High Peaks Wilderness and Vanderwhacker Wild Forest Unit Management Plan Amendments Access Alert!

The DEC and the APA are taking concurrent public comments around the proposed amendments to the High Peaks Unit Management Plan and the Vanderwhacker Wild Forest Unit Management Plan. Downloadable PDF’s of both Unit Management Plans (UMP’s) can be found here:

High Peaks UMP

Vanderwhacker UMP

There are a lot of good things for climbing mentioned in both UMP proposals. However there are also several items in the UMP proposals that could negatively affect climbing.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Write a personal letter and email it to [email protected] by June 27, 2018. Please don’t copy and paste anything written below, but use these points to create something in your own words.
  •  Make sure to include these 3 general points:
    • Climbing is a legitimate use of New York State public land
    • Climbers are willing to work cooperatively with the DEC/APA
    • Don’t reduce parking. In fact only increases in parking should be considered
  • Items included in the current UMP drafts that the ACC thinks are good:
    • Stabilization of soils on cliff tops and bases
    • Provide fair and equitable access to rock and ice climbing resources
    • Kiosks with Climbing LNT and other relevant information on them
    • Continue to support and work with the DEC regarding peregrine cliff closures
    • Stabilize approach trails
    • Maximum group size 10
    • Create a fixed anchor focus group with all stakeholders, including the ACC
  • Items not included in the current UMP drafts that the ACC thinks would be good additions:
    • Speed reductions through Chapel Pond Pass (from Round Pond to St. Huberts) and Cascade Pass from 55mph to 45mph. Equip with “school zone” style flashing signs to get driver’s attention.
    • Specific climber approach trails adopted by the DEC (similar to what was proposed/done in Sentinel Range Wilderness UMP) as class III trails:
      • King Phillips
      • Spanky’s Wall
      • King Wall
      • Jewel’s & Gems Wall
      • Creature Wall/ Upper Washbowl
      • Chapel Pond Slab
      • Tilman’s & Shipton’s Arete area
      • Spider’s Web/Lower Washbowl
      • Beer Walls
  • Items included in the current UMP drafts that the ACC thinks should be changed or removed:
    • Parking removal: With increased usage throughout the  Chapel Pond area, removing any parking is a bad idea. Add more parking lots, reroute the Giant Ridge hiking trail and continue to maintain current parking.
    • Ice climber access: Removing the current lots along 73 will create a severe hazard for ice climbers who will walk the plowed road to and from the new proposed lots to the Chapel Pond area. In addition to the above bullet point, all new and current parking lots should be maintained for winter use.
    • Spiders Web & LWB access: Removing/posting/guard railing the “over the white line” parking will significantly reduce the available parking for these beloved cliffs. The Spider’s Web shoulder often has five or more cars on a busy day. These cars will use the parking at the outlet intended for camper & paddler use if the shoulder is closed. Additionally, climbers will need to cross the road to access the cliffs. We propose reopening the pull off at the start of the approach trail.

Please include any other points you feel are important to voice your opinion about. Thanks in advance for taking the time to help improve climbing access in the Adirondack Park!

Changes coming to the High Peaks and Chapel Pond

The DEC has proposed many changes to the High Peaks and Chapel Pond area.  While only a small portion of the proposal involves climbing, there are a lot of changes to the area which climbers may be interested in.

The ACC will be writing a letter to the DEC to address some of the changes that we are most concerned about (i.e the parking through Chapel Pond) If you are interested in making a public comment to the DEC/APA, there will be two public meetings on Wednesday, May 23rd
10 a.m. at DEC Headquarters, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY
or
6 p.m. at Newcomb Central School, 5535 State Route 28N, Newcomb, NY

Alternatively, if you can’t make the meeting but want to write a letter, you can snail mail your comments to:

-Robert Ripp, Forester, NYSDEC, 232 Golf Road, Warrensburg, NY 12885.
and
-Kathy Regan, Deputy Director for Planning, NYS Adirondack Park Agency P.O. Box 99, Ray Brook, NY 12977.
(We recommend sending your letter to both the APA and DEC!)

