The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group’s (HPAG) Immediate Action Recommendations Report. The report includes proposed actions that DEC and its State and local partners could undertake, pending available funding and continued partnership, to promote sustainable use of the Adirondacks High Peaks and protect the resource from increased usage.
Advisory group members said, “The members of the advisory group appreciate the opportunity to provide input on managing recreational use of the Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness region. We believe these recommendations are a good initial step in a challenging year. Managing the recreational use of this revered wilderness region properly will take continued commitment, resources, and the support of all stakeholders. We look forward to building on this foundation in the months to come. Our goal remains to assist DEC in finding long-term management solutions, complete with a robust public engagement process, that will protect this iconic wilderness and redefine public recreation throughout the Adirondack Park.”
The HPAG determined early in the process of developing recommendations for managing increased use in High Peaks region of the Adirondacks that it was necessary to develop recommendations for immediate actions for DEC and its State and local partners to undertake this summer. This became of greater importance with the onset of the ongoing pandemic.
Interim Report recommendations include the following:
- Parking Enforcement
- Human Waste Management at Trailheads
- Education and Messaging
- Shuttle and Electric Powered-Shuttles (e-shuttles)
- Leave No Trace Measures
- Trail Assessments, Maintenance, and Funding
- Data Collection and Visitor Information
- Limits on Use
Proposed actions include:
Establishing an independent visitor information group to provide relevant data and analysis to the State and stakeholders;
Strictly enforcing parking regulations with an increased presence of New York State Police and DEC Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Police Officers on State Route 73 and other roads;
Educating hikers on social distancing and the use of face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Forest Rangers, Assistant Forest Rangers, and Trailhead Stewards are taking the lead on these efforts;
Reducing the parking capacity at AMR lots at Roaring Brook Falls to 28 vehicles and the Rooster Comb Parking Lot by 50 percent;
Advising motorists about limited trailhead parking and closures using electronic variable messaging boards and additional signage on I-87 and Route 73, social media, and additional outreach;
Working with area municipalities to coordinate human waste management; and
Using social media and other platforms to educate hikers about the seven principles of Leave No Trace (LNT) while hiking.
The HPAG’s Interim Report is available at DEC’s website. Summaries of HPAG meetings are available on the DEC High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group webpage.
DEC announced the formation of HPAG in November 2019. Group members are:
Dr. Jill Weiss, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Joe Pete Wilson, Supervisor, Town of Keene
Rocci Aguirre, Adirondack Council
Pete Nelson, Adirondack Wilderness Advocates
Charlie Wise, The Mountaineer
Seth Jones, Adirondack Mountain Club
Teresa Cheetham-Palen, Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service and Lodge
James McKenna, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism
Shaun Gillilland, Chair, Essex County Board of Supervisors
Sandra Allen, Esq.
HPAG is expected to continue to further develop the recommendations in the interim report and other topics in the coming months as it works to complete the final report.
The public is encouraged to assist in this effort by submitting comments to Info.R5@dec.ny.gov.