DEC Releases Interim Report from High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group

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DEC Releases Interim Report from High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group

Interim Report Recommendations Propose State and Local Actions to Promote Sustainable Recreation

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today released the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group's (HPAG) Immediate Action Recommendations Report, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today. The report includes proposed actions that DEC and its State and local partners could undertake, pending available funding and continued partnership, to promote sustainable use of the Adirondacks High Peaks and protect this resource.

"I appreciate the significant time and effort that the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group have devoted to thoughtfully developing this interim report, and their commitment to continue their work until a final report is issued," said Commissioner Seggos. "With the increase in public use of the High Peaks, it has never been more important for DEC and our local partners to work together to protect these public lands for future generations by promoting sustainable recreation."

Advisory group members said, "The members of the advisory group appreciate the opportunity to provide input on managing recreational use of the Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness region. We believe these recommendations are a good initial step in a challenging year. Managing the recreational use of this revered wilderness region properly will take continued commitment, resources, and the support of all stakeholders. We look forward to building on this foundation in the months to come. Our goal remains to assist DEC in finding long-term management solutions, complete with a robust public engagement process, that will protect this iconic wilderness and redefine public recreation throughout the Adirondack Park."

HPAG determined early in the process of developing recommendations for managing increased use in High Peaks region of the Adirondacks that it was necessary to develop recommendations for immediate actions for DEC and its State and local partners to undertake this summer. This became of greater importance with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The HPAG's Interim Report is available at DEC's website.

Interim Report recommendations include the following:

  1. Parking Enforcement
  2. Human Waste Management at Trailheads
  3. Education and Messaging
  4. Shuttle and Electric Powered-Shuttles (e-shuttles)
  5. Leave No Trace Measures
  6. Trail Assessments, Maintenance, and Funding
  7. Data Collection and Visitor Information
  8. Limits on Use

DEC and its State and local partners are already acting on many of the recommendations to improve public safety and sustainably manage use of some of the High Peaks' busiest trailheads during the summer months. Proposed actions include:

  1. Establishing an independent visitor information group to provide relevant data and analysis to the State and stakeholders;
  2. Strictly enforcing parking regulations with an increased presence of New York State Police and DEC Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Police Officers on State Route 73 and other roads;
  3. Educating hikers on social distancing and the use of face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Forest Rangers, Assistant Forest Rangers, and Trailhead Stewards are taking the lead on these efforts;
  4. Reducing the parking capacity at AMR lots at Roaring Brook Falls to 28 vehicles and the Rooster Comb Parking Lot by 50 percent;
  5. Advising motorists about limited trailhead parking and closures using electronic variable messaging boards and additional signage on I-87 and Route 73, social media, and additional outreach;
  6. Working with area municipalities to coordinate human waste management; and
  7. Using social media and other platforms to educate hikers about the seven principles of Leave No Trace (LNT) while hiking (leaves DEC's website).

The interim report and summaries of HPAG meetings are available on the DEC High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group webpage.

DEC announced the formation of HPAG in November 2019. Group members are:

  1. Dr. Jill Weiss, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  2. Joe Pete Wilson, Supervisor, Town of Keene
  3. Rocci Aguirre, Adirondack Council
  4. Pete Nelson, Adirondack Wilderness Advocates
  5. Charlie Wise, The Mountaineer
  6. Seth Jones, Adirondack Mountain Club
  7. Teresa Cheetham-Palen, Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service and Lodge
  8. James McKenna, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism
  9. Shaun Gillilland, Chair, Essex County Board of Supervisors
  10. Sandra Allen, Esq.

HPAG will continue to further develop the recommendations in the interim report and other topics in the coming months as it works to complete the final report.

The public is encouraged to assist in this effort by submitting comments to