Cuomo budget expected to provide boost to Adirondack High Peaks

Published: Jan. 13, 2020 at 4:26 PM EST
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to heavily invest in the High Peaks in 2020, a move that has many North Country outdoor enthusiasts cheering.

The Adirondacks are an outdoor lover's paradise. But paradise is becoming a parking lot thanks to a surge in popularity. Bumper-to-bumper parking has become a commone sight at many trailheads like Route 73, and cars zipping by at 55 mph can make for an unsafe situation.

Governor Andrew Cuomo shined the spotlight on climate change and restoring land resources at his recent State of the State address . He wants to spend $1.2 million to bus hikers to and from the trails. The proposal was welcome news in the High Peaks.

"We need a better parking management situation. Clearly the shuttles will deal with that and some of the new parking lots that are coming," said Peter Bauer with Protect the Adirondacks.

That group and others are hoping to work with the state to remake the trail system and offer better safety education to out-of-state visitors. Those projects would pull from the 2020 state budget.

Bauer says these fixes to the High Peaks Wilderness aren't a want, but a need for the region. "It's a 150-year-old trail network in the High peaks. How do you think a trail would look after being pounded for 150 years? They're worn out," he said. "We need to completey rebuild the trail system, we need to do much better public education."

Other local environmental advocates have big dreams too. "The Adirondacks will clearly benefit -- both the wilderness we're protecting In the Adirondacks and also the communities," said Willie Janeway with the Adirondack Council. "When we invest in preserving the wilderness, it's good for the wildlife, the clean water, and clean air."

It's still unclear if these changes will be part of the governor's $3 billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act or if the funding will come from the Environmental Preservation Fund, but there should be a better understanding after the governor presents his 2020 budget. Funding for the changes still need to be passed by the Legislature, but if passed some of the changes could be implemented as early as this summer.

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