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Old 07-04-2018, 03:31 PM   #1
Kevin7
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Why the 3500 foot elevation rule for camping in the Adirondacks?

Does DEC give a reason for restricting at-large (unofficial) camping to below 3500 feet?
I understand that they wouldn't want people camping near fragile alpine areas - but those are more than a thousand feet above that limit.
I doubt that there is any good specific reason not to allow camping at least up to 4000 feet. I suspect that the purpose of the rule is to reduce pressure on the park by just being restrictive, making it hard to camp in desirable locations, thereby making camping less attractive and less popular.
It seems misguided to me, however. Campers make up a rather small part of the pressure on the High Peaks, and "at large" campers make up a very small part of the traffic.
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Old 07-04-2018, 04:59 PM   #2
gebbyfish
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I believe alpine vegetation is stated as a reason. I do not believe the rule applies in winter, so you could always go then!
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Old 07-05-2018, 12:06 PM   #3
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You can find a lot of good information about any area in the 'daks by reading the UMP for the area. https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_fo...pdf/hpwump.pdf

From the High Peaks UMP: (my bold)
"HIGH PEAKS ADVISORY COMMITTEE (1974-1977)
In 1974 APA requested DEC review its interior management policies and
investigate ways to best implement the APSLMP. A 15 member independent committee
was formed and met over a three year period culminating in a published report issued in
1979. The committee examined a variety of issues, but its principal focus was on
recreational overuse. The Committee, in part, concluded:
!!Use is excessively concentrated in the eastern High Peaks as contrasted to other segments.
!!There was not enough trail maintenance funds or crews to correct trail
deterioration.
!!Summit trampling and erosion was severe due to high concentrations of hikers.
!!Most of the pressure on the eastern High Peaks comes from campers rather than day hikers.
!!Group use, e.g. groups of 10 or more, cause more impact than smaller groups.
!!Camping needs to be commensurate with an area's carrying capacity.
!!Camping should be prohibited above 4,000 feet in elevation.
!!Numerous public recreation alternatives exist outside the HPWC; these should be
identified.
!!Winter use is increasing; a high number of winter users are inexperienced and ill equipped; the DEC should respond accordingly.
NEW RULES AND REGULATIONS
In response to the Committee's report, DEC adopted new rules and regulations
addressing their concerns. These were considered "the minimum tool" necessary to help preserve wilderness values. Excerpted from State Land General Rules and Regulations (6 NYCRR 190), the following apply:
!!Visitors are required to carry out all refuse, trash, garbage, litter, or any other offensive material.
!!Camping above 4,000 in elevation between April 29 and December 20 is
prohibited.
!!All open fires are prohibited above 4,000 feet elevation.
!!Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of any road, trail, spring, stream, pond, or other body of water except at camping areas designated by DEC.
!!Camping permits are required if a location is used four or more nights or if there is a group of 10 persons or more camping in any one location regardless of length of stay. "

Have you expended more energy on your hypothesis than 15 concerned citizens working 3 years to deal with the overuse problems?
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Old 07-05-2018, 12:12 PM   #4
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The UMP also details effects of overuse on campsites and trails. One conclusion has to do with the long time it takes for vegetation to become reestablished on sites, even at lower elevation. While you may not be impacting alpine vegetation if you are over 3500 feet, you are using an area that suffers much more severe natural stress than the lower elevations (look at the height the spruces attain as you near the alpine zone), so the additional stress placed on an area by campers will be greater than the same activity would cause at lower elevations.

Why the need to camp over 3500 feet anyway?
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Old 07-05-2018, 12:20 PM   #5
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The current regulation (6NYCRR-190.13) states:

"(d) Camping restrictions.
In the High Peaks Wilderness Area, no person shall:
(1) erect or use any tent platform or camp structure other than tents, tarps, lean-tos, or those composed of snow;
(2) camp at any location above 4,000 feet in elevation;
(3) camp at locations which are greater than 3,500 feet in elevation but equal to or less than 4,000 feet in elevation except at a primitive tent site; or
(4) erect a tent in a primitive tent site at a distance greater than 15 feet from the official department sign or disk."

So the Department is designating sites that have been evaluated to have less environmental impact.
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Old 07-05-2018, 04:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin7 View Post


I doubt that there is any good specific reason not to allow camping at least up to 4000 feet. I suspect that the purpose of the rule is to reduce pressure on the park by just being restrictive, making it hard to camp in desirable locations, thereby making camping less attractive and less popular.
It seems misguided to me, however. Campers make up a rather small part of the pressure on the High Peaks, and "at large" campers make up a very small part of the traffic.

