By Kayla White, Stewardship Manager
In its 32nd year, the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program has adapted and continued to protect the alpine ecosystem while expanding its outreach through new avenues. With changing state and federal guidelines and an increased understanding of the pandemic, we were able to safely hire a full crew of five summit stewards and one Photopoint Monitoring Field Tech. Exciting new changes this year include revamping our photopoint monitoring methodology and facilitating fire tower stewardship on Hurricane Mountain to increase our educational outreach
Summit stewards educated 28,514 hikers this year, making our total contacts since the start of the program 613,998. Hiker contact numbers decreased significantly, not because of limited staff or coverage, but because of a decrease in visitors to the High Peaks. In July and August, the average number of daily hiker contacts between 2020 and 2021 on Algonquin dropped from 87 to 55 and the average on Marcy decreased from 111 to 72. That means there was approximately 35 less hikers a day on average on Marcy and Algonquin than last year.
Algonquin average contacts haven’t been that low since 2004 and Marcy hasn’t been that low since 2008. We can attribute part of this decrease to the Canadian border closure. Another potential factor was the weather. We’ll have to wait and see if this year is an anomaly (much like last year) and if we are seeing similar trends in other areas in the Northeast. Regardless, we continue to look for ways to better educate the public on resource protection and hiker preparedness, increase our understanding of the alpine ecosystem, and provide better quality trail maintenance.
To learn more about the Summit Stewardship Program’s impact this year, please see our full end of season report. Our accomplishments were made possible through the continuous support of our partners, donors, sponsors, and people like you. A huge thank you goes to the following supporters:
- Adirondack 46ers
- The Waterman Fund
- Helen and Ritter Shumway Foundation Grant
- FEMC’s Ecosystem Monitoring Fund
- Dr. Norton G. Miller Memorial Fund
- #507 Fund for the Summit Stewardship Program
- The Mountaineer
- Darn Tough
- NYS Park and Trail Partnership Grants
- NYS Environmental Protection Fund