The Adirondack Park Agency voted Thursday (May 14) to hold public hearings on classifying Lows Lake and adjacent state lands as Wilderness. The APA did so in part to placate environmentalists upset by the agency’s recent decision to allow floatplanes to continue landing on Lows for the next three years.
The APA has yet to set dates for the hearings, but there will be at least one inside the Park and at least one outside it. We’ll let you know when we get the dates.
The proposal is unusual in that it seeks to classify waters as well as land. There are three private landowners on Lows Lake, and in the past the APA has shied away from classifying waterways that were not fully surrounded by state land.
Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said the proposal, if adopted, could set a precedent for other waterways, such as the stretch of the Raquette River that borders the High Peaks Wilderness Area.
Altogether, about 3,070 acres of water (Lows Lake, Hitchins Pond, part of the Bog River, and Bog Lake) and 9,600 acres of land would be designated as Wilderness. Most of the acreage would be added to the Five Ponds Wilderness. The rest would go into the Round Lake Wilderness. (Click on map below.)
Wilderness is the most protective of the APA’s five classifications for state land. Among other things, such a designation forbids motorized use. After 2011, floatplanes will not be allowed to land on Lows Lake. Motorboats are already prohibited on the lake, though the inholders are exempt from the ban.
The Wilderness designation is bound to run into opposition from local-government leaders. Fred Monroe of the Local Government Review Board, which monitors the APA, noted that the Lows Lake region contains five roads and two concrete dams–which he described as “good reasons not to classify it as Wilderness.”
The Park’s State Land Master Plan describes Lows Lake as part of a wilderness canoe route. From the western end of Lows, paddlers can portage to the Oswegatchie River and then travel down the river for about sixteen miles. Critics like to point out that the lake itself is the creation of a man-made dam.
After the meeting, Woodworth acknowledged that the canoe route would not be the same without the dams, but he said the lake nonetheless provides a wilderness experience.
Do you think Lows Lake should be designated Wilderness?