October 1, 2016
An article in Saturday’s Adirondack Daily Enterprise reported that the large number of hikers on Labor Day weekend overwhelmed the ADK staff. Julia Goren, who supervises the Summit Steward program reported that Stewards spoke with 1500 hikers on Cascade mountain alone and over 3000 on the three summits with stewards. Neal Woodworth also pointed out that there is much diminished DEC presence in the interior of the high peaks area compared to previous years. This is the result in large part of the state being unwilling to commit the resources necessary for appropriate management of this popular area-- indeed DEC has much less interior presence than twenty years ago when a hiker would routinely encounter rangers such as Pete Fish on the trail.
Presence of authority and education within the area is critical in order to protect fragile ecosystems especially in the higher mountains. The continued popularity of the mountains presents a conundrum. We want people to experience the wild areas ---such experiences can be life changing. But we cannot let the wilderness be destroyed in the process. A more proactive presence by DEC is a necessary part of any solution.