Environmentalists say state needs to better mitigate impacts of record number of Adirondack hikers | WNYT.com

Environmentalists say state needs to better mitigate impacts of record number of Adirondack hikers

Mark Mulholland
Updated: August 12, 2020 07:10 PM
Created: August 12, 2020 05:51 PM

LAKE GEORGE - Roughly 12 million people get outdoors in the Adirondacks each year. This year it will likely be even more.

Environmental leaders say the state needs to spend some money to protect the Adirondacks from overuse.

This year, if you want to hike in the Adirondacks, get there early. Because of unprecedented popularity during the pandemic, parking lots at trailheads and along roads are packed.

Once on the mountain, you might encounter some trash. Volunteers have been picking up more litter than ever.

Environmental groups like Protect the Adirondacks say the state can't keep up because there aren't enough crews to maintain trails or enough NYS Forest Rangers to educate hikers.

"It's a matter of putting the personnel there to greet people, to let them know the rules, to explain how to use the forest preserve, not to litter," said Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks.

Trail use is also up dramatically on non-state land. The four preserves and 20 miles of trails in Queensbury have never been busier. Some are also leaving trash behind here, said Steve Lovering, director of Queensbury Parks and Recreation.

"It can be frustrating, but at the same time it's what we do expect on some level, but maybe not quite to the degree or amount that it's been recently," Lovering said.

To ease congestion and overuse on state land, the Adirondack Council suggests a reservation system to hike the most popular trails.

"It keeps the public safe," said John Sheehan, the council's director of communications. "It keeps the public resource safe and it's fairer in terms of access and allowing people to get a chance to have a really solitary wilderness experience."

Sheehan says he's not advocating for a pay-per-use system, but would like to see hikers reserve their time on the trails.

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