Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Paddling: The Myth of Motor-free Adirondack Waters

Shannon PhotoThe Adirondack Park is held up as the great wilderness area in the eastern United States. It’s the place where people come for a wilderness experience and to enjoy the great outdoors. One great myth about the wild Adirondack Park is that there is an abundance of motor-free lakes and ponds. In fact, the Park faces a scarcity of quiet waters where one can paddle a canoe or kayak without interruption from motorboats, jet skis, floatplanes, and other types of motorized watercraft.

Of the 200 largest lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Park, from Lake Champlain, with 262,864 acres, to Round Pond in Indian Lake, covering 134.9 acres, the overwhelming majority of big lakes and ponds provide abundant opportunities for motorized watercraft—but scant opportunity for quiet, motor-free waters.

Protect the Adirondacks has just released a new report entitled The Myth of Quiet, Motor-free Waters in the Adirondack Park. This report analyzed the public uses on the 200 largest lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Park. What we found is that there are relatively few opportunities for motor-free experiences on the biggest, most accessible lakes and ponds in the Adirondacks.

Protect the Adirondacks believes that the largest lakes in the Adirondack Park provide the most accessible opportunities for public water-based recreation. But the supply of motor-free experiences on these waterbodies is low when compared to the abundance of opportunities for motorized watercraft. There needs to be greater equity for motor-free waters recreation so that the Adirondack Park can better meet the public’s demand for a wide spectrum of outdoor recreational opportunities. There is a great demand for recreational experiences on accessible, motor-free lakes and ponds. The demand is high, but the supply is low.

Two lakes in the Adirondack Park’s Top 200 are soon to be classified by the Adirondack Park Agency: Third Lake (Number 94, 340 acres) and Boreas Pond (Number 95, 338 acres). The APA’s Forest Preserve classification review, which is ultimately made official by approval of the governor, will determine the types of public uses allowable on these lakes. Protect the Adirondacks supports Wilderness classification for these two remote lakes. This would help to correct the imbalance of waters available for all types of motorized watercraft and motor-free waters.

Low Supply, High Demand

Across the Adirondack Park there are few genuine opportunities for motor-free boating on a big lake or pond. In the top 100 biggest lakes in the Adirondack Park, just five lakes stand out as lakes without motorboats, jetskis, and floatplanes; Lows Lake, Little Tupper Lake, Round Lake, Lake Lila, and St. Regis Pond. These lakes are all managed as motor-free waterbodies as parts of the Forest Preserve. Three other lakes, Cedar Lake in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area, Newcomb Lake in the High Peaks Wilderness, and Pharaoh Lake in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, are also motor-free, but they are largely inaccessible for boating by the general public. They are great lakes to hike to, and extraordinarily beautiful places, but they are difficult to reach with a boat.

Of the 100 biggest lakes in the Adirondack Park, 77 are open for all manner of motorized boating and floatplanes. 13 lakes are privately owned and provide no public access, and just 8 are motor-free. Two lakes in the top 100 are currently in process of being purchased by the State of New York for addition to the Forest Preserve, after which the type of allowable public use will be determined through a public review process. The reality, therefore, is that more than 75% of the Park’s grandest lakes are open for motorized activity while only 8% offer the motor-free option, and just 5% are easily accessible for a motor-free experience.

For those who desire greater motor-free opportunities, the numbers improve slightly in an analysis of the 200 biggest lakes in the Adirondack Park. 115 (57%) of the Park’s 200 biggest lakes are open for motorized uses, 54 (27.5%) are privately-owned and thus closed, and 29 (14.5%) are open and motorless. However, of these 29 motor-free lakes, just 17 (9%) are easily accessible without long carries.

When one compares the acreage of waters open for motor-free and motorized opportunities, the differences are stark. Fully 96% of the total surface water area of the 100 biggest lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Park is dedicated to motorized boating; just 2% is open for public motor-free recreation. If we subtract Lake Champlain, which at 262,864 acres is vast and located partly in Vermont, and look only at waterbodies completely within the Blue Line, the amount of water area dedicated to motorized water uses is 90%. Just 5% is open for public motor-free opportunities.

