RAY BROOK, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group issued a report with several recommendations addressing overuse in the Adirondack High Peaks—and other wilderness areas—especially during COVID-19.
During the coronavirus pandemic, closed schools and downsized businesses created more free time while seasonal or part-time residents fled to remote Adirondack homes. With roughly 80 million people living within driving range, the ongoing “Recreate Locally” campaign discouraging interstate travel also increased demand in the High Peaks.
“It’s only mid-June, but the trails are already jammed with hikers and the parking lots and woods and waters are spilling over capacity, showing new signs of wear,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “All of this is happening in the High Peaks and across the Park, even with the Canadian border closed due to COVID-19. When it reopens, visitor numbers are likely to climb again, rapidly.
In November 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that, while growing tourism would be good for the local economy, it would also underscore the need for better land management: “There’s a real question of what’s the maximum use of the resources without damaging the resources.”
The Advisory Group highlights eight major tactics for preserving the wilderness, including long- and short-term park improvements:
- Wilderness and trail capacity limits
- Parking enforcement and restrictions
- Toilets and handwashing stations at or near trailheads
- Electric shuttles and green transportation
- Widespread adoption of “Leave No Trace” principals
- Better trail assessments, maintenance, and funding
- Collecting visitor information and other data
- Stronger education and messaging for visitors
Take a look at the 43-page document submitted by the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group for action plans: