As part of a collaborative effort to mitigate the impact of acid rain and restore brook trout to the Adirondacks, state helicopters delivered 34 tons of lime to an acidified pond in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area in the town of Webb, Herkimer County, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Judy Drabicki has announced.
According to the announcement, on March 6 and 7, approximately 40 DEC staff and New York State Police helicopter crews conducted the liming operation, which included 46 helicopter flights to transport 1,500 pounds of lime from a staging area near the boat launch at Stillwater Reservoir to Hawk Pond. The lime was deposited on the ice at the pond and later spread across the frozen surface. The liming of acidic lakes or ponds is a management tool used to neutralize the water’s acidity and create water quality that is more favorable for fish and aquatic life. When the pond thaws this spring, the lime will enter the water and reduce its acidity level.
“Each year, fisheries staff select an Adirondack pond for liming to reintroduce brook trout in the Adirondacks,” Regional Director Drabicki’s announcement said. “This effort involves months of planning and coordination with DEC operations staff, forest rangers and forestry staff, along with State police helicopters, pilots and crews. This joint effort is critical to reclaim waters impaired by acid rain and restore native habitats to these Adirondack waters.”
This is the first lime treatment for Hawk Pond, according to DEC. This fall, two strains of brook trout are expected to be stocked in the pond: the Horn Lake strain of brook trout, and a heritage/domestic cross. Once the fish have had the chance to spawn, biologists will be able to use the genetics for each strain of the stocked fish to determine which parents are producing offspring and which strain is performing the best in the pond. This research is expected to help guide future management decisions involving Adirondack brook trout ponds.
DEC fishery staff is optimistic that these operations will successfully return brook trout to some large Adirondack ponds and lakes, their statement said. Larger water bodies in the Adirondacks maintain a deep cold water layer right through the summer (referred to as stratification), unlike the smaller ponds where water layers mix, which results in warmer water temperatures that are not as suitable for brook trout.
This year, NYS has introduced the Adventure License (http://licensecenter.ny.gov/
In support of this initiative, the Cuomo administration has proposed creating 50 new land access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands. These 50 new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds and building new trails and parking areas.
In addition, the Governor’s 2014-15 budget proposes to: include $4 million to repair the state’s fish hatcheries; limit the liability of landowners who allow recreational activities on their properties, which could open up vast, untapped resources for additional hunting, fishing and many other recreational pursuits; and allow crossbow hunting once again in New York State.
Photo of a helicopter picking up a load of lime from Stillwater Reservoir (courtesy DEC).