If we expand our data to look at the surface areas of the 200 biggest lakes in the Adirondack Park, 93% are dedicated to motorized uses. If Lake Champlain is excluded, the figure drops to 84% open for motorized uses. Only 7% of the acreage in these 200 biggest waters is devoted to motor-free use, and this figure includes the acreage for motor-free waterbodies that are difficult to reach with a boat.

The PROTECT report provides a table listing the 200 largest lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Park from Lake Champlain (262,864 acres), to Round Pond (135 acres in the Town of Indian Lake). The table provides the locations of these waterbodies, waterbody acreage and allowable uses.

In addition to the fact that there is a low supply of motor-free waters for the big lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Park, there are also many other reasons why it’s critical to create more motor-free opportunities for the public. The following details the importance of motor-free waters for natural resource protection and public recreational use.

Natural Resource Stewardship

Of all the reasons to expand the number of motor-free waters among the large lakes in the Adirondack Park, natural resource stewardship is vital. Here are some particulars:

  • The threat of aquatic invasive species infestations is vastly less for motor-free waterbodies than waters open to motorboating. Evidence is overwhelming that motorboats are the key vectors of spreading aquatic invasive species from lake to lake. The chances of infestation are significantly less for spreading invasives with the “cartop” fleet of boats. It’s far easier to see any vegetation or debris hanging on a canoe or kayak and they are easier to clean. There are no boat trailers where water can pool or debris or plants can become suspended. It’s much more difficult to transport standing water on a canoe or kayak.
  • Motor-free waters provide better habitat for nesting waterfowl and wildlife. Motorboats disturb nesting waterfowl. It’s been documented that species, like loons, will nest on a quiet lake, and travel to forage on larger lakes. Motorboats have the impact of forcing nesting birds off their nests and some nests are even swamped by waves.
  • Waves and erosion have a major impact along shorelines. Impacts are far greater on waters with heavy motorboating, than on motor-free waters. Lakes and ponds that experience high levels of motor boat use also experience instances of shoreline erosion due to incessant wave action on busy days. 

Quiet and Solitude

Several dozen canoes and kayaks can be in simultaneous use on a motor-free lake or pond, such as Lake Lila or Round Lake, and the experience remains one of tranquility. Put several dozen motorboats on one such lake and the experience is dominated by the buzz of engines, surge of boat waves, and smell of gasoline.

It is even more critical in our fast-paced life for us to escape the noise, speed and smell of roaring engines. It is good for all of us to have places for refuge and silence, places where we can observe native species and intact ecosystems and enjoy an overnight camping experience. Such wild places grow fewer each year.

It’s important that people have accessible wilderness areas. The Adirondack Park offers great opportunities for hiking in wild places, where the longer one hikes the more remote the country one can access, but opportunities to do this by boat are limited. For many, canoe or kayak access is how they get to wild places and enjoy Wilderness. Greater opportunities are needed for this type of experience in the Adirondack Park.

Older People and People with Limited Physical Mobility Deserve Easily Accessible Motor-free Waters

Often the criticism of a motor-free lake is that it discriminates against people with limited mobility. But there are many older people and people with limited mobility who desire to have wild experiences on a motor-free water body. They cannot hike great distance, but they can paddle or ride in a canoe. The vast majority of motor-free opportunities are on small, remote lakes and ponds, which are challenging to reach for older people or people with limited mobility. Easily accessible motor-free waters should be available for these people.  Motor-free waters provide a wide range of opportunities for elderly and disabled individuals and groups.

Forever Wild and the State Constitution

In 1894, the framers of the “Forever Wild” clause in the State Constitution recognized the need for public opportunities for a close connection to nature. A big part of the leading testimony in support of the “Forever Wild” clause was to provide lands and waters where, in their language, “peace and quiet” would reign forever and the sounds, smells and life of nature would be an unbroken chain from that time onward. Nothing is more faithful for the spirit of “Forever Wild” than a motor-free lake or pond.

Opportunities for New Motor-free Waters in APA Forest Preserve Classification Review

In the spring of 2013, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) started its formal classification review for the new Forest Preserve lands around the Essex Chain Lakes. The Department of Environmental Conservation made its formal submission to the APA. The APA will conduct a formal public hearing process during the summer-fall of 2013. Part of the Essex Chain Lakes and one of the 200 largest lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Park is Third Lake (Minerva, Essex County).

