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Old 10-16-2017, 04:44 PM   #1
AvalanchePass
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Ampersand dropped from Saranac Lake 6er Relay

Saranac Lake 6er Relay was held on Saturday.

According to the official rules, Ampersand was to be included.

However, they were informed Tuesday by the DEC "that the mountain is a part of the High Peaks Wilderness and is not allowed to be used for competitive races."

Panther Mountain was a last minute substitution.
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Old 10-16-2017, 06:48 PM   #2
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The 6er Facebook Page is suggesting that the State Constitution prevented the inclusion of Ampersand. I suspect that it's likely actually the High Peaks group size regulations that prevented the inclusion of that peak. Unlike other areas of the Adirondacks, you can't get a permit to exceed the group size limits (the regulations literally don't give any wiggle room on this, even if the DEC wanted to grant a permit for this purpose).

Whoever is posting on the official 6er account generally seems to not really understand the difference between the State Constitution, State Law, and DEC regulation.

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Old 10-16-2017, 07:49 PM   #3
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Yes, I saw that in the article but couldn't find it on Facebook.

The Facebook post announcing the change from Ampersand to Panther states it was made because "according to the 1999 Unit Management Plan, competitive races in this area are disallowed".
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Old 10-16-2017, 07:53 PM   #4
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I posted the following on the Saranac 6's FB page:
Quote:
The Saranac 6er was a brilliant idea and has obviously caught on like wildfire. Congratulations to Mayor Robidoux and the town are in order.
However, there is a serious issue which must be addressed. This issue represents an opportunity for Saranac Lake to shine in a very positive light and to garner even more positive PR.
The issue? The McKenzie trail. It has been badly degraded and the degradation is getting worse, rapidly. The steep section was probably never meant to see the amount of hiker traffic that the Saranac 6 has encouraged. As a result it is very badly eroded and in many places is being widened. Collateral paths are forming in a number of locations.
I have been up and down the trail a number of times, both prior to and since the Saranac 6 concept was launched. Since then, the accelerated degradation is quite obvious.
What can the town of Saranac Lake do? Well, if it was up to me I would contact the DEC and explain the problem. Then I would offer to contribute financially to the creation of a new, sustainable trail. Easy as that!

I'm sure the town has benefited economically from the 6-er challenge.
Now, it's time for the town of Saranac Lake to give a something back.
The response:
Quote:
Thank you for your thoughts, Mr. Luckhurst, they are appreciated.

Saranac Lake is a village and not a town. Notwithstanding, it is precluded by law for paying for improvements upon land it does not own. It therefore cannot pay for improvements on McKenzie Mountain as you suggest. Further, McKenzie lies 5 miles outside the village in the Town of North Elba.

The State of New York has recently demonstrated its dominion and control of McKenzie and all the rest of the mountains in the Adirondack Park by telling us we could no longer use Ampersand Mountain for our organized, racing-type events (it still is a 6er and can be hiked by aspiring 6ers, of course.)

Further, your argument about economic benefit should be taken a few steps further in that the hikers on McKenzie…and the rest of the 6ers…stay and eat throughout the Tri-Lakes. All of these places are in New York State, the owner of McKenzie. It is therefore fitting, that the State of New York should maintain the trail, which is what they now do. The state may even, in the future, adopt a fee structure for using hiking trails, to underwrite the cost but we will wait and see about that controversial issue.

Trails throughout the Adirondacks are being used more and more with each passing year. The state, with its ownership and breadth of funding sources, therefore, has an increasing mandate to control the hiking and maintenance of these trails. We would, therefore, be pleased to pass along your McKenzie observations to our NYS DEC Regional Directors so that he and his office may consider allocating more resources to the McKenzie trail and we will also offer to help organize volunteers from our 6er Family for a “Trail Day” upon this mountain next year.
Though we may not totally agree on the funding mechanism for improving and protecting the McKenzie Mountain trail, we hopefullly share your deep passion and respect for our mountians. Thank you again.
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Old 10-16-2017, 11:27 PM   #5
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Haha! Obviously the buck doesn't stop at whoever wrote that reply!

