What started as a wholesome family tradition of cleaning up the area around their Fourth Lake camp has transpired into a widespread clean up event dubbed Maintain the Chain (MTC) that focuses efforts on the Fulton Chain of Lakes. In its inaugural year as a formal event in 2021, Maintain the Chain garnered support from the Fulton Chain of Lakes Association (FCLA), towns of Webb and Inlet, and the Sixth and Seventh Lakes Improvement Association, and partnered with the Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI). The momentum continued for the 2022 event this past summer, Aug. 5-14, dates which coincided with Adirondack Water Week and the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.
Carin Gonsalves, one of the founders of the annual MTC event, said this year was a success, with 58 teams and over 190 people registering for the event. Gonsalves said more than 25 teams submitted photos of their self-directed projects. Interested parties can take a look at several of them at this link: https://www.maintainthechain.net/about-mtc/mtc-2022-participants.
MTC organizers had a wonderful kick-off event at Great Pines Lodge on Fourth Lake in Old Forge, according to Gonsalves. Featured speakers included Tom Collins from the Adirondack Watershed Institute, Blake Neumann from the Adirondack Council, Dr. Nina Schoch from the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, Tom McCabe and Mark Steigerwald from the Fulton Chain of Lakes Association, and Carin Gonsalves of MTC.
Gonsalves said her family completed several projects this summer, including fetching debris from the bottom of First Lake in Old Forge where a house exploded during the summer of 2021. (Video at the link: (https://www.youtube.com/
“Of course, we cleaned-up the bottom of Fourth Lake [where they own a camp], but we also cleaned [State] Route 28 from the Eagle Bay Welcome Center to Rocky Mountain and we conducted water clarity measurements with a Secchi disc,” Gonsalves said. “However, the most rewarding was cleaning-up the bottom of First Lake where the house exploded last summer. We worked together with Gary Shreppel from the FCLA and his brother Mark. Both of them are avid scuba divers, but they needed help to lift the debris out of the water. That is where my family came in. My husband and I, my kids (Nolan and Isabella), my nephews (Owen and Peter Hotaling) and their friend (Lindsey Balman) used stand-up paddle boards to haul the debris to the shore. Although, it was very rewarding and we picked up tons of debris, we barely made a dent. It is very sad. It would be great if we could get help from professional divers who may specialize in clean-ups like this. The amount of debris at the bottom of the lake was overwhelming; we found gutters, decking, chairs, tables, bedsheets, light fixtures, etc.”
MTC organizers selected Luis Mikelsons from Fourth Lake as this year’s Best Project Award recipient.
“He is only 10 years old and completed three projects,” Gonsalves said. “He visited an AWI boat washing station, conducted water clarity measurements with a Secchi disk, and cleaned-up the lake in front of his camp. We were very impressed by his interest and eagerness to participate and learn about ways to protect the ADK.”
Those with View, the arts center in Old Forge, have expressed interest in hosting MTC’s kick off event in 2023, according to Gonsalves. In addition, the Adirondack Council and the Adirondack Watershed Institute are onboard to partner with the Boon family and the Fulton Chain of Lakes Association for next year’s event.
Plans for the third annual MTC event are already in progress. MTC 2023 will be held during the 4th annual Adirondack Water Week slated for August 5-13, 2023. Read more about MTC by checking out an Adirondack Explorer story here.