Wow! That's some trolling post! From hypothesis to outrageous conclusion in two sentences!


The wild popularity of the High Peaks region effectively disproves your 'making camping less attractive and less popular'. Check out the Marcy Dam-Flowed Lands Corridor and the Johns Brook Valley over the next two months to get a taste of just how unpopular camping has become (hint: it hasn't).


Conifer forests are dominant at higher elevations in the High Peaks region (with very few exceptions above 3500 feet). They provide no leaf litter to help stabilize soil affected by the impacts of camping. The thin duff wears away and eventually you get a muddy patch (where no one wants to pitch their tent and so they camp off to the side and expand the problem area). Terrain above 3500 is typically rugged and steeply sloped thereby making it challenging to find a good camping spot … and makes lazy campers choose established illegal sites located less than 150 feet of trails and water.


The simplest way to protect the resource (in this very popular area) is to restrict primitive-camping to below 3500 feet (except in winter). There are three notable exceptions where designated campsites are located above 3500 feet (but below 4000): Lake Arnold, Sno-Bird, and Lake Marie-Louise. Getting to Sno-Bird and Marie-Louise requires a fair measure of effort and so they don't see nearly as much traffic as, say, Marcy Dam.

Lake Arnold is the easiest of the three and it shows. Its sites suffer from both their elevation (often muddy) and their ease of access by incompetent campers. On one occasion I and a friend packed out abandoned gear (two tents and sundry crap). On another hike it was a trifecta of DEC violations:
  1. One group camped in a non-designated spot (they knew it and didn't care).
  2. Another built a fire (forbidden in the EHPWA).
  3. A third group was hanging food in a tree (also forbidden) because "it didn't fit in the canister".
Lastly, no one took ownership of the pile of feces in their midst.


Why bring this up? Because of Kevin7's claim that "Campers make up a rather small part of the pressure on the High Peaks".

Here's my take: campers are just day-hikers with additional demands on the resource. They do all the same things I do as a day-hiker plus they need several square yards of land to camp. It's that one seemingly small additional need that, when done the way many incompetent campers do, causes an outsized impact on the land.


Look at the DEC's list of regulations for the Eastern High Peaks area. More than half of the list concerns itself with camping directly and indirectly (campfires, bears, etc). It's often done badly so all sorts of constraints must be spelled out to minimize the damage. Nevertheless, it's still done badly and sometimes with full knowledge of being in violation.


Which brings us to the next phase. The 1999 UMP recommended constraining camping, in the Marcy Dam-Flowed Lands Corridor, exclusively to designated campsites (i.e. no 'free-range' primitive camping). It never came to pass but the latest UMP has resurrected it and I believe it's going to happen this time round. The DEC is moving/rebuilding campsites in the Corridor and that might be a prelude for enacting the UMP's recommendation.


Don't like it? Blame it on the incompetent Eastern High Peaks campers who continue to build fires, camp illegally, fail to bring canisters or keep food where they shouldn't, defecate without burying it, and a long list of other bad practices. They didn't bother to learn the right way or simply chose to ignore it. It won't surprise me if, some day in the not too distant future, camping will either be permit-based or even banned in the EHPWA.


So, yeah, camping does cause significant impacts on the resource (because of how poorly it's executed by many people). Therefore a litany of regulations are needed to minimize its outsized impacts, including keeping it below 3500 feet (and potentially soon, only to designated campsites in the most travelled areas).
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Old 07-10-2018, 07:39 PM   #7
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So can you setup camp anywhere between 3500 and 4000 during winter??
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:35 PM   #8
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So can you setup camp anywhere between 3500 and 4000 during winter??
Not anywhere. You must be at least 150 feet from any trail, body of water or water course, unless at a designated site.
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Old 07-11-2018, 01:47 AM   #9
paddles
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Originally Posted by gebbyfish View Post
I believe alpine vegetation is stated as a reason. I do not believe the rule applies in winter, so you could always go then!
Quote:
Originally Posted by cpoit View Post
So can you setup camp anywhere between 3500 and 4000 during winter??
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil View Post
Not anywhere. You must be at least 150 feet from any trail, body of water or water course, unless at a designated site.
No. At-large camping is forbidden at all times between 3500 and 4000 feet in the High Peaks Wilderness Area, as is all camping above 4000 feet. The old exception for the winter months has not applied in the HPWA for close to two decades now.
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Old 07-11-2018, 08:54 AM   #10
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No. At-large camping is forbidden at all times between 3500 and 4000 feet in the High Peaks Wilderness Area, as is all camping above 4000 feet. The old exception for the winter months has not applied in the HPWA for close to two decades now.
Thanks for the correction! I replied too hastily.
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