Town and lake residents decry planned barrier
By Gwendolyn Craig
Despite residents’ concerns and municipal objections, the Adirondack Park Agency has instructed the state Department of Environmental Conservation to reconfigure a public boat launch at Eagle Lake in the Town of Ticonderoga so it no longer may accommodate trailered boats. The boat launch has been a “non-conforming structure” in the Hammond Pond Wild Forest. The two state agencies have been grappling with how to handle it for years.
Megan Phillips, deputy director for planning at the APA, said at the end of the 2024 boating season, the DEC will install a low barrier at the site to keep trailers from accessing the water. Access for canoes and kayaks will continue.
Ticonderoga Supervisor Mark Wright said the town board passed a resolution Thursday night in opposition to the APA’s decision.
“They didn’t ask for our opinion,” Wright said. “They just told us what was going to happen. (We’re) concerned about economic impacts to the area from the denial of trailered boats, not to mention what the residents have enjoyed to date.”
Wright said the town isn’t planning to take any other action at this time.
The Eagle Lake Property Owners, Inc. has argued blocking trailered boats makes the lake less accessible for some and could hurt property values. Leaders of that organization sent letters to residents on Feb. 9 asking for more information from those that wanted to help fight the change.
Rolf Tiedemann, treasurer of the homeowners group, said the APA’s decision is discriminatory and could endanger seven or eight people on the lake who can only access their homes via boat. Emergency responses via boat could be delayed because of the new barrier, Tiedemann said, and routine grocery shopping will be made more difficult. He worries about the seniors on the lake.
In 2019, the APA and DEC sought public comment on an update to a 1988 unit management plan for Hammond Pond Wild Forest, about 45,500 acres in Essex County. Unit management plans include assessments of an area’s natural resources, and identify opportunities for public and recreational use. The plans, however, must comply with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the leading policy document that sets land classifications and management actions for state-owned lands.
The boat launch was on the examining table because according to the master plan, only lakes over 1,000 acres may have a trailer-style boat launch. Eagle Lake is about 400 acres.
During that initial comment period, the state agencies had suggested three possibilities for the Eagle Lake boat launch. One was to take no action. The second was to convert the launch and bring it into conformance with the master plan, meaning keeping trailers from backing into the water. The third was to conduct an assessment of boat use to see if the lake could be reclassified as an intensive use area. That is an APA land classification which allows for more development.
Phillips said no matter what such an assessment would have found, Eagle Lake was still “not of adequate acreage to meet intensive use.”
APA Chairman John Ernst said the third possibility of conducting an assessment was supposed to be a “first crack” at a carrying capacity study of a water body “because it was small enough, discreet and it had a question.” He asked if that had been done. Carrying capacity is the maximum amount of something that an environment can withstand before there are negative impacts.
Phillips said the DEC did collect data for three different boating seasons, “but it was advanced so the agency could make a determination. We’ve determined the only SLMP (State Land Master Plan) conforming action is to proceed with alternative two.”
Tiedemann said the trailer launch has been open since at least the 1920s, but has been out of compliance since 1972 when the master plan was adopted. No one had done anything about it until now, he said. He wondered why a capacity study was suggested in the first place.
Charles Carnes says
More overreach again. It’s been there since the 20’s leave it alone.
Ralph Lane says
The most important option was never even elavaluated. Revise the master plan. Also no forward thinking of what boating will look like in the near future as the world transformation to electric propulsion is well underway. Was there any science used at any time in this design, if so we should review it. Why was trailers the tipping point? Are there issues with sail boats. The bridge height and boat launch already limit the size of any vessel that could realistically be used on the lake. There are multiple options these agencies could employ if they truly had any concern for public recreation, safety, landowners rights. They found ways to resolve other issues in the Adirondack Park, I have to wonder why not this one?
Dick Gunthert says
…yet the APA is considering the expansion of a small boat livery (formally Hickok’s) on Lower Fish Creek Pond (yes pond) to allow some 94 boat slips. The pond is accessed under a narrow bridge at one end and a long, meandering, narrow creek to Upper Saranac Lake at the other end. Go figure.
Alan G West says
L Wilkerson says
Lincoln Pond is less than 1000 acres and has a trailer boat ramp. Lincoln Pond is overused by powerboats. Can this ramp become canoe/kayak only?
There are of course other practical options which would be reasonable to consider. One would be to place a barrier at the launch which could be locked to restrict public trailer launching but could be unlocked to allow shoreline property owners and emergency responders to have limited access when necessary. There are certainly other such plans that could be considered; unfortunately, the APA and their watchdogs rarely consider practicality when it comes to interpreting the Master Plan. They almost always demand strict compliance with the plan and use the slippery slope argument to defend their stringent decisions. Little deference is given to how real people are affected.