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Summit Stewards Reflect on 2023 Season

Summit Stewards Reflect on 2023 Season

November 6, 2023 — Lake Placid, NY — In its end of season report, the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program reported 33,421 hiker contacts between Memorial Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The program stated that summit stewards spoke to an average of 76 hikers per day over that time period—a decline from last year—on 18 alpine summits, with over a third of those interactions taking place on Cascade Mountain. The program also celebrated the major contributions of its volunteer stewards, who spoke to over 10,000 hikers over the summer.

“I want to thank our incredible staff and volunteers for yet another successful season of alpine stewardship in the Adirondacks,” said Liam Ebner, ADK Summit Steward Coordinator. “We have continued to showcase the powerful role that educational outreach plays in protecting rare and sensitive ecosystems.”

A major highlight of the season was the discovery of a population of dwarf willow (salix herbacea), an extremely rare alpine plant species in New York, on the summit of Algonquin Peak. Summit steward Katie Leton identified the plant during a botany survey on August 15. Last documented on Algonquin in 1980, it was since believed extirpated from the mountain. Its rediscovery points to the success of the Summit Stewardship Program in supporting the continued recovery of alpine vegetation.

Looking ahead to 2024, the Summit Stewardship Program is preparing for an important year of research. Not only will the program be releasing the findings of its Photopoint Monitoring Program—a key effort for measuring the recovery of alpine vegetation—but it also aims to start a new round of its alpine population study, which seeks to gauge the impacts of climate change on New York’s alpine species.

“Though summit stewards are best-known for their interactions with hikers, the program plays a critical role in research and monitoring New York’s alpine ecosystem. For example, in previous studies we have been able to determine that educational outreach protects alpine plants,” said Kayla White, ADK Stewardship Manager. “We look forward to continuing our research to determine how New York’s alpine zone is responding to our continued educational outreach, visitor use, climate change, and more.”  

Read the full end of season report here.


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