DEC reminds hikers to use common sense when out on the trail


NEW YORK STATE (NEWS10) — The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Friday reminded hikers and other visitors to the High Peaks Wilderness to follow common-sense rules and recommendations in order to protect public safety and the sensitivity of plants and wildlife.

The DEC says these measures are in place to promote a shared respect for the resources, as well as respect for other visitors and the workers and volunteers tasked with protecting the Adirondacks, Catskills, and the forests, trails, lakes, and rivers across the State.

“New York’s wild places draw visitors from across the state and country, and it is crucial that we continue to provide safe, sustainable access,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “With more people looking to recreate locally during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen incredible increases in use throughout the state. We ask for everyone to help protect the fragile summit vegetation by hiking prepared, packing out your litter, treating each other with respect, and educating these new outdoor enthusiasts to the common sense rules of the outdoors.” 

The Adirondacks reportedly contain some of New York’s rarest plants which visitors can encounter when on the State’s high peaks. In order to protect this ecosystem, DEC reminds visitors to the High Peaks Wilderness of these rules and recommendations that include the following:

  • No campfires in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness
  • Group Size Maximums: Day Trip maximums are 15 people. Overnight maximums are 8 people. Permits for oversized groups are not available in the High Peaks Wilderness
  • No camping on summits
  • No camping above 3,500 feet (except at lean-to)
  • No camping in areas with “No Camping” signs present
  • Whenever possible, camp in designated sites. If necessary, at-large camping is permitted as long as campsites are at least 150 feet from any road, trail, water body, or waterway. Place your tent on a durable surface, such as hardened soil, leaf litter, or pine duff. Do not place your tent on vegetation.
  • Bear canisters are required for all overnight campers in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness
  • Carry out what you carry in. Properly dispose of waste and pack out all gear and garbage. Do not leave waste at trailheads.
  • Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness and at trailheads, campsites and above 4,000 feet everywhere else. If accessing the High Peaks from the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) trailheads, dogs are not allowed on AMR property.
  • Bikes are prohibited
  • Drones are prohibited
  • ATVs are prohibited
  • No fixed anchors for climbing on Forest Preserve at this time
  • Adirondack Mountain Reserve-specific rules for this property include no camping, no dogs, no drones, and no off-trail travel. 

DEC also reminds visitors to make sure they pick up any litter or trash that is brought along to show respect to fellow New Yorkers and the environment. Litter is both an eyesore and poses a danger to local wildlife and delicate ecosystems. DEC encourages visitors to the State’s natural areas and facilities to keep New York’s environment clean by properly throwing away waste. Here are some tips to Leave No Trace:

  1. Carry out what you carry in. Don’t leave trash, food, gear, or any other personal belongings behind.
  2. Trash your trash. Use designated receptacles when available or carry your trash in a small bag so you can throw it out at home. Never put trash in outhouses or porta-potties.
  3. Use designated bathroom facilities when available. If traveling, use the rest areas closest to your destination before you arrive. Learn how to dig a cat hole(leaves DEC website) and properly dispose of your human waste for the times when nature calls and a bathroom is not available.
  4. During the COVID-19 public health crisis, take extra precautions when picking up trash you find on the trail. Wear gloves and make sure to hand sanitize when you are done. 

Take the Pledge to PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL: Enjoy the Outdoors Safely and Responsibly

  1. I pledge to respect the rules and do my part to keep parks, beaches, trails, boat launches, and other public spaces safe for everyone.
  2. I will stay local and close to home.
  3. I will maintain a safe distance from others outside of my household.
  4. I will wear a mask when I cannot maintain social distancing.
  5. accept that this summer, I may have to adjust how I enjoy the outdoors to help keep myself and others healthy and safe, even if it means changing my plans to visit a public space.
  6. I will be respectful of others by letting them pass by me if needed on a trail and keeping my blanket ten feet apart from others on the beach.
  7. I will move quickly through shared areas like parking lots, trailheads, and scenic areas to avoid crowding.
  8. If I’m not feeling well, I will stay home. 

For additional information visit the DEC website here.

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