Public use will be determined during the APA’s classification hearings. PROTECT supports a Wilderness classification for the Essex Chain Lakes. This provides an opportunity to increase the number of motor-free lakes among the biggest 100 lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Park from 8 to 9. Boreas Pond is scheduled to be purchased by the state within the next five years. This waterbody is another ideal candidate for motor-free management through a Wilderness classification. If Boreas Pond is classified as Wilderness and managed as a motor-free waterbody it would bring the number of motor-free lakes among the biggest 100 lakes in the Adirondacks to 10 lakes.

In the Adirondack Park’s Forest Preserve, lands designated Wild Forest include over 100,000 more acres than lands designated Wilderness. Wilderness lands should be equal to Wild Forest. For all the reasons detailed in this report there needs to be many more opportunities for easily accessible motor-free waters in the Adirondack Park for the public to enjoy.

Today, just five of the biggest 100 lakes in the Adirondacks are relatively easy to access and motor-free. Just 17 of the biggest 200 lakes are easily accessible and motor-free. The demand is high for motor-free experiences, but the supply is low.  This needs to change.

The public deserves greater opportunities for motor-free waters across the Adirondack Park.

Photo: Loon Lake, one of many Adirondack lakes dominated by motorboat and jet ski traffic (courtesy Shannon Houlihan).

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Peter Bauer is the Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks. He has been working in various capacities on Adirondack Park environmental issues since the mid-1980s, including stints as the Executive Director of the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and FUND for Lake George as well as on the staff of the Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century. He was the co-founder of the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP) in 1998, which has collected long-term water quality data on more than 75 Adirondack lakes and ponds. He has testified before the State Legislature, successfully advocated to pass legislation and budget items, authored numerous articles, op-eds, and reports such as "20% in 2023: An Assessment of the New York State 30 by 30 Act" (2023), "The Adirondack Park and Rural America: Economic and Population Trends 1970-2010" (2019), "The Myth of Quiet, Motor-free Waters in the Adirondack Park" (2013), and "Rutted and Ruined: ATV Damage on the Adirondack Forest Preserve" (2003) and "Growth in the Adirondack Park: Analysis of Rates and Patterns of Development" (2001). He also worked at Adirondack Life Magazine. He served as Chair of the Town of Lake George Zoning Board of Appeals and has served on numerous advisory boards for management of the Adirondack Park and Forest Preserve. Peter lives in Blue Mountain Lake with his wife, has two grown children out in the world, and enjoys a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities throughout the Adirondacks, and is a member of the Blue Mountain Lake volunteer fire department.Follow Protect the Adirondacks on Facebook and Threads.

37 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    “Lows Lake, Little Tupper Lake, Round Lake, Lake Lila, and St. Regis Pond”

    What about Little Clear Pond (drive to), Green Pond (drive to), Long Pond (very short carry)…..

    Your argument here seems to be centered on a lack of “large” ponds or lakes is that correct?

    All the smaller ponds (and some pretty large) that are not accessible by anyone except paddlers are by default motor-less waters, no?

    Would you also envision waters that are ONLY for motorized use as well as part of this balance?

  2. Matt says:

    I would scratch Lows lake from the truly motorless list. During my first experience there in July a couple years back I saw a pontoon boat docked up at the boy scout camp/landing and a fishing boat with trolling motor in that same area. Add to that the drone of a generator from the camp (which was much worse than motors when you have to listen to it all night), and you have a wilderness experience let down. I did return with a better experience, but that couldn’t have been an isolated experience.

  3. Mike says:

    But are the larger water bodies good for cartop boats? Realistically, a lake the size Piseco Lake or Lake Placid is going to be choppy and rough and most days, for a small car-top boat.

    Those lakes are best reserved primarily for bigger boats, but if people want to take cartop boats out on them, then they should stay close to the shore, and in smaller bays.

    Also, most of the large lakes are highly developed along the shore, and have one or more major highways along them. Banning motor boats would have a minimal effect compared the noise pollution along the shorelines.

    • Paul says:

      Also, many of the larger lakes. The Saranac chain, Cranberry, Rainbow etc. have many acres of water that is only accessible by paddlers since much of these dammed up waterways are too shallow for most motor boats. I have had lots of quiet paddling in the coves and bays of many of the larger lakes.

