Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Discussion time: Wilderness dams

The Explorer has been running a series on the 500+ dams that can be found within the Adirondack Park boundary. (Click here to see all the stories in the series) One of the articles specifically looks at dams that are in Wilderness areas. Marcy Dam is now gone and same with the dam that once made Duck Hole a celebrated paddling destination. Lake Colden is the only remaining dam.

The question remains: Do dams have a place in these protected areas? Should the state maintain the ones that remain? The article points to Lows Lake and the Boreas Ponds tract as examples of dams the state is willing to maintain. Weigh in here with your thoughts.

Photo at top: Debris from the old wilderness dam at Duck Hole. Photo by Mike Lynch

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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.


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11 Responses

  1. Dan Way says:

    Why didn’t you include my article about the Indian Lake dam entitled “Once Upon a Dam”?

  2. Bob Meyer says:

    Melissa,
    In my opinion, this is far from a yes, or no question.
    And there are all kinds of factors, including wilderness, preservation, wilderness, enhancement, historical significance, recreational availability ( Lows Lk, Boreas Ponds for example ), ecological integrity, property, rights, and protection ( Indian Lk etc).
    I think it might boils down to a case by case basis.
    It’s complicated!

  3. nathan friend says:

    Do any inhibit salmon runs? Those should be removed, do any stop invasives migration into new waterways like Lampreys, snake heads, milfoil, Asian carp, etc.? Maybe dams should be preserved for limiting invasives, There’s economic impacts on towns losing their water and tourism. Those dams have been there for generations, keeping them should be case by case, but environmental impact should 1st priority and consider whether they could save upstream from invasive fish, mussels, ect

  4. freethedacks says:

    I’m all for eliminating all the damn humans in wilderness areas. How can it be a wilderness when thousands of humans are trampling all over it, disrupting all the wildlife and taking selfies in fragile ecosystems? Keep the dams, remove the humans

    • Zachary Denton says:

      Aren’t humans part of the natural landscape? We’ve occupied wilderness areas for millennia, and for most of that time synergistically. That all changed only recently, say the last few hundred years. Perhaps we should explore changing the ways we interact with the wilderness instead. I’m for permitting hiking trails and camping for example. I think it’s naive though to expect that humans should have no interaction whatsoever with wilderness. How can one appreciate wild places if they never see wild places?

  5. Bill Price says:

    Duck Hole was a favorite place of mine since first camping there with a group of college friends in 1968. My wife and I camped there twice while hiking sections of the NP trail, and Donna painted a lovely picture of it from a photo, which painting I had in my office at GE for years. I was sorry when I first learned that the dam had gone out and had hoped it would be restored. But at 76, I’m more philosophical about it and accept that it is probably for the best that it return to its natural state.

  6. Zachary Denton says:

    I think the Dams likely could have very good ecological impact. This could provide alpine habitat for Moose, beaver, high alpine song bird species that rely on open water edge habitat, as well as many fish species. It’s likely this same water body such as lake Colden was dammed by native Americans long ago. I think it’s an interesting piece of Adirondack natural history and one we could preserve with positive biological impacts

  7. David S. says:

    Keep ‘em.

  8. Yes, I believe the dams should be maintained. The dams are of historical significance and provide recreational opportunities to the public.

  9. John Sasso says:

    The question is: do the dams have a negative impact on the environment, document via sound scientific studies?
    I have not seen any. You have (or had) dams which existed for several generations with no negative environmental impact. Treat the existing ones as historic structures, like the fire towers, albeit minimally maintained. If a dam is taken out by natural means then don’t rebuild it.
    The question of whether or not a dam remains goes beyond what a DEC UMP says, IMHO

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