The Adirondack Park Agency announced the closure of nearly 5% of the park’s traditional canoe routes. The initiative, which bans canoes, guideboats or any non motorized watercraft upon these waters, is the accomplishment of an industry based coalition which lobbied for power boater’s exclusive rights.
The statement would be startling if it were actually true. Yet, imagine the potential outrage and you’ll have a sense of the emotional exchange stirred by proponents of the Quiet Waters (QW) Campaign.
While I take umbrage with proponents for self serving, divisive and deceptive tactics; I will concede there exist waters whose size, location or fragile ecosystems are inappropriate for motorized use. Lamentably few of these have made their list.
By vocation and avocation, I’ve paddled and portaged the Adirondack’s watery web for over 30 years and yet I also utilize motorboats for occupational purposes. When motorless advocates shun vehicles and begin walking to work, I’ll retire my 2 hp outboard and pull on the oars.
The motorless lakes movement’s request for exclusive use of waterways engenders elitism and nourishes the polarization of user groups. Sportsman, camp owners and traditional recreationalists, already disenfranchised by numerous state land use decisions, abhor the attempted closing of established motorized waters for fear of the precedent it will set.
Unfortunately, local groups have little influence since their inherent independence does not lend well to organized campaigns similar to the effectively lobbies instituted by the Sierra Club, RCPA, Adirondack Mountain Club and the Quiet Waters Campaign. Sadly, as advocacy groups continue to dissipate power on drivel they dilute resources better utilized on the critical watershed issues of acid rain, road salt, invasive species and lead contamination.
Signatures solicited by QW at the New Jersey Paddlefest, raised a legitimate question: If out-of state residents contribute no NY state land taxes, boat registration, licenses, camping or access fees to support agencies administering state lands, should they be permitted to influence matters regarding state land use? Then why petition their signatures?
While QW boasts over 10,000 petitioners, fewer than 15% are park residents, seasonal or otherwise. If motorless lakes are salient, why haven’t locals embraced the effort?
It’s been estimated that 90% of travelers utilize less than 10% of the land, a fact most evident on holiday weekends in the St. Regis Canoe Area, Lows Lake and Lake Lila .
Typically, the ‘wilderness’ label attracts hordes seeking solitude while nearby wild forest or primitive lands remain vacant. Quiet, secluded waters are available but it requires knowledge and effort to find them. Motorless proponents should forge partnerships with outfitters, tourism officials and the DEC to better disperse the crowds before blaming powerboaters for a lack of peace and solitude, dude.
Proponents claiming only 3% to 5% of the park’s surface acreage is motorless have purposely concealed the fact these figures include half the acreage of Lake Champlain and all of Lake George. Statistics employing surface acreage to skew the tally do not present a fair depiction of the facts.
In reality, the park’s motorless waters consist of 755 wilderness lakes, 39 primitive lakes, 58 canoe waters, a sizable portion of 986 wild forest water bodies and over 1200 miles of wild and scenic rivers unnavigatible or inaccessible to motorboats. Over a half million enthusiasts pay to register motor boats in NY, yet there’s not one registered paddler. Remind me again who’s paying for all of these water motors can’t use?
Meanwhile, the APA reports that fully 30% of the Adirondack’s ponded waters fall under the most restrictive land use classifications.
QW spokesman, Dick Beamish relates, “We aren’t talking about individual, remote ponds. We want those that are accessible, that form a chain.”
Reality check! If drive a SUV to the put-in for a convenient and exclusive wilderness experience you’re not really on a motorless lake.
For remote wilderness, go north to Quebec, Labrador or Navatuk for no Adirondack location exists so remote that a healthy man cannot exit to civilization in a full day’s travel. Remove the motors but don’t piss on my boots and tell me it’s raining outside.
Advocacy groups are simply spinning the threads of a synthetic wilderness if they believe it’s possible to escape the intrusions of road noise, jet planes, train whistles or cell phones.
“All we’re asking for are some crumbs”, adds Mr. Beamish as he woefully seeks a pseudo wilderness, “A few areas to ourselves.”
I’ve shouldered boats to Henderson Lake and the Preston Ponds, paddled the vast Whitney Wilderness, Lows Lake and Bog River Flow, Cedar Lakes, West Canada Lakes, hopped thru Pharaoh Lake, the Five Ponds, Pepperbox and drifted Dead Creek, the Grass Oswagatchie, Deer and St. Regis Rivers. Make no mistake folks, gems all, no “crumbs” here.
Sorry Paddleboy, but when it comes to quiet waters, you can’t have your cake and eat it too! The Adirondack’s 1.15 million acres of wilderness lands may comprise an imperfect park, but for those willing to discover it’s quiet corners, it represents a magical and magnificent resource, motors, worts and all!
We need your help to stop this action. Please contact the APA and voice your disapproval.
Contacting the New York State Adirondack Park Agency
For APA programs and activities including jurisdictional inquiries, permits, enforcement matters, park policy and planning, and APA administration, contact:
NYS Adirondack Park Agency
P.O. Box 99
1133 NYS Route 86
Ray Brook, NY 12977
Our regular business hours are 8:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday through Friday.