    • Dave says:

      I’ve paddled both Piseco and Lake Placid several dozen times, in a 10 foot 14lb canoe, and have never encountered conditions that were too choppy or rough. In fact, the only time I’ve felt unsafe in a small boat on lakes like that is when a motor boats wake hit me.

      It is a good point, however, that some of these larger lakes are developed to the point where quiet paddling is hard to come by regardless of the motors on the lake. Not all of them however. Lake Placid for example is a lake that can offer lots of quiet solitude when the motor boats are not going at it, even with the shoreline development.

  4. Paul says:

    According to the study 3 of 8 of the top 100, and 12 of 29 of the top 200 motor-less lakes are dubbed “remote and non accessible”. Peter, two things. First why not advocate to make them more accessible and second doesn’t your group normally advocate for things like Wilderness designations and road closures that make things remote and inaccessible? Seems like you want to have it both ways. Make many places inaccessible and then restrict the accessible ones to your groups preferred activity?

    On the demand side you say this:
    “There is a great demand for recreational experiences on accessible, motor-free lakes and ponds. The demand is high, but the supply is low.”

    I saw no data to support anything on the demand side in your report. I don’t see places like the St. Regis Canoe area especially crowded at most times? I do see boat launches like the Second Pond launch for Lower Saranac jammed and overflowing onto the highway all summer long.

    I think it is probably a good idea to increase some motor-less opportunities but I don’t see any big “myths” involved. I would also add that the campaign to “clarify” navigation rights on streams and rivers as somewhat of an invitation to motorized use of some water bodies that have historically been pretty quiet places to paddle.

  5. Phil Brown says:

    Paul, the ponds you mention are accessible and motor-free but they are not among the largest lakes in the Park.

    • Paul says:

      That is true. I guess Peter is referring to the St. Regis Lakes rather than St. Regis Pond in his comments. I was thinking that Little Clear and Long Pond as examples are pretty large bodies of water for paddling. It took me a while to row the length of Little Clear the other day and St. Regis was windy and about as large as a “lake” I would have wanted to be on in a guide boat that day.

      This is a topic where I think some groups have backed themselves into a bit of a corner. First there is what I have mentioned above about wanting to have the access issue both ways and then there is another issue. Phil in something you wrote the other day on the Finch property classification there was this idea that a new canoe area in there could help relieve some of the pressure on the St. Regis Canoe area? All along some have been arguing that these things will increase tourism business for the local communities. Now we see the argument that one area will draw “business” away from other areas. I don’t think this is what many local politicians had in mind when they approved these deals. So if the demand is really there and motor-less will be more of a draw than something else than fine but a better case must be made.

      What are the stats? How many motor boats versus motor-less crafts? Is there a numbers case to be made for more of a “balance”.

  6. Phil Brown says:

    Paul, I don’t have the stats. But I see a lot more cars in the Park carrying canoes and kayaks than pulling motorboats.

    • Paul says:

      I see a lot of canoes and kayaks also. It would be interesting to see what the data is and what the majority of paddlers really want. I seem to see lots of paddlers that don’t seem to have any issue with using waterways that are a mix of boat types. The theoretical question is would a launch like Second Pond have more paddlers there if it were not totally jammed with trailers all summer. I am just not sure there is really an issue here. A lake like upper St. Regis is great for paddling even with the motor boats that are there.

    • Paul says:

      Here is a simple economic question that would not be hard to get at. What is the economic impact of the marinas in the Adirondacks verses the outfitters. You could start around the trilakes. I know that one Ski Nautique sold is the equivalent of about 50 one thousand dollar canoes as far as sales tax revenue goes. How many boats does St. Regis sell in an entire season? We need to have both kinds of activities but does the latter justify some type of balance as far as the water ways they need exclusive use of?

  7. Matt says:

    Need a better research method I think. Even if you took a couple days a year diligently counting boats on a road or launch does not capture the whole picture. Seeing more canoes and kayaks does not account for the motor boats docked long term or sitting in trailers in driveways. They are less mobile and many people keep their motor boats on a lake longer-term.
    If reducing motorboats is the goal, then the best way to do it is not through just access regulations, but increased ownership costs. Use research to support environmental impact and cost to compensate/clean up the damage by motor boats and come up with additional boat registration fees.Add in a pump surcharge at marinas and that would definitely cut down on the motor boat numbers. Also, a bit off point but related, What about a blue line permit for added accountability for all water craft to cut down on invasives to start a war chest to combat them?