An email can also be sent to the DEC at:  [email protected].

The last day for comment is June 27th before the close of business.  The DEC and APA give oral statements and written letters the same consideration.

The complete draft can be found here:
https://www.apa.ny.gov/Mailing/2018/05/StateLand/HighPeaksDraftUMPAmendment.pdf

Here are some important breakdowns:

Naming & Regulation changes:
Previously we’ve all known the HP to be divided into the Eastern and Western HP Wilderness, with the Dix Wilderness to the southeast.  This naming is all getting scrapped.  With the addition of the new Boreas Wilderness, there is now a contiguous stretch of land from the previous Western to the Dix Wilderness.  The previous Eastern HP will be renamed as “Central HP” and all surrounding wilderness (previously Western, Boreas, and Dix) will become “Outer HP”.

Throughout BOTH HP region, bear canisters will be required during summer months and group size maximums are 8 for overnight and 15 for day use.

In the “Outer HP” Dogs will be required on leashes above 4000′, at campsites and trailheads.

In the “Central HP” campfires are still prohibited, dogs must be on a leash at all times, camping must be at a designated site, but these same regulations do not apply in the “Outer HP”.

Parking Changes and Additions:

  • Ragged Mountain will see an 8 car lot on Gulf Brook Rd (essentially where the small current lot is now) at the start of the hiking/approach trail.  The hope is that this number is enough to accommodate hiker and climber needs.  There will also be a 12 car + 4 trailered vehicle lot just before the gate on Gulf Brook Rd.  This is good news for climbers planning to access Ragged Mountain crag!

Chapel Pond is slated to see a plethora of changes:

  • Round Pond Trailhead parking size will be increased to 25 cars
  • 2 new, 20 to 25 car lots are proposed near Jewel’s & Gems/King Wall.  This will become the new parking area for the Giant Ridge Trail, which will be rerouted away from the Chapel Pond strip.
  • A day use boat launch area will be created at the Chapel Pond Outlet/Campsite area.  They plan to have 4 parking spots for “boaters”. This will likely decrease the current available space for camping by one or two sites
  • The only parking areas will be Spanky’s lot, Round Pond lot, 2 Ridge Trail lots, Central CP pull-out, CP Outlet campground, and the Beer Walls lots.  All other roadside parking (i.e. over the white line) will be closed. They will also close the two long ‘strips’ of parking on either side of RT 73 from the Chapel Pond beach to just before the CP Slab.  A new trail is slated to be built to connect the new Ridge Trail parking to Chapel Pond beach.
  • The Cascade hiking trail will be rerouted from Mount Van Hoevenberg.  We are unsure if this will effect the parking for Western Pitchoff trailhead as the Amendment that we commented on in Februrary is still in limbo.
  • Ampersand will also have its trail rerouted to a new larger ‘off road’ lot.
Camping:

There are dozens of new tent sites being proposed across the HP.  There are six new car camping sites proposed along Gulf Brook Road (Ragged Mtn).  The “day use area” at the Chapel Pond outlet will prohibit camping but we were told after that whatever camping is surrounding the day use area after construction will remain.

Non Climbing Changes:
Mountain Biking:

Fourteen miles of new mountain bike trails will be added to the west of Gulf Brook Rd in the Boreas Ponds Wild Forest.
Skiing:

A new trail will be cut from the bottom of the Wright Peak Ski Trail parallel the Wright/Algonquin trial and end at the Whale’s Tail Ski Trail.  This trail will be for ski use only.

ACC Formation Meeting Minutes

Meeting Time and Location:

 

6:00 PM, Guide House, High Peaks Cyclery, Lake Placid

 

Meeting was called to order at 6:17 PM. Approximately 40 people attended the meeting.

 

Note: This was the first meeting of the Adirondack Climbers Coalition (ACC), called for the purpose of formation and organization of the Coalition.

