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. upstater says

    There is really no excuse for the lack of UMPs. We paddle, hike and camp in the Whitney and Cranberry Lake areas. All have seen increasing use, particularly since COVID. Regarding other over-used and poorly maintained areas (like the High Peaks), I’ve avoided them in recent years and prefer to have memories and photos from better days.

    The state has a wonderful resource but has proven to be a poor steward.

    Thank you for this report, Gwen. Excellent work.

  2. Walter Linck says

    Gwen writes (above): “To build safeguards in [the Adirondack Park’s] use, STATE GOVERNMENT was charged a half century ago with creating “unit management plans (UMPs)” [my emphasis]. This is broadly correct, but omitting a critical detail.

    Gwen also regularly notes in her reporting (correctly in this detail) that the APA (i.e., NOT the DEC) was made responsible by law for “long-range planning” for State lands of the Adirondack Park. That long-range planning is what those short-range plans – the UMPs (!) – were supposed to reflect and adhere to.

    In other words, as per the language and intended scheme of our Adirondack Park law, the UMPs, as plans, and – most importantly – the ACTUAL MANAGEMENT of our public lands here would have in conformance with the guidelines and criteria of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.

    Well, the DEC (at every management level) didn’t really want that, and they won the political battle over that assignment of authority, and so they – illegally – have wielded it all along. The grand result? Certainly in my twenty years with the APA in State lands work, from start to finish, one failed planning effort and waste of time after another that “you” (the readers/the taxpayers of New York State) paid all of us our good salaries and benefits for, thank you.

    Gwen has broadly covered the “UMP Initiative” failures very well here, though many levels of details can be added. For one thing, it should be known the main thrust of it was initially aimed (because of catering to politics) at completing Wild Forest area UMPs that would serve to authorize construction of that “Community Connector” class of snowmobile trails – those trails now deemed by the State’s highest court to be ILLEGAL due to their violation of our Constitution’s “Forever Wild” protection. Just to enable that, DEC spent at least a dozen years (forcing APA staff and public involvement all along) in abandoning policy ONR-2 for development and approval/adoption of the “Interim Guidelines” (for snowmobile trail management), the wonderful “Comprehensive Snowmobile Plan for the Adirondack Park,” and finally the snowmobile trail “Management Guidance” (as a most detailed, complex MOU between DEC and APA) – all of which are now abandoned as fruitless efforts, with policy ONR-2 back in effect once again.

    Other failed, DEC long-range planning efforts in my time (and there were NO successful ones I can think of) I’ll simply point to here as: the “Forest Preserve Access Plan;” the “Forest Preserve Roads Policy;” the “Great South Woods” plan (to have been just the first of five major plans for different major regions of the Park); a (very brief) “Heritage Waterways” planning effort; the float-plane lake access expansion plan (it never received a name, but we were supposed to “find new lakes” [?] somewhere for float-plane operators); the “Carrying Capacity of Water Bodies” park-wide classification and study design; and of course the “Visitor Use Management” planning effort with its sub-components (such as the apparently now abandoned manual and workbook, as well as the “pilot projects” that were underway).

    You can’t make this up.

    This article has a side box titled “Solutions,” but it doesn’t include the only viable solution I’ve ever seen proposed for managing our State lands in the Adirondacks: the establishment of an NYS “Adirondack Park Service” modeled in its bureaucratic structure after the federal structure at such major National Parks as Yellowstone. This truly byzantine, dysfunctional two-agency “thing” we have here just has to go. It hasn’t worked and it will never work.

  3. Walter Linck says

    Please correct: “would have had to be in conformance with the guidelines…” (third paragraph missing words), and “a NYS Adirondack Park Service” (vs. “an”).


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