    • Paul says:

      Matt, I don’t think there is any goal to reduce the number of motorboats? If you did want to do it then you could just close the public launches. The development of the four cycle engine and very strict emissions standards has really changed the way motorboats impact the environment. I suspect that electric boats (I should say more types since there are some already) will also continue that trend. Would this thing be legal on a “motor-less” lake?


  8. Dan says:

    Over the past few years I’ve wanted to take my kids summer camping on a motorless lake with clean water and wild, as opposed to recently logged shores or shores heavily impacted by dam releases. Lake Lila fits the bill, but each time we’ve gone in, after driving a great distance, the parking lot has been completely full – even on weekdays. So off we usually end up at the Saranacs. In spite of trying, my kids have never canoe camped on a quiet lake, and we go almost every year.

    I have been camping and canoeing in the Adirondacks for over 50 years, and I can tell you it is a fact that there is huge demand for quality, quiet water here in the greatest park in the East. For those who see dollar signs, if we capitalize on paddlesports, the Adirondacks could one day regain its rightful place as the greatest watersports park in the nation. It’s a good dream.

    • Paul says:

      Dan, Why not try the St. Regis Canoe area. There are many different places where you can set off and you won’t find any dams or logged shorelines. It sounds like the Essex Chain lakes will also be open soon. Hopefully it will not be too difficult to access.

  9. Alex says:

    This does not really bother me. Many of the largest lakes aren’t great for paddling anyways. The best paddling spots will always be in the small, secluded and hard to reach areas where solitude can be found.

    If I am putting in on Lake George for example, I know that I will likely deal with higher winds and choppier waters in addition to boat traffic. And just because a lake allows motorboats does not mean that the lake is overrun with them. I have always enjoyed paddling Blue Mountain Lake. There is motorboat traffic, but not much of it, and the scenery is great. Nothing but great experiences there.

    Also, many of the large lakes will have areas of low boat traffic (EX – Northwest Bay, Lake George).

  10. Marco says:

    Generally, I see three or four canoes, kayaks and row boats to one motor boat. Of the camps on the lakes, most have one motor boat but often two or three cnaoes or kayaks. This is anecdotal though, with the numbers picked up over about 30 years of paddling/hiking through the ADK’s.

    Racquette Lake is a good example of mixed traffic on the water. Sometimes, I have to stick closer to shore as the larger waves roll off my boat. Othertimes I can paddle anywhere. Crossing Lake Champlain with a small 12′ canoyak is an experience. You wonder sometimes if the motor boats are even watching. Yes, both types can coexist on the water. But smaller water is, perhaps, exclusivly “owned” by small, human powered boats.

    To have 5% of the largest lakes reserved for human powered boats is reasonable in my estimation. There are many, many canoers, kayakes and rowers out there that would love a pleasent day on the water without worrying about a motor boat suddenly racing by. Yes, it’s slower, like the pace of life in these areas. 5% is a drop in the bucket to paddle a pristine lake, a price I would easily pay.

    Even though a beer and tooling along in front of a motor can be enjoyable at times, you simply do not see too many animals with the engine running. How many times have you seen a couple deer amble down for a drink and walk back? Not in a motor boat. By the same token, getting from point A to point B is easier done with a motor.

    I agree with the sentiments expressed in the article. I believe that there are a LOT of people that would slow down, smell the roses (avoiding the bee) and simply kick back and watch the sunset on a larger lake, IF they had a chance to paddle out on one. At least night navigation would not be an exercise in risk taking, but a serene moon light paddle on glass smooth water.

  11. Big Burly says:

    This conversation and Peter’s reasonable proposition reminds me of the time an intrepid person suggested that hikers should have to pay for a permit to climb the high peaks, indeed any peak in the ADKs — the person was lucky to get out of the room intact.
    I am a paddler (also own a guideboat) and have experienced too many instances of thoughtless owners of motorboats leaving wakes that endangered me and my cohort, even close to shore.
    I support Mr. Bauer’s position that the region needs more “motorless” bodies of water that are easily accessible.
    For those who argue motorboaters bring more $$$ to the local economy, take in the annual Wooden Canoe Heritage Association Annual get together at Paul Smith’s College in June. Paddlers are not noticed as much ‘cuz they make a lot less noise !!