The challenge bears the name of our fair village and we encourage finishers to ring the bell in the town square and we organize competitive versions of the challenge and we and our Tri-Lakes brethren reap its economic benefits ... but all its negative aspects belong to the state, thank you very much.

Nice.

It's like Saranac Lake sponsoring a Logging Challenge on state land. Complaints about deforestation ought to be directed to the state because, after all, they own the land!
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Old 10-17-2017, 12:09 AM   #6
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No, you went a little too far with that analogy. After all, the hiking trails are in fact intended for hiking. And there is nothing to suggest that more people hiking, as opposed to less people hiking, does not fit the plan somehow...
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Old 10-17-2017, 10:41 AM   #7
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You're right, it was a stretch but it highlights how the village of Saranac Lake is being disingenuous about how it treats state land.

Yes, the trails are there for hiking. However, they refuse to take responsibility for the additional foot traffic attracted by their hiking challenge. They are responsible for the additional wear and tear on the trails ... but refuse to because state land is just "raw material" for their self-promotional challenge.

Personally, I could give them a pass; other organizations and communities have created hiking challenges. However, others give something back to the trails they promote (volunteer trail maintenance) whereas Saranac Lake gives back nothing.

To add insult to injury, they sponsor races on the 6er circuit (they collect entrance fees, of course). Again, I could give them a pass if this was a one-time promotional event held for the event's inauguration but, no, they've made it an annual event to milk it for all its worth. Yet again, nothing flows back into maintaining the 6er circuit.

Quote:
Saranac Lake is a village and not a town. Notwithstanding, it is precluded by law for paying for improvements upon land it does not own. It therefore cannot pay for improvements on McKenzie Mountain as you suggest. Further, McKenzie lies 5 miles outside the village in the Town of North Elba.
My, my, how quickly they can find a law that prevents them from helping out. Yet for several years they conveniently couldn't find the regulation that prohibits them from sponsoring a race. 190.8.ac

Quote:
(ac) On State lands, no person shall sponsor, conduct or participate in any organized event of more than 20 people unless otherwise authorized by the department. Examples of organized events include, but are not limited to: sponsored hikes; archery and fishing tournaments; snowmobile, bicycle, horse and orienteering races, runs, rides or competitions (including biathlons and triathlons); encampments; and re-enactments.
In addition, they flip-flop when it suits them. McKenzie is "5 miles outside the village in the Town of North Elba". That fact didn't stop them from including it in the "Saranac Lake 6er" challenge. Yet it does stop them from assuming any responsibility for its trails.

This unabashed crassness and hypocrisy taints the entire Saranac Lake 6er challenge.
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Old 10-17-2017, 12:33 PM   #8
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The thread is on-going. I wrote this last night. No reply so far from the Saranac 6. Trail Boss would have penned something with a sharper blade I suspect.
Quote:
After having had a few hours to reflect upon the response offered I have to admit to being disappointed. Rather than look to ways in which the village can help alleviate or repair the situation that I laid out what I read is "we would be pleased to pass along your observations..." Right.

You state, "It therefore cannot pay for improvements on McKenzie Mountain as you suggest". It's not like the DEC would do the repairs and present you with a bill. In my post what I said was, "...I would offer to contribute financially to the creation of a new, sustainable trail". I'm sure you are not unaware that many user groups offer to and do contribute financially to the protection of the resource. A recent example would be the 46ers contribution (approximately $60,000, I will get the exact figure as soon as possible) to the ladders and stair cases on the west side of Mt. Colden.

You mention that MCKenzie lies five miles outside of your village. If this five miles of distance doesn't prevent you from including it within the Saranac 6 I don't understand why it would prevent you from offering to help maintain and repair the resource.

You also indicate, quite fairly I'm sure, that the entire Tri-lakes area derives financial benefit from the Saranac 6. Nothing stops you from requesting that they participate in future trail rehabilitation efforts.

" Also you mention that "we could NO LONGER USE Ampersand Mountain for our organized, racing-type events" Are you saying that at one time you were allowed to use Ampersand but then the state removed this privilege? Or, did you organize previous events without informing yourselves as to the regulations?

