VIDEO: Ecological Impacts of Overuse in the Adirondacks

The Adirondack Park, Forever Wild

New York’s Adirondack Park is a world-class conservation achievement.  It was created in 1892 by New York State. It contains six-million acres, and is the largest park in the contiguous United States. The Adirondacks are protected “Forever Wild” under Article XIV of the New York State Constitution. This means that the public land is constitutionally protected from being sold or leased by the state. 

It’s home to 87 rare, threatened and endangered species, most of the old growth forest -- and 90 percent of the motor-free wilderness -- remaining in the Northeast.

Increase in Use, Resources Stay the Same

Visitation has more than doubled at some of the most popular destinations in the ParkThere has been a nearly 300% increase in the number of registered hikers at the Adirondack Loj, Cascade and AuSable Club trailheads since the 1970s. Park visitation has soared to 12.4 million people per year, an increase of 500,000 people since 2016. Resources for management and protection have not increased. Forest Rangers are now responsible for on average patrolling 25,056 more acres than in the 1970s and averaging more than 350 rescue operations per year. 

Ecological Damage

Visitors who don’t know the best Leave No Trace practices can unintentionally damage the forests and waters we all love. Hikers on worn-out, too steep and poorly maintained trails cause erosion and water pollution. Redesign, reconstruction and hardening of trails is needed so hikers can enjoy trails without damaging nearby vegetation and harming water sources. Improper disposal of human waste has been shown to pollute streams with E. coli bacteria 

Other popular destinations such as the Franconia Ridge in New Hampshire or our National Parks teach us that these negative impacts can be greatly reduced through education, adding more rangers and other staff, infrastructure, visitor management and planning.  

What's Next?

Steps have been takenNew York State Governor Cuomo and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) have announced the formation of a task force to help create a comprehensive plan to address overuse and preserve Wilderness in the High Peaks region. New York needs new investments in wilderness protection to preserve this National Treasure.  The time to act and invest in preserving the Adirondacks for future generations is now. 


Sign the petition calling on New York State to protect Adirondack wildlands and waters from overuse.  

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