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Oregon firm to develop sustainable recreation plans for Adirondacks, Catskills

By Journal Staff



The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced on March 8 that it has awarded a visitor-use management planning contract to help develop sustainable recreation solutions for a high-use portion of the High Peaks in the Adirondacks Park and the Kaaterskill Clove area of the Catskill Park.

Otak, Inc. will assist with developing strategies to ensure the destinations are protected while continuing to provide positive visitor experiences, the DEC says.

“The Adirondack High Peaks and Kaaterskill Clove area in the Catskills are two of New York’s most popular outdoor destinations because of their outstanding beauty,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a release. “DEC is excited to partner with the experienced team at Otak, Inc., to explore strategic, innovative, and data-driven ideas and solutions for balancing conservation and public access in these beloved areas of forest preserve.”

Otak — a research, planning, and design firm headquartered in Portland, Oregon —received the contract award following a competitive request-for-proposals process, funded by New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund. The firm has more than two decades of experience conducting visitor-use planning and research on wilderness and other recreation lands managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and other agencies, the release stated.

The two-year contract, effective immediately, extends through the end of 2024. Over the next several months, Otak will engage state officials, stakeholders, and the public to outline desired conditions and management goals for the project areas, per the DEC. In the latter half of this year, the process will focus on measuring and analyzing visitor-use patterns to determine how closely current conditions in the two project areas compared to the desired management conditions.

Public meetings will be held in each project area to highlight goals and solicit input.

The second year will focus on developing management strategies to help the DEC achieve and maintain desired conditions. Otak will present its draft management plan at another round of public meetings. Final reports will include recommendations for monitoring and maintaining the effectiveness of the strategies over time.

The DEC manages the forest preserve land in the Adirondacks and Catskills, protected by the state’s constitution.   

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