Revising the law to guide | Notes from the North Woods

In a recent column detailing the history of Adirondack guides, I included a quote taken from an 1880’s era tourist guidebook.

After detailing the benefits of hiring a guide for Adirondack adventures, the guidebook author had included a mention that guides were “often to be found available for hire at all the local taverns.”

While it may have been the case in the1880’s, it’s far less common in modern times, and it’s likely to remain so if Sen. Betty Little has her way.

Little is the sponsor of Senate Bill Number:S6663 which is intended to amend the NYS Environmental Conservation Law, in relation to guides and outfitters.

DEC last revised guide licensing laws in the early 1980’s and the updated standards were eventually enacted into law in 1985.

There have been very few revisions to the statute of what defines the term “guide” even though the range of guided adventures has grown exponentially since that time.

Guides now provide adventures that go far beyond the traditional pursuits of hunting, fishing and hiking.

Currently, the business of guiding is defined as ‘providing services for hire whereby a guide directs, instructs or aids another person in fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, whitewater canoeing and rafting, or rock and ice climbing.’

However, the new standard is expected to define guides as a person ‘who offers services for hire, part or all of which includes directing, instructing or aiding another on the lands or waters of New York State.’

The updated revisions may also encompass guided activities such as birding, SUP/paddle boarding, caving, mountain biking and a host of similar outdoor pursuits conducted ‘for hire’ on Forest Preserve lands. Some of these pursuits weren’t even considered adventure pursuits when DEC last revisited the guide-licensing program in the early 1980’s.

The proposed legislation will likely include an increase in the guide licensing fees necessary to fund administration of the program.

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