What made these new lands different from most others, though, was undoubtedly the fact they were already occupied by hundreds of hunting camps. This was not simply opening up vast acreages of forest that had been previously denied to the public-at-large, but driving out the leaseholders who were already there. One can rightly argue that as public lands they will serve more people and provide all sorts of wilderness-based benefits, but I’m sure it still stings for the minority who find themselves at the losing end of the equation.
Part 2 of 4 The Laws of 1895 authorized the state to lay out paths in the newly created Adirondack Park. There is little evidence that anything was done at that time. In 1909 Governor Hughes advocated trails and roads to give greater access to the “mountain pleasure grounds.” As it turned out, recreational trail building by the state began a few years later, not because of Hughes’ plans, but in a rather circuitous way.
Part 1 of 4 Hindsight is wonderful! With what we know about the Adirondacks today and what we know about building trails, we could devise the most wonderful trail network, one that would protect the fragile slopes of the High Peaks, take hikers to mountaintops all around the Park, and ameliorate problems of overuse and under-use.
When I moved to Upstate New York in 2013, acquaintances kept telling me about the Adirondacks, how magical they are, with their steep-sided mountains and layers of forest, mirror-calm lakes and clear-flowing creeks; bears, moose, loons. Having lived most of my adult life in the West and coming to New York from interior Alaska, I was skeptical, but hopeful. Could there really be such a large protected area in the Eastern U.S.?
To figure out solutions to protecting the High Peaks Wilderness, first we need to fully understand what is threatening it on an ecological and social basis. Those threats might include some aspects of high use, such as improper disposal of human waste and trail erosion in sensitive habitats, but if we choose to only focus on these impacts we run the risk of fixing a leak in a dam that is about to burst.
In the inaugural Wilderness Webinar, AWA Board member and High Peaks Advisory Group (HPAG) member Pete Nelson will talk about the recently released HPAG Final Report. Nelson will give a brief overview of the most important topics both in the report and in the actions taken since its release, then save the bulk of the hour for what is likely to be a lively question and answer session.