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Leave No Trace Center Releases Final Report for Building Wildland Stewardship in the Adirondack Park

Leave No Trace Center Releases Final Report for Building Wildland Stewardship in the Adirondack Park

August 24, 2020

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has released a finalized report with recommendations for managing recreation-related impacts in the Adirondack Park. A preliminary report was distributed back in February by the Adirondack Council, which commissioned the report in partnership with ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club) after the August 2019 Leave No Trace Hotspot in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness.

ADK applauds this report and sees it as indicating important next steps for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and its partners. The included recommendations call for a comprehensive management plan for the Adirondack Park that is supported by Leave No Trace educational messaging. Components of the plan include using data collection to properly allocate staffing, infrastructure, and educational programming to meet the resource protection goals of the management plan.

“ADK is glad to see that the report from Leave No Trace prioritizes education, infrastructure, and data collection for managing high use in the Adirondack Park,” said Cathy Pedler, Director of Advocacy. “Limits on use, such as a permit system, can be a valuable tool for land managers if other efforts fail to protect the resource, but without adequate investment into staffing, education, and infrastructure to manage and monitor these limits, they could actually exacerbate the problem.”

For these recommendations to be successfully implemented, the DEC, especially the Division of Lands and Forests, needs more funding. “Despite consistent increases in visitor use each year, the DEC has not seen a proportional increase in investment from the state, particularly for its staff and programs in the High Peaks Wilderness,” said Michael Barrett, ADK Executive Director. As a result, DEC staff are stretched thin, challenging their ability to effectively provide educational messaging, such as Leave No Trace ethics, to visitors while also limiting how quickly they can advance important partnership programs.

“ADK currently partners with the DEC on a number of initiatives that the Leave No Trace Center mentions in its report, including the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program and a social media working group among local stakeholders,” said Seth Jones, ADK Education Director. “We would like to see more support for the DEC and its staff so that they can further enhance these efforts and make investments into the infrastructure and personnel needed to educate and support visitors.”


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