 

Prior to discussing the Agenda items, Will Roth and Allison Rooney provided a brief introduction and history. The previous incarnation of an Coalition was put in place some years ago to develop an organized response to the issue of the endangered Peregrine Falcon, and the interface between climbing activities and DEC’s actions to protect the species. The current Coalition is being organized partly in response to the recently released draft Sentinel Wilderness Unit Management Plan by DEC. However, the intent is for the ACC to be sustainable on an ongoing basis, to provide Adirondack climbers with an organized voice.

 

Agenda Items and Discussion:

 

Election of Officers and Board of Directors:

 

There was a discussion of the appropriate number of seats to have on the Board. It was recommended that the Bylaws be amended to include a tie-breaking process in the event of a Board vote ending in a tie.

 

The Board Officer nominees were proposed by Jim Lawyer, seconded by Dominic Eisinger, and approved by a voice vote. The approved Officers are:

President Will Roth
Vice President Allison Rooney
Secretary Tom DuBois

 

The Board Members were selected via discussion with the overall group. Each Bard Member was nominated and seconded by the group, and approved via a voice vote.

 

The approved Board Members are as follows:

 

Royce Van Evera

Kevin MacKenzie

Robert Livingston

Dominic Eisinger

Colin Loher

Ross Manny

Griff Keating

Jeremy Haas

 

Additional discussion around Board Membership took place:

 

>It was suggested that the Board include someone who represents the Bouldering community. Some names were discussed, but no specific action was taken.

 

>It was suggested that the Board include an Attorney. Some names were discussed, but no specific action was taken.

 

>It was suggested that the Board include a French language speaker, to help expand the presence of the organization among French speaking climbers. No one was added to the Board, but in later discussion, Michelle Sirois volunteered to help the organization with contacting the French speaking climbing community.

 

Ratification of Bylaws:

 

The draft Bylaws were discussed. The draft Bylaws had been posted for some time on the ACC website, so all present had an opportunity to review them.

 

The draft Bylaws were approved with the following amendments:

 

>The maximum number of Board members is changed to 13 from 12.

 

>The summary sentence under Article 5. Committees is edited to include the Peregrine Monitoring Committee.

 

(As noted above, during earlier discussion it was recommended that the Bylaws be amended to include a tie-breaking process in the event of a Board vote ending in a tie. No specific action was taken at this meeting to amend the Bylaws to include this povision.)

 

The Bylaws were approved by a voice vote.

 

 

 

Discussion of Committees:

 

Four Standing Committees and Committee Chairs were identified:

 

Trail Work Mark Scott
Public Outreach and Education Colin Loher
Responsible Fixed Anchor (Board + Jim Lawyer)
Peregrine Monitoring Royce Van Evera / Robert “Doc” Livingston

 

These were approved via discussion with the overall group.

 

Discussion of Upcoming Trail Work Projects:

 

For the Giant and Dix Wilderness Areas, DEC has approved the carrying out of maintenance on “Climbers Trails.” These trails will still not be shown in the UMP or on official maps as “trails,” but are approved for maintenance work. The first project is expected to be erosion prevention and stabilization at Spanky’s Wall. The DEC will provide resources to assist in this project. Project dates are to be determined.

 

There was discussion that the climbers’ trails in the Sentinel Wilderness may become recognized in the UMP as “official” trails, which will put them in a somewhat different category from the trails in Giant and Dix. More information on this will be developed going forward.

 

There was discussion of a “different color” trail marker to be potentially used for recognized climbers’ trails. Again, more information on this will be developed going forward.

 

Discussion of Trail Etiquette:

The group recognizes the importance of sharing resources with other user groups. Specifically, it was noted that skiers and climbers share the Jackrabbit Trail in Keene. The Coalition requests that all climbing users of the Jackrabbit Trail wear skis or snowshoes during winter use and avoid damaging the ski tracks.

 

 

The meeting was adjourned at approximately 7:30 PM.