July 16, 2008

Push on to Expand ‘Quiet Waters’

By Tom Wanamaker, Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.

Jul. 16--ALBANY -- Adirondack Explorer magazine and the Adirondack Mountain Club are joining forces for more quiet waters in the Adirondack Park. Specifically, they are targeting 13 ponds directly south of the St. Regis Canoe Area.

"We're not asking for very much," said Richard Beamish, the magazine's publisher. "Electric motors are OK as far as we're concerned. They're quiet and nonpolluting."

In early June, the Adirondack Park Agency and the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced the formation of the "Quiet Waters Working Group for the Adirondack Park." The group is composed of members of both DEC and APA.

The magazine proposed expanding the canoe area to include the Floodwood Pond Complex, which includes Rollins, Whey, Follensby Clear, Horseshoe, Polliwog, Little Polliwog, Little Square, Middle, Black, Copperas, Rock, East Pine and West Pine ponds. While some of these ponds are accessible by road (Route 30 and Floodwood Road), all are connected by portage trails. Also proposed for "quiet waters" status is Weller Pond, just north of Middle Saranac Lake and accessible by a narrow outlet.

The Adirondack Mountain Club, or ADK, touted the idea as a way to create a tourist destination for canoeists and kayakers from throughout the Northeast.

"The St. Regis, the largest primitive canoe area in the Northeast, attracts thousands of visitors each year who canoe, kayak, fish and camp," said Neil F. Woodworth, the club's executive director. "Expanding this popular area to include 13 interconnecting ponds directly south of the St. Regis would greatly enhance the region's reputation as an outdoor destination and do wonders for its tourism-based economy."

The St. Regis Canoe Area is in southern Hamilton County, generally north and west of Upper Saranac Lake. It covers 18,400 acres and includes St. Regis Mountain, St. Regis and Long ponds, sections of the east and west branches of the St. Regis River and 56 other bodies of water. No motorboats or float planes are allowed on any of its waters.

The area is the only designated canoe area in the Adirondack Park. It comprises 1 percent of the park's lakes and 0.6 percent of its lake acreage.

In a June 3 press release, state DEC commissioner Alexander B. "Pete" Grannis touted the "quiet waters" concept.

"There are too few places in the Adirondacks where paddlers can experience the tranquility of a motorless water body," Mr. Grannis said.

The new working group will draft recommendations for lakes, ponds and rivers to be potentially designated quiet waters. Input will be solicited from local communities, sportsmen, outfitters, paddlers and various other interested parties. All draft recommendations will be subject to public comment and review.

The group, composed of officials from DEC and APA, will hold its first interagency meeting in August.

Mr. Woodworth said the ADK does not object to continued motorboat use on larger Adirondack lakes.

"But there should be more places in the Adirondacks where people can canoe and kayak in peace and tranquility," he said. "We believe this can be accomplished with some modest changes that would have little impact on other users."


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