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Confused about high peaks regulations

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  • Confused about high peaks regulations

    Hi found this on
    2020 High Peaks Wilderness Regulations Fact Sheet

    And this on the DEC site:
    High Peaks Wilderness Complex

    ADK says camping at designated tent sites or lean-tos only in Central High Peaks Zone
    DEC says at-large camping is permitted in the entire High Peaks Wilderness
    Which is accurate?

    ADK says bear canisters required when camping (May - October) in the entire High Peaks Wilderness
    DEC says bear canisters are required for all overnight campers only in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness
    Which is accurate?

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    I’m sure others will comment. I’d go with what’s on the DEC site as they are the Dept with the responsibility for it.


    • #3
      I think the best thing to do is call DEC and ask. Sometimes DEC Regs are confusing and often misunderstood.


      • #4
        DEC is responsible for enforcing the laws passed by state legislators, So take your info from them. The Adirondack mountain club is just that, a club. They have no teeth to dictate any behavior.


        • #5
          The DEC info is correct.

          In 2019, the DEC announced that changes were coming to the High Peaks regs- with a planned implementation date for the new regs of 2020. The DEC embarked on an educational campaign, aided by the ADK, to make hikers and backpackers aware of the new regs before they were implemented and enforceable. The link you found on the ADK's website is part of that educational outreach attempt. However, 2020 came and went without the new regs being in place. Currently, the DEC still plans to implement the new regs at some point in the future, but there is no set deadline as of yet that has been publicly communicated for when the new regs will be in place.

          So in short- the DEC link accurately communicates the current regs, whereas the info on the ADK page communicates future planned regs (albeit with an incorrect date for when they will be in place).

          As it stands:
          • Dispersed camping in compliance with the so-called "150 foot rule" is still permitted across the entire High Peaks Wilderness at any location below 3,500 feet in elevation. There is an existing regulation that prohibits dispersed camping in the "South Meadows-Flowed Lands Corridor" (including Marcy Dam and Lake Colden), but it has a pesky qualifier- "provided that this section shall not be effective until such time as the department completes its designation of such campsites within such corridor." At present, the DEC has never declared that the designation of such campsites within such corridor has been completed, and accordingly this regulation is not currently being enforced.
          • Bear Canisters are currently only required in the Eastern High Peaks zone, and the old dates (April 1-November 30) apply.
          To further add to the confusion, the DEC currently uses the new "Central" and "Outer" zones from an internal management standpoint, but from an external standpoint with regards to what behaviors the public can and can't engage in, the old "Eastern" and "Western" zones still apply. Somewhat counterintuitively, much of the eastern-most portion of the present day High Peaks Wilderness (the Boreas Ponds tract and the former Dix Mountain Wilderness) is part of the "Western High Peaks" with regards to what regulations apply there... despite being located east of the "Eastern High Peaks."

          You can view the wording of the current regs for yourself here:

          Originally posted by forgedin78 View Post
          DEC is responsible for enforcing the laws passed by state legislators, So take your info from them. The Adirondack mountain club is just that, a club. They have no teeth to dictate any behavior.
          Small correction to this- the state land use regulations are regulations, not laws, and as such are passed (or rather, "promulgated") by the DEC itself, not by the state legislature.


          • tgoodwin
            tgoodwin commented
            Editing a comment
            O.K., I was wrong in my comment below. I went back and reviewed the recording of the training session and now realize that the DEC forester spent a long time explaining what the regulations will be, but with no timeline as to exact implementation.

        • #6
          The DEC is also notoriously slow to update their website. This past Sunday I participated in an ADK-sponsored training session for volunteer summit stewards. One presenter was the DEC forester in charge of the High Peaks Wilderness. He explained the current regulations, and ADK's statements are consistent with what we heard from him on Sunday.
          Every time that wheel turns round, bound to measure just a little more ground.


          • #7
            The online "landscape" describing these regulations has been a mess for several years, as pointed out by the experts above. Sloppy, inconsistent terminology; lack of updates; and pie in the sky about what the regulations might be in the future, or what we might want them to be.

            I know that today, most people would like to get their information online, and I understand that. But this is SUCH a mess, you may be better served by an old fashioned approach. Pick your intended location and develop your trip plan. Then, pick up the voice telephone (we still have those?!) and call the Forest Ranger for that area, and get specific answers about what you want to do.


            • #8
              Thanks to all for responding.

              Particularly to DSettahr for taking the time to write such a thorough explanation.


              • dwegeng
                dwegeng commented
                Editing a comment
                I attended a similar training session (for a different group) a couple weeks ago. As I recall, the DEC hopes to implement the new regulations in about a year.

              • TCD
                TCD commented
                Editing a comment
                LOL. DEC hopes to implement the "trail to nowhere" on Cascade, as well.

              • VermontDacker
                VermontDacker commented
                Editing a comment
                dwegeng They've been saying "next year" for something like 3 years now. I wouldn't pay much attention until they announce an actual date, new regs that will be enforced as of XX/XX/XXXX.

            • #9
              I suspect that the DEC would have trouble with enforcement when the old regs are what is posted online. I could easily picture someone looking online at the official DEC site, following the regs there, getting a ticket if the actual regs had changed, and getting it thrown out in court by bringing in a printout of the DEC web page showing the old regs.

              Realistically, I believe the DEC will have to update the official web site information before they can enforce new rules.


              • #10
                I'm with TCD.

                In my experience it is not uncommon for websites to be out of date. It's pretty frustrating - I don't even trust websites when it outlines their own hours of operation.

                I don't think we want to put additional burden on the folks watching the backcountry, but when confusion ensues call the DEC. Over many years I have contacted them maybe 6-7 times for info. In EVERY case, weather the field office or speaking directly to a ranger they have been very helpful, very courteous, and seemed to enjoy what they were doing. In fact, it was during a recent call to Raybrook they also et me know about the delay to Lila.

                I always try to find the answer first, through research or posting questions on forums. When I call as a last resort I apologize for taking their time, but they always say that's what they are here for. I think that we would all agree that DSettahr, who posted above is a reliable resource. There are many others.

                And let me throw in - the DEC folks checking fishing licenses etc, have always been very polite - even when some jack-ass is trying to get out of a ticket.

                "Realistically, I believe the DEC will have to update the official web site information before they can enforce new rules." I am with you Vermont, but to make sure we better start the Go Fund Me bail money account right away.


                • #11
                  Viking, I am not recommending that anyone count on this as a defense. IANAL.

                  My point was that I believe the DEC will make an effort to clean up the online information when they decide they are ready to activate and enforce new rules, for the reason I outlined.

                  But I could be completely wrong. I don't work for the DEC, and I certainly don't set policy.


                  • #12
                    Hi Vermont - just joking around. You just see so many conflicting objectives and bad information. Look at the States issues surrounding expiring ID's during Covid. I honestly believe there had to be task team dedicated to screwing things up this bad. Couldn't have been an accident. These people were focused. And there are many others. Cannot comment on Vermont, but you folks generally seem to exhibit common sense - unless you are still closing the rest areas at 11:00 pm - I'm old.