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Summit Stewards Release End of Season Report

Summit Stewards Release End of Season Report

December 12, 2022 — Lake Placid, NY — In its end of season report, the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program reported 32,844 hiker contacts between Memorial Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day this year. The program stated that summit stewards spoke to an average of 81 hikers per day over that time period on 18 alpine summits, with the majority of those interactions happening on Marcy, Algonquin, Wright, Cascade, and Hurricane—the five peaks with the most coverage by stewards.

“In keeping with the trend that we reported in August, the 2022 season was busier than last year, but did not approach the hiker numbers that we saw between 2016 and 2020, which were some of our highest on record,” said Kayla White, ADK Stewardship Manager.

The program also highlighted its photopoint monitoring project, which saw a major overhaul in 2022. Using photos taken of the same 59 locations at roughly five-year intervals, stewards create visual timelines that they then use to measure the recovery of vegetation. Over the last two years, these photopoints were retaken with an updated methodology, and the scope of the project was expanded to include over 130 new points.

“Photopoint monitoring allows us to visualize how educational outreach and trail maintenance protects sensitive ecosystems,” said White. “Over the last three decades, we have used this information to help land managers make informed decisions, help us make programmatic decisions, and to capture the positive impact stewards have had on New York’s alpine ecosystem.”

A woman speaks to hikers

The last photopoint survey took place in 2015 and showed no statistical decline in vegetation on summits with a stewarding presence. However, in the years following, the region experienced an even bigger spike in visitor use. The Summit Stewardship Program will analyze this new data set to determine if and how this impacted alpine vegetation. Analysis of this year’s photopoints will take place over the winter and spring with a report expected in summer 2023. This project is done in partnership with the New York Natural Heritage Program.

“The incredible breadth of the data set, both by the number of locations and the number of repeated photos over time provides a unique opportunity to examine location-based vegetation change in the alpine zone. We are excited to be participating in this analysis to better understand the impact management actions have on New York’s alpine vegetation communities,” said Tim Howard, Director of Science at the New York Natural Heritage Program.

The complete report can be read online at ADK.org.

A group of people pose on a mountain with a lake in the background.
2022 Summit Stewardship Program staff

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