Friday, July 1, 2022

Raising big questions


A pair of proposed marina expansions are upsetting neighbors and raising the salience of a critical question for state agencies: how many boats are too many boats?

The same development team behind a proposed marina expansion on Lower Saranac Lake, which has been challenged in appellate court by a former Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner, is pushing forward a similar project on Fish Creek Ponds in Santa Clara.

Our summer intern Chloe Bennett got the latest from a planning board meeting in Santa Clara last week. The board tabled a final decision on permitting a plan to replace old docks with significantly larger ones, indicating they may ask the developer to specify hours of operation and boat rental policies before signing off. But dozens of neighbors in the area have signaled much stronger opposition to the plan, arguing it will disrupt the series of ponds near a popular state campground, and have said they plan to fight the project if it heads for DEC and Adirondack Park Agency approval.

The two marina projects are increasing focus on the state’s responsibility to study the capacity of Adirondack lakes – a responsibility referenced in the Adirondack State Land Master Plan. Questions about that requirement are central to an appeal filed by former DEC Commissioner Tom Jorling as he challenges state approval of the Lower Saranac project.

I am on vacation this week in South Carolina but will be keeping an eye out for the latest briefs from the state and marina team early next month.


Residents in the Fish Creek Ponds area are concerned a marina expansion will cause havoc in the narrow channel that connects the ponds to Upper Saranac Lake. Photo by Zachary Matson

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

12 Responses

  1. Joy Keithline says:

    I live near one of the most beautiful lakes in the world,
    Lake George, and we too frequently stay away due to the horrific noise and congestion brought on by all the boat traffic, especially those humongous cigar boats!!!!

    There is not a quiet day on this lake and to watch them
    deliver their mega boats into the lake is an egregious act against all that should be sanctified.

    There are far too many boats on Lake George, and we have only the state and county to blame, along with local enterprise.

    If we cared about this beautiful lake we would put the lake first! And welcome kayakers and canoeists and long distance swimmers first and foremost. Then all other craft should be electric only and owned by the lake commission, a made up entity for the sake of argument, and or private land owners. Electric crafts would be available to vacationers at the many marinas and no outside private craft will be given access to the lake. And you can forget about jet skis!
    Another abomination.

  2. Nathan says:

    there needs to be better preservation of lakes.
    1) ban all 2 stroke engines, elimainate all the smoke and oil films
    2) needs to be horsepower limits like 15 hp max on large lakes. With exceptions for say lake champlain, lake george with say speed limit of 50 or 40 mph.
    3) all lakes under 30 acres or limited water flow, limited to trolling motors only.
    too many lakes are just a non-stop roar now, with boats blasting all over, drunks and tourists buzzing boats, tipping canoes/kayaks.
    We need to try to save the wilderness and tranquility of the precious lakes.

    • Todd Eastman says:

      Add noise limitations…

      … noise carries across water nearly unabated.

      • Boreas says:

        Agree – and shouldn’t be limited to water! Modern, INTENTIONALLY LOUD vehicles of all types should be muffled. Noise is not benign.

        • nathan says:

          absolutely agree on noise limits, there are laws about how loud cars/trucks can be, but are never really inforced unless they peeve off a cop who pulled them over for something else.
          But there is zero reason for the stupidly loud cars/trucks/snowmobiles, sometimes boats. there should be tranquility so nature can be heard and enjoyed and nature can live and breed also.
          the whole neighbor hood doesnt need to hear your short member hiding car/truck

          • Steve B. says:

            Not to mention motorcycles. Lots of the big muscle machines like to get modified so that “loud pipes save lives” which is a crock of BS. Consider that the most popular time of year to use these machines is summer, when most folks are driving around with the car A.C in and the windows rolled up, NOBODY hears your pipes, unless you are driving by, in a huge group of 30, some poor folks sitting on their porch on a summer afternoon. The rice rockets are no better, but they at least crash in greater numbers, so Darwin effect helps here. These are the kind of life quality problem the police can go after, if they get so inclined. I hate hearing these machines.

            • Tom Paine says:

              Let’s not forget cell phone use and distracted driving as a life quality problem for other drivers on the road. The NYS budget could be balanced on tickets issued for illegal use of the cell phone while driving. Driving a vehicle is not to be tuned in and tuned out.

  3. drdirt says:

    Luckily, kayaking and canoeing on Adirondack Lakes has seldom been a problem for us over the years. Most all boaters are careful about creating dangerous wakes when passing paddlers. Of course, we all know that certain lakes should be avoided on weekends in the summer in the middle of the day. ,.,., thnx to the respectful boaters, most paddlers fear the ADK WIND more than the occasional speed boat. Education is the key, as well as picking your time and place.

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