For more than a century, paddlers traveling between Utowana and Raquette lakes have used a trail known as the Marion River Carry — a portage around rapids in the Marion River. In recent years that access has been threatened after the owner announced plans to build several homes along Utowana Lake.
A fierce opposition to development near the carry was raised by local residents and outdoor enthusiasts and today the Open Space Institute (OSI) has announced that it has acquired 295 acres surrounding the Marion Carry.
The parcel, located in the Hamilton County towns of Arietta and Indian Lake, was acquired by the Open Space Conservancy, OSI’s land acquisition affiliate. “OSI’s acquisition today ensures that the canoe carry, as well as hundreds of acres of pristine Adirondack forest, will remain available to the public,” the organization said is a statement issued to the press. The newly acquired property includes approximately 280 acres of forest lands, 3 acres along the Marion River and 14.5 acres of Utowana Lake frontage.
In 1899, William West Durant built a rail line along the canoe carry, which, at 1,320 yards, was the shortest standard-gauge railroad line in the United States. Operating until 1929, the railroad carried tourist passengers between steamboats and to a country club Durant had built in the Blue Mountain Lake area. Since that time, the Marion Carry has served as an important link in one of the Adirondack Park’s most popular canoe routes along the 4.5-mile long Marion River, which connects Blue Mountain Lake to Raquette Lake via Utowana Lake and Eagle Lake. New York State has classified the Marion River as a Scenic River, and it is an often-used offshoot of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, which runs for 740 miles from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine.
Although it has been privately owned, landowners have traditionally permitted the public to use the Marion River Carry. However, recognizing it as an important public recreation resource, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation listed the property as a priority acquisition in its 2009 New York State Open Space Plan.
“The potential for development made the Marion River Carry a higher, more immediate priority for conservation,” said OSI President and CEO Kim Elliman. “With this acquisition, we can now guarantee the continued availability of this historic and important public recreational resource.”
According to their statement to the press, the Open Space Institute continues to fundraise for both acquisition and carrying costs associated with the Marion River Carry property. Anyone interested in contributing can contact Tally Blumberg at (212) 290-8200 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Open Space Institute protects scenic, natural and historic landscapes to provide public enjoyment, conserve habitat and sustain communities,” their press statement said, adding that OSI has protected more than 116,000 acres in New York State and an additional 2.2 million acres from Quebec to Georgia.
Photos: Above, the Marion River; below, Utowana Lake (Photos provided by OSI).