Campsite plan includes size, group limits

(Enterprise staff photo)

RAY BROOK — A new plan for Adirondack campsites lays out size and group limits, screening requirements and a comprehensive plan for monitoring environmental and site-specific degradation.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency are seeking public comment on the plan, called “Best Management Practices for Design and Layout of Primitive Tent Sites in the Adirondack Forest Preserve.” The agencies will take public comments on the plan until Jan. 22 next year.

The plan also calls for the state to “create enough accessible PTSs [primitive tent sites] so accessible sites do not have to be designated and reserved for exclusive use by individuals.”

In several recent unit management plans for different tracts of state land, the DEC has called for the closure of primitive sites that do not meet setback or separation guidelines. The new plan affects only primitive sites and does not pertain to state-run campgrounds. The plan also calls for the formation of a study group to determine what primitive sites along canoe routes should look like.

Many of the primitive sites within the Adirondack Forest Preserve are in close proximity to roads, such as Coreys Road east of Tupper Lake or Floodwood Road in Saranac Inn. For these sites, the agencies would require a setback of at least 100 feet from the road, unless some vegetation or natural screening allows.

Some of these sites could have driveways for parking a vehicle, but a driveway can’t be longer than 150 feet and can only be wide enough to accommodate one vehicle. No camping of any type — in a tent, trailer or RV — would be allowed in the driveway. The plan also states that driveways should be built in compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act when feasible.

The BMPs also call for some modest improvements to be made to the sites, such as the installation of log benches, stone staircases in erosion-prone areas or a raised natural platform. There is no mention of constructing platforms out of lumber, but rather the state could use logs or rocks and then backfill the area to raise it up.

The plan also would limit the number of people allowed on each site. An individual campsite’s area must not be more than 1,200 square feet. A group site that is accessible by water cannot be more than 1,600 square feet, while a group site that can be walked or driven to could be as large as 2,400 square feet.

The maximum group size allowed at water-access sites is set at 12, while land-access sites will be allowed to accommodate up to 16 people. Any group of 10 or more would need to acquire a permit from the DEC.

The BMPs, as released, call for some minor changes to existing regulations, such as prohibiting camping in a site driveway. Any group, regardless of size, would need a permit if camping for four nights or more, and no permits will be issued for longer than 14 consecutive nights, except from Oct. 15 to Dec. 15 each year. That time frame roughly coincides with big-game hunting season in New York’s Northern Zone.

The BMPs also lay out a monitoring plan to determine how much impact and degradation a site is going through, as well as establishing allowable amounts of change in the natural setting of the site.

To read the plan in full, go to

Send written comments to McCrea Burnham, Division of Lands and Forests, NYS DEC, 625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233, or by email to