By MIKE LYNCH
Paddlers are planning to congregate at Weller Pond Saturday to show their support for making the water body, along with Little Weller Pond, motorless.
The rally, which starts at 10 a.m., is being organized by Protect the Adirondacks. Peter Bauer, executive director for Protect, said there’s hundreds of campsites and 9,000 acres across the Saranac Chain of Lakes and that Little Weller Pond and Weller Pond are less than two percent of the total area open to motor boats.
“We think there’s a great opportunity for Weller Pond to be managed as a motorless refuge in an area that doesn’t have a lot of opportunities for motorless experiences,” he said.
The two water bodies are part of the Saranac Lake Wild Forest, which is currently being updated and is slated to go before the state Adirondack Park Agency in the future for approval. Weller Pond is accessible by a channel on Middle Saranac Lake. It has three tent sites and one lean-to site on its shores. Little Weller doesn’t have any campsites and is only accessible by a shallow channel. Both water bodies together take up 190 acres.
Bauer said he’s expecting anywhere from 50 to 70 boats to attend the rally.
But paddlers won’t be alone on Saturday morning. A group of people on motor boats plan to congregate in Hungry Bay on Middle Saranac Lake in support of motorized access to Weller Pond.
“There’s ample opportunity for those who don’t want motorboats around them,” said Keith Gorgas, one of the organizers. “On the Saranac system, it’s always been a shared system (with) motorless and motor boats coexisting.”
Gorgas, who has paddled most of his life, said one reason motors should continue to be allowed in Weller Pond is that anglers like to fish and hunt there early in the morning, and it’s quicker to get there in a motorized boat. He also noted that it allows people who aren’t physically able to paddle to visit the water body.
Gorgas said there will only be a small group of motor boats, perhaps 10 to 20. Those rallying for motorized access don’t plan to cause problems for the paddlers, nor do they plan to go into Weller Pond, he said. They simply want to have their voices heard, too.
“To try to go up into Weller with 100 canoes at the same time just seems like an invitation for disaster or confrontation…,” he said. “Besides that, the loons don’t need 100 canoes and 20 motor boats all descending on the lake at once, so we’re just going to stay out and we’re not going to block anybody.”
The paddler rally is part of a 20-year commemoration of a canoe-in for wilderness at Little Tupper Lake on August 15, 1998.
Paddlers attending the rally will be provided parking at Dewey Mountain, where a shuttle will take them to the South Creek boat launch.