DEC wants to help more NYers experience the outdoors

New York is home to magnificent natural resources that both make our state a worldwide destination for outdoor recreation and bolster economic opportunities in our communities. As an avid outdoorsman, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recognizes that New York’s lands and waters play a vital role in our regional economies and have the potential to spur even more economic growth through outdoor recreation and tourism.

This opportunity is just one of the reasons the governor sustained the state’s Environmental Protection Fund at $300 million in the State Budget.

The Department of Environmental Conservation is committed to advancing opportunities for more New Yorkers–and visitors–to experience the great outdoors. Our new Adirondack “Hamlets-to-Huts” initiative will draw visitors to the Adirondack Park seeking a unique experience that combines exceptional outdoor recreation with authentic local culture.

Despite misinformation about what might happen on public lands regarding related lodging and amenities, DEC remains committed to managing our natural resources sustainably and promoting ecosystem health and biodiversity while safely accommodating public recreation. When complete, the Hamlets-to-Huts will provide an economic boost to local communities and help establish the entire Adirondack Park–not just the High Peaks region–as a world-class recreation destination, while we continue to protect our irreplaceable air, lands, and waters for generations to come.

The success of hamlet-to-hut systems around the world centers on providing outstanding recreational experiences in areas of incomparable beauty, where the richness of natural resources abound. New York is fortunate to have the Adirondack Park within our borders, an unparalleled outdoor destination for people of all ages and abilities.

The Hamlet-to-Hut system will include a network of traverse, circuit, and spur trails with strategically located lodging. Most trails will begin in a community, travel into the backcountry, and emerge in another community. The concept is to link communities and amenities through the State’s extensive landholdings and provide outdoor access throughout the year.

Successful hamlet-to-hut systems generally provide 10 to 12 mile-a-day treks (by foot or on water) with dry, bug-free lodging (“huts”) available each night. Lodging will range from primitive platform tents, yurts, and eco-lodges, to existing bed and breakfasts, rental cabins, and five-star hotels. Some lodgings will be self-service, where visitors prepare their own meals, while others will be full-service. The priority for lodging will be on private land within park communities.

In rare instances the only practical option will be to provide a “hut” on public lands due to the unique nature of the Adirondack Park and its mix of private and public land with contiguous areas of State Forest Preserve. In these cases, huts will be primitive in nature, temporary and self-serviced, and contemplated only through a comprehensive, public unit management planning process. These huts would include no more than a dry tent structure with a cot and mattress. The overriding goal for any hut on public lands is to ensure access and safety, with the bare minimum of amenities.

Since the creation of the Adirondack Park 125 years ago, the State has made significant investments to manage and protect its communities and its resources, including forest preserve lands. We have also added lands and waters to the forest preserve, expanding access to its beautiful lands, forests, and waters. The addition of a successful hamlet-to-hut system in the Park will leverage these investment into solid new economic opportunities for many communities and businesses within the Blue Line.

For example, a hut-to-hut system in New Hampshire has generated more than $17 million in economic activity in the northern region of that state, over $15 million in out-of-state spending and an estimated 191 jobs. Based on these figures, the economic impact of establishing a hamlet-to-hut system in just the Five-Town region of North Hudson, Newcomb, Minerva, Indian Lake and Long Lake would generate an estimated $28 million in economic activity, $25 million in out-of-state expenditures, and create or support 303 jobs. In addition to these tangible economic benefits, these communities will benefit from healthy business investments in lodging, restaurants, guide services, outfitters, and other visitor amenities.

The Adirondack Park is poised to accommodate the growing trend toward outdoor recreation tied to a growing interest in local history, culture, and regional cuisines. As active stewards of the public lands that intertwine Adirondack communities, DEC will continue to do our part to establish the Adirondacks as a destination for New Yorkers and global travelers, and home to healthy and prosperous communities.

By working closely with Adirondack communities and those with a stake in the park’s future, we can responsibly and thoughtfully establish a Hamlet-to-Hut system that will benefit all New Yorkers and help ensure conservation and support the economic development of the Adirondack Park.

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