Vice-Chair, Conservation: Gene Kaczka
In a joint statement, the DEC and APA announced the formation of an interagency “Quiet Waters Group for the Adirondack Park.” This working group will develop draft recommendations for lakes, ponds and rivers to be potentially designated “quiet waters” (meaning motorized craft would be prohibited). These recommendations would be subjected to public comment and review, then final recommendations will be submitted to the APA and DEC for actions to implement them. In making this announcement, it was noted of the thousands of water bodies, and the wide variety of habitats, currently the St. Regis is the lone designated canoe area. Representing about 1 percent of the lakes and 0.6 percent of the acres, it has had a very positive effect on small businesses and outfitters in Franklin and Essex Counties.
On another note, despite a promise to phase out floatplanes on Lows Lake over a five-year period in 2003, the Department of Environmental Conservation has released a plan to allow commercial floatplanes to use the lake for up to 10 more years. The UMP adopted in 2003 stated that floatplane usage would be phased out over five years. According to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, which is part of the state Executive Law, “preservation of the wild character of this canoe route without motorboat or floatplane usage is the primary management goal for this area.”
ADK argues that the design of the permit system is a patchwork of problems. For example, floatplane operators would be permitted to store their canoes on land designated as wilderness. Floatplanes would be restricted to specific landing and take-off areas, but they will need to beach on the wilderness shore to allow customers to access the canoes. Moreover, as planes cannot access the lake on Friday, Saturday and Sunday before 2 p.m. during the peak paddling season (July to September), customers will fly in on Thursday filling up campsites before weekend paddlers can access them.
In the survey of paddlers used to justify this proposal, 68% of paddlers did not support continued use of floatplanes on Lows Lake and 85% said floatplanes diminished their wilderness experience.
A recent study by the Resident’s Committee to Protect the Adirondacks shows that only 10 of the 100 largest lakes and ponds in the Adirondacks are motorless. Three of the 10 are in remote areas difficult to access. The majority of the lakes was found to be overrun with motorboats, personal watercraft and floatplanes.
ADK is encouraging all members to write a letter to DEC asking them to rethink their position. Floatplane operators have organized a letter-writing campaign to support their continuing operations. Public comment is being accepted by DEC until June 30. Write to: Peter Frank, NYS DEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233. The Adirondack Park Agency will make a final decision on the issue. So please also send a copy of your DEC letter to: Adirondack Park Agency, P.O. Box 99, 1133 Route 86, Raybrook, NY 12977.
Thanks to letters written to legislators regarding the Environmental Protection Fund, funding relative to last year was largely preserved and in some cases modestly increased. Unfortunately, unexpended funds were swept from the Fund into the General Budget.