It’s always a hot topic of conversation – get the latest info on recommendations for preserving, protecting, and maintaining the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks, following a period of unusually high visitors to the area.
The High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group (HPAG), a committee formed by the DEC in November of 2019, has submitted its final report on promoting sustainable recreation in the Adirondacks to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. The 55-page report covers a lot of ground, including recommendations for “immediate and chronic” issues as well as long-term problems.
“With the growing uptick in visitors to the High Peaks region, compounded this past summer by New Yorkers desperate to get outside as a respite from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical that the DEC and our partners work together to protect these irreplaceable lands for future generations by promoting sustainable recreation, supporting local communities, and improving the visitor experience,” Seggos said in a statement.
Recommendations for Waste Management & Additional Issues
Many of the report’s recommendations underline existing DEC efforts. Suggestions include:
- Creating a hiker permit system
- Implementing a strategic plan for visitor use management
- Increasing the number of forest rangers and stewards
- Educating hikers in person and via social media on Leave No Trace
- Advising motorists about limited trailhead parking via signage and more
- Continuing to work on implementing a pilot shuttle service along Route 73
- Working with area municipalities to coordinate human waste management
Waste management, for example, is particularly an issue in the winter, when one cannot dig a cat hole and must carry their waste out. “Enhancement of DEC’s sponsorship of portable toilets, including for winter use” and alternatives to portable toilets are being discussed. A couple of issues with them is that some are only available in the summer, and many are located in areas that are susceptible to flooding.
These issues highlighted above serve as a condensed overview of the many topics of discussion covered in the full report which you can check out here.
Although the massive report can seem daunting, HPAG approaches with an optimistic, yet realistic outlook. They acknowledge that while the pandemic resulted in unprecedented use on High Peaks trails, and that this high volume is likely to only increase, they also see the situation is offering an “opportunity for increased and more diverse visitors to appreciate this area.”
If you’re planning on heading out there, check out recommendations on hiking during mud season, and bookmark the Around the Region blog to check out weekly hiking conditions and updates. Hike smart, leave no trace, and help protect this incredible region we all love!