    • Paul says:

      Don’t get me started on this…

      I paddle and row and have a motorboat. This thing about “thoughtlessness” goes both ways. It is almost a several a day experience on the Sarnac Chain in a motorboat to have many canoes and kayaks paddling on the wrong side of the navigation channel (going the wrong way) or across the navigation channel for no reason completely clueless to where they should be. And this in places where they could be far outside the channel enjoying a much more quiet part of the lake or river. It makes almost no sense.

      BB, I agree there should probably be some more “motor-less” opportunities but the smaller more remote waterways seem much more suitable for paddlers. Don’t forget all the rivers and streams that are pretty much only “open” for paddlers as well. It just isn’t a”myth” that there are many places out there like Peter claims.

      • Scott D says:

        Navigation channels are for motor boats not canoes. Your attitude reflects the typical “I drive, therefore I rule the road” attitude of car drivers, in this case transferred to the water.

        Get rid of the motorized boats, no need for navigation channels…problem solved!

        • Paul says:

          Didn’t say the motor boats rule the “road”. Some of them are just as clueless at times.

        • Nature says:


          Roads are built primarily for motor vehicles. Bikes can use them as well but they must follow the rules of the road. Cars and bikes must share the road. Isn’t it the same in Navigation channels? Are most water bodies that have a navigation channel also considered public highways? Isn’t the right of navigation a common law right?

          • Scott D says:

            Roads were built for motor vehicles and lakes were built by glaciers. Navigation channels were laid out to delineate a safe passage for motor boats to not damage their props. I know of no statute that requires non-motorized boats (or motorized for that matter) to follow a navigation channel. I also know of no navigation channel with a center stripe, white shoulder lines, crosswalks (crosspaddles?), or non-motorized shoulders that would imply a designated area for certain craft to stay in. Are you saying that I should get a ticket for encroaching in the ‘wrong’ part of a navigation channel with a canoe?

            • Paul says:

              No. I think maybe we are suggesting that there are common sense “rules” that apply to traveling on any kind of road, path, hiking trail,river, or lake, whatever. And some folks are certainly free to not use their common sense. There is no shortage of that one some waterways.

  12. George says:

    I like motor-free lakes because as a paddler, they are quieter, safer, and for me, more in harmony with my idea of experiencing nature.

    My canoe does not disturb the motor boat. The motor boat disturbs my canoe.

    While I support more motor-free waters, it must be said that there are wilderness areas in the Park today that are loaded with motorless lakes and ponds, which are used by virtually no one.

    In terms of policy, we could approach the issue of motor vs. no motor cooperatively:

    How about one motor free day per week on some lakes?

    One all-electric day?

  13. George says:

    This is not just about boating.

    My family loves to swim long distances, and we choose to do this only in motor-free lakes.

    I prefer to read next to a motor-free lake.

  14. Tom says:

    Follensby Clear Pond is among the bodies of water that ought to be motor-free. Anyone with a motorized water craft has easy access to Upper Saranac Lake a stone’s throw away. They don’t need Follensby Clear. I would certainly consider camping there if it were motor-free. I also agree with Bauer’s point that there are older folks who like to paddle in a serene setting but are not able to portage. They deserve easy access to some quiet water paddling.

    • Paul says:

      Tom, Isn’t Follensby Clear Pond already a “motor-free” pond?

      “I also agree with Bauer’s point that there are older folks who like to paddle in a serene setting but are not able to portage. They deserve easy access to some quiet water paddling.”

      Then you should ask his group to support policies that will keep more waterways easily accessible. There are a number of motor-less waters that, if made more accessible, could solve this dilemma.

      • Dave says:

        Follensby Clear is not motor free. Neither are a lot of the little bodies of water around there. One of which, I own property on and can attest to this.

        We already have hundreds of lakes and ponds with direct accessibility. No need to support opening access to others if you want motor free paddling. Seems easier to more fairly distribute motor usage on those hundreds of lakes and ponds that are already accessible.

        • Paul says:

          Dave, thanks for the info on Follensby Clear.