Please understand that I am in no way against the concept of the Saranac 6 in its various forms (Ultra, Relay, whatever) I think it's a truly fantastic idea and have been happy to participate in two events so far and hope to participate in the future. However, I think it's only fitting that the village take some responsibility regarding the degradation of the McKenzie Mtn. trail.
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Old 10-17-2017, 01:06 PM   #9
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I'm surprised they can "no longer use" just Ampersand. 190.8.ac applies to "State lands" in general and not just to the High Peaks Wilderness area (where Ampersand is located).

According to 190.8.ac, any organized event, with 20+ participants, that takes place on State land, requires DEC approval. Perhaps the exclusion of Ampersand falls under another, more restrictive regulation. Otherwise, maybe the DEC has simply not enforced 190.8.ac to the fullest extent (yet).

The tone of this family-friendly challenge changed when they created an annual race. I guess the indirect financial benefits weren't enough and they decided to collect entrance fees to a decidedly Ironman-style competitive event.
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Old 10-17-2017, 01:22 PM   #10
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Taras, I hear you. And I agree. But gosh I think this is small potatoes.

After all, the State has been HEAVILY promoting the Adirondacks for the last several years, in almost every way possible. (And I think the increase in visitors is great. My heart is with the well-being of the poor local business owners and workers, who rely on the tourist trade. The well-being of hard working people is more important to me than the well-being of some particular mud puddle that has gotten wider.)

So I agree with Saranac Lake that it is incumbent on the State, with "its breadth of funding sources," to make their investment in maintaining this area match the investment they have made in promoting this area.

I think beating up Saranac Lake is misdirected. You want a challenge? Go beat up Albany.
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Old 10-17-2017, 01:38 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trail Boss View Post
I'm surprised they can "no longer use" just Ampersand. 190.8.ac applies to "State lands" in general and not just to the High Peaks Wilderness area (where Ampersand is located).

According to 190.8.ac, any organized event, with 20+ participants, that takes place on State land, requires DEC approval. Perhaps the exclusion of Ampersand falls under another, more restrictive regulation. Otherwise, maybe the DEC has simply not enforced 190.8.ac to the fullest extent (yet).

The tone of this family-friendly challenge changed when they created an annual race. I guess the indirect financial benefits weren't enough and they decided to collect entrance fees to a decidedly Ironman-style competitive event.
Seems like from other postings that 190.8 rule doesn't cause the issue, it's a different rule for that particular mountain that prevents them from issuing the permit for larger groups on that mountain only (due to it being within the High Peaks area).
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Old 10-17-2017, 01:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCD View Post

I think beating up Saranac Lake is misdirected. You want a challenge? Go beat up Albany.
I'd be content to beat up the guy that turned hiking into a competitive sport.
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Old 10-17-2017, 02:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trail Boss View Post
I'm surprised they can "no longer use" just Ampersand. 190.8.ac applies to "State lands" in general and not just to the High Peaks Wilderness area (where Ampersand is located).

According to 190.8.ac, any organized event, with 20+ participants, that takes place on State land, requires DEC approval. Perhaps the exclusion of Ampersand falls under another, more restrictive regulation. Otherwise, maybe the DEC has simply not enforced 190.8.ac to the fullest extent (yet).
As you point out if 190.8.ac was the issue it would have applied to all of the mountains, just not Ampersand. It appears that DEC provided the required approval.

The Saranac Lake 6er Facebook page posted the specific issue with Ampersand when they announced the change (link in post 3):

"This morning we were notified by our friends at NYS DEC that we cannot use Ampersand Mountain for our relay as it lies within the High Peaks Wilderness and, according to the 1999 Unit Management Plan, competitive races in this area are disallowed. We are sorry for our ignorance of this regulation, the inconvenience and the resulting change."
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Old 10-17-2017, 03:44 PM   #14
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Here's the 1999 UMP for the High Peaks Wilderness:
http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/hpwump.pdf

Page 178 lists the proposed regulations. I recognize all of them and can find them as official regulations on Westlaw's site.

