Coalition (ACC) opposes the new parking regulations. The group says the lack of parking will decrease access to the High Peaks among various recreational user groups, such as climbers, who are outnumbered by hikers. New parking prohibitions may create competition for limited parking space among all user groups during the busy summer months.
“Climbing, like hiking, has long been recognized as a legitimate recreational use of public lands within the Adirondack Forest Preserve,” wrote Will Roth, the President of ACC. “Based on this history and the continued use of the forest preserve for climbing, the ACC urges the DEC, DOT, State and Town officials to not limit climbers recreational access by closing roadside parking.”
The ACC proposes expanding existing lots, allowing roadside parking and constructing more lots. For now, the forest rangers, environmental conservation police officers, state police and Essex County Sheriff’s Office will enforce all new prohibited parking zones along roadsides.
Those looking for other trails can find them at the DEC’s website. Find other trails outside of the High Peaks region here, http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/116823.html or find peaks under 2,500 feet here, http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9163.html.