          “We already have hundreds of lakes and ponds with direct accessibility. No need to support opening access to others if you want motor free paddling.”

          According to Peter’s post here that is a myth???

          • dave says:

            I don’t see where Peter suggests that is a myth at all.

            There are hundreds of lakes that are easily accessible in the Adirondacks, the overwhelming majority of them just happen to allow motors.

            What I am saying is that if we want people to have motor free usage of accessible lakes and ponds, there is no reason to build roads or ease access to MORE lakes and ponds, all we need to do is declare some of the ones already accessible as motor free.

            • Paul says:


              You could do it that way but don’t you think it would be fairer for both constituents to just make some of the hundreds of motor free waters that you are describing more accessible rather than kicking motors off waters that are already open for that use?

              There are many examples where you simply need to remove a gate. For example removing the gate and eliminating the carry down the road to Lake Lila would make exactly the type of lake that Peter describes more accessible for motor free use for the type of users he is concerned cannot gain access?

  15. John W says:

    Hello All:

    This is an interesting site and soon my wife and I will spend a week in the Adirondacks for the first time ( we’re native New Englanders).

    It would be great to have a greater number of waters that are motor free but I am afraid it is too late. As a child I grew up on a large freshwater lake in Massachusetts and it was great but that changed over the years. Boats got bigger and more powerful. Technically the speedlimit was 45 but one police officer in town had a boat that could reach 83mph. I think that statement pretty much sums it all up.

    The lake I grew up on was the scene of canoes, rowboats and nothing bigger than 10 or 20 horsepower. That changed because the town saw money from visiting water skiers as well as recently the site of some bass tournaments with boats that have 200 plus horsepower.

    Sadly rules should have been in place twenty years ago. There are some but few restricted lakes in New England I am not sure if it will happen in the future because the almighty dollar still rules. I am not sure about New York state and the towns in the Adirondacks but I suspect they welcome the boats because these see a trail of money.

    Again, I believe it may be too late. It should have been done thirty or more years ago.I could be worng.

  16. JoeH says:

    For what it’s worth, I have seen very little mention or consideration extended in Peter’s original piece to the many property Adirondack property owners who happen to have camps on many of these larger non-motorless lakes

    Believe it or not, there are still many camps that require use motorized acess. And on many of the lakes, the owners also own and use sailboats, guideboats and yes, even canoes.

    It is about time we recognize that motorless advocates are not exclusively paddlers. Should the non-motorized community have more rights than the camp and property owners, who contribute to the local economy via land and school taxes. employmentl for locals, and a thousand other ways,

    Is it fair for paddlers to claim exclusive rights to traditional waters where sportsmen and anglers have traditionally used motors to access remote areas to hunt and fish, and dare I mention ‘check their traps’.

    In terms of simple economics, it would be interesting to compare the contributions of each user group, as well as in terms of environmental protection. I’m sure that property owners are much more contientious when it comes to matters of invasives, noise pollution, and common courtesy for other users.

    I paddle and row, and also use a motor on occassion. And as previously mentioned , I have also encountered inconsiderate packs of paddlers on the channel between the Saranac Lakes. Likewise, I have been swamped more than once by inconsiderate motor boaters while pulling on the oars of a guideboat along the same route.

    Unfortunately, it remains impossible for the state to legislate, zone or
    designate the use of common sense or common courtesy.
    In the effort to exclude one type of access over another, someone is going to be discriminated against. Who has the right to make this call?
    I see both sides of the coin, as I frequently haul a pack canoe down Cranberry Lake a motorboat to enjoy the motorless waters of the Five Ponds Wilderness.
    It is often too dangerous to make the long trip across the big lake with just the canoe. All users must learn to share, and calling for exclusivity is not good manners in the sandbox or on the water.

  17. Peter says:

    Having paddled in the Adirondacks for years, I can tell you that many of the larger bodies of waters are not safe to paddlers.
    Only Sat, I was at the Otis Reservoir in Otis , MA it was a DISASTER.
    Jerk-offs on Jet ski’s , PWC, large boats all speeding up and down a 1,200 acres body of water ?
    Huge wakes- YES even along the shore.
    No consideration at all.
    Loud, huge wakes
    As long as the boaters have their fun , F everybody else is the rule.

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