Conseil Adirondack thanks DEC commissioner for progress | News, Sports, Jobs

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New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos holds up a framed photo of the Great Adirondack Range given to him by the Adirondack Council. (Photo provided – Adirondack Council)

ALBANY – The Adirondack Council presented state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos with a framed photograph of the Great Adirondack Range on May 19 as a thank you for the commissioner’s efforts to improve visitor management and maintain the success of the High Peaks Wilderness Area and other popular destinations in Adirondack Park.

“The Commissioner and his DEC team have taken several important steps over the past year to improve the way the state manages the flow of people and cars, combat the negative impacts of overuse on visitor safety. , natural resources and wilderness, and providing new and better access to the Adirondack Forest Reserve ”, The executive director of the Adirondack Council, William C. Janeway, said in a press release. “We want to recognize the momentum it has created, applaud the state for starting to increase investments in a sustainable future for this national treasure we all love – and encourage continued progress.”

“I am touched and grateful to my friends on the Adirondack Council for this recognition, which I share with the dedicated team of DEC professionals working towards a common goal of preserving beautiful Adirondack Park. Seggos said in the statement. “Achieving the delicate balance between protecting the park’s magnificent natural wonders and promoting sustainable and vibrant communities is a challenge that requires careful analysis, diligence and dedication, as well as a willingness to work with all partners. . DEC is fortunate to have a partner like the Adirondack Council on many of these difficult decisions as we work to protect the park for future generations of New Yorkers and visitors.

Janeway noted that visitors to the Adirondacks grew 25% in the decade leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak, starting at around 10 million per year and surpassing 12.4 million by 2018. During the pandemic, the number of visitors and new residents coming to the Adirondacks has increased dramatically.

The Lake Placid hotels said they were busier than they were during the 1980 Winter Olympics last summer, according to the Council. Real estate prices rose as homes were bought without the knowledge of the buyer, often for cash. All of this happened while the Canadian border remained closed to visitors. Canadians often make up 30% or more of visitors to Adirondack Park, according to local polls. Adirondack communities are also embracing the idea of ​​attracting a larger audience of potential visitors by seeking greater equity, inclusion, diversity and social justice.

“We all know it will take a multi-year effort to correct some of the problems that have been developing in the Adirondacks for decades,” Janeway said. “It can be thankless work – work that comes with a lot of criticism as the state changes its operations. The Department of Environmental Conservation, in partnership with the Adirondack Park Agency, is playing a central role in making changes that will benefit visitors, help decongest crowded communities, and send visitors to other communities. who really need a boost.

Janeway noted that under Seggos’ leadership, DEC has started building new sustainable trails, while adjusting parking, adding new signage, and providing better information to potential visitors before they arrive. He added portable toilets and stopped dangerous and illegal parking in several places. It helps fund additional stewards at the start of the frontcountry trails. It was announced that the DEC plans to implement several actions approved in previous unit management plans, including improved parking and better protections for natural resources and communities. The state has also provided funding to Essex County for the hiker shuttles, and advocates are still hoping those will operate this summer. Earlier this year, as recommended by the state’s High Peaks Overuse Task Force, DEC announced a partnership with the Adirondack Mountains Preserve to pilot parking reservations for hikers to address issues of security and others. This week, he launched a No Trace media and social campaign aimed at educating visitors and hikers on the basis of LNT’s widely accepted standards for ethical behavior in the outdoors.

“The conversation really started when the governor, commissioner and state recognized that there were visitor usage issues that needed to be corrected and appointed a task force to recommend a plan,” Janeway said. “This led to the identification of several recommendations to DEC, the Adirondack Park Agency and legislative leaders who recognized the need and the allocation of new funds to a third-party, independent and assisted visitor management plan. ‘outside experts. This plan can evolve into a state-of-the-art visitor use management framework, such as those used in national parks. “

The state released a draft 98-page wilderness monitoring plan earlier in May. The Adirondack Council hailed the drafting and publication of this document as another important step towards better management of visitor use, as recommended by rangers, land management experts and various members of the Board. state task force on overexploitation of nature.

Ultimately, a visitor use management framework would provide a systematic method of determining which areas of the park are in need of new trails, parking lots, sanitation facilities, planners, land managers, rangers, educational programs and boundaries. ‘use for the most severely damaged locations, in order to give them rest, he said.

Independent surveys of New Yorkers and hikers have found that most, but not all, support prioritizing nature conservation over free, unrestricted access, as required in Adirondack Park. For example, 79% said in a 2019 survey that they would rather see a trail close to them than see it damaged due to erosion or poor conditions.

“None of the actions of the state or the public-private sector alone can expand use while protecting wilderness and communities, and there is no silver bullet to halt the negative impacts of overuse, but taken together these actions are a big step in the right direction, and for that we say thank you ”, Janeway said. “We are committed to championing and providing funds to help maintain momentum so future generations have access to the world-class Adirondack wilderness.” “

In presenting the award to Seggos, the Adirondack Council also reiterated its thanks to the Commissioner and the state for helping the Adirondacks with new funding for drinking water infrastructure, the proposed 2022 Environmental Obligations Act, the $ 300 million environmental protection fund, the hard work of state professionals and investments in building more vibrant and climate-smart sustainable communities.

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