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DEC reminds people of common sense rules of the outdoors

Cars are parked in roadside parking areas serving Chapel Pond along state Route 73 in Keene Valley on Thursday. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

People do not come to the Adirondacks, either to live or to visit, to spend their days inside. Most folks here have boats strapped to their cars, hiking boots on their feet, fishing rods handy for a reason. But this comes with a responsibility, which is why the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued a statement on Friday reminding people to follow what they call the common sense rules of the outdoors.

“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, citing record numbers of visitors to the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. This high traffic has caused issues with trash, unprepared hikers and damage to natural resources.

“We ask for everyone to help protect the fragile summit vegetation,” said Seggos, “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.”

What can you do? Avoid crowds, park in designated areas, wear masks and practice physical distancing, and be respectful of others and of nature. Practice “Leave no trace” rules: carry out what you carry in; properly trash your trash; use designated bathrooms; if you pick up others’ trash, wear gloves and use hand sanitizer.

Additionally, there are the rules and recommendations for using the High Peaks Wilderness, which include: no campfires in the Eastern Zone; adhering to group size maximums; no camping on summits above 3,500 feet (except in lean-tos), or at “no camping” sites; try and camp at designated sites when possible, or at least 150 feet away from roads, waterways, trails or bodies of water and not on vegetation. Use bear canisters and keep your dog on a leash. No bikes, drones or ATVs.

The DEC is currently working with local partners on long- and short-term improvements to help promote sustainable use of our outdoors. A High Peaks Strategic Advisory Group has been created and has made recommendations, including delineating parking on Route 73, working to reduce congestion, highlighting under-used areas of the park, and continuing to educate the public on issues of sustainability.

For more information, check parks.ny.gov and 511ny.org for park capacity closure alerts and visit the DECinfo locator to find the nearest DEC-managed lands. DEC and State Parks websites also feature guidelines to help New Yorkers safely engage in outdoor activities including swimming, hunting, fishing, boating, golf, and hiking.

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