Page 178 does not mention a proposed regulation to ban organized events (like races). HOWEVER, page 135 does, only I can't find the official version of it on Westlaw's site. From page 135:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
SPECIAL EVENTS AND CONTESTS

Current Situation and Assumptions:
Many segments of the HPWC have been used for foot, ski, and snowshoe races, orienteering contests, survival contests, large gatherings, Olympic training exercises, and other activities of this nature. No military exercises are permitted in the unit. Such events and activities are not compatible with APSLMP direction to preserve natural conditions and wilderness character. These activities do not depend on a wilderness setting, and may cause impacts that degrade wilderness character adversely affecting wilderness-dependent uses and users.

Objective:
! Refer non-dependent wilderness activities to suitable wild forest areas outside the HPWC.

Management Policies and Actions:
! No permits will be issued for organized or large group contests, training programs, or events in the wilderness.

! Suggest and provide information about suitable wild forest alternatives for organized activities and address same through applicable Revocable Permit procedures.

! Continue prohibition on military exercises in wilderness
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Seeing that the DEC has mentioned the 1999 HP UMP, I'm going to assume the "no organized events" was codified as a regulation (only I can't find it).

All this means is that the DEC also has the option of using 190.8.ac to require a permit for the other 6er peaks lying on State land.
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Old 10-17-2017, 03:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCD View Post
T

I think beating up Saranac Lake is misdirected. You want a challenge? Go beat up Albany.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyVirgil View Post
I'd be content to beat up the guy that turned hiking into a competitive sport.
Two of the better statements on this thread!

But, I don't mind a little not-very -serious competition once a year. And, I think it would be excellent PR for the village of Saranac Lake if they at the very least hectored the DEC into doing something about that GD trail.
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Old 10-17-2017, 04:25 PM   #16
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I wonder how a "survival contest" pans out.
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Old 10-17-2017, 04:36 PM   #17
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Quote:
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...I think beating up Saranac Lake is misdirected. You want a challenge? Go beat up Albany.
This? This isn't "beating up" anyone. A massive Facebook campaign and accompanying Twitter storm is "beating up" nowadays. This is merely a milquetoast recitation of the facts.

Saranac Lake has set a precedent. Anyone can create a challenge (even a competition) on state land and distance themselves from negative repercussions to the resource. The hamlet of Jay can follow suit and direct hikers to Jay, Hurricane, Baxter, Pitchoff, Owls Head Lookout, and Blueberry (except not when they hold their annual race 'cuz it's in the HPWA).

I see a double-standard here. There's no shortage of outrage when social-media is blamed for drawing hikers to a peak .... like Cascade. Ruination by the clueless! Loud calls for state-managed permits, quotas, licensing, etc. However, if a town/village actively promotes the same thing, that's fine because it's for their economic benefit. Okey-dokey, smokey!
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Old 10-17-2017, 05:03 PM   #18
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Ok, so we should organize a 'challenge' or competition to carry in raw materials for trail improvement/preservation...

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Old 10-17-2017, 05:29 PM   #19
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Consider it done. Both the ADK 46ers and the ADK Mountain Club organize volunteer trail-maintenance "events".

Materials for larger projects (like bridges) are air-lifted to a landing zone and then hand-carried to the job-site. In this example, we carried large stones out of a brook to reinforce a bank that was being "jumped" every spring and flooding the nearby trail (photo album).


This stone is heading to the unreinforced stream bank visible in the background.
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Old 10-17-2017, 06:48 PM   #20
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I'm all for volunteer trail work, and as you know, I participate.

But there is a limit to what volunteer groups can do, and the State with its resources needs to step up their contributions to this.

I agree with Neil that it would be great if Saranac Lake hectored the State to improve maintenance of the 6er trails. Beyond that, look at what the 46ers have done with trail maintenance, as Taras pointed out. People who have completed the S6 should be similarly encouraged and organized to work on those trails.

What I want to stay away from is hating people who want to compete, or hating crowds. We need crowds! And many people like competition. As a retiree, it does not affect me too much. But many of my friends rely on continuing the increase in tourism for their livelihoods. Hating people and driving them away to restore some kind of fantasy "wilderness solitude" only hurts my friends. And there is plenty of solitude off trail, for those who actually want it.
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