Second Pond boat launch, southwest of the village of Saranac Lake on Route 3
Members of the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Board of Commissioners Thursday, June 14 are expected to review the Draft Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Second Pond Boat Launch, one of the most popular access points for the Saranac Chain of Lakes.
After their presentation, APA and state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) staff are expected to ask the State Land Committee to proceed with the public comment period, which precedes possible revisions and adoption of the final plan.
Second Pond is not really a pond at all; it is an 81-acre “widewater” of the Saranac River between Lower Saranac Lake and Oseetah Lake. The Second Pond Boat Launch is located on state Route 3 about 3.5 miles southwest of the village of Saranac Lake. It is the primary access for Lower Saranac Lake and the Saranac Lake Islands Campground.
While the boat launch is configured for 75 vehicles, parking overflows to Route 3 many times in the summer and up to 100 vehicles are using the site daily.
“This creates a hazard for visitors as well as for passing traffic,” states the Draft UMP. “There are accidents related to parking on the highway shoulder every year. The proposed reconstruction of the boat launch and parking area will make it possible to efficiently accommodate existing levels of use without patrons parking along the state highway.”
The management plan has six main objectives:
- Protect the site and surrounding lands and waters of the Forest Preserve.
- Provide for the safety of recreational users and vehicular traffic on Route 3.
- Improve access for visitors with disabilities.
- Inventory and control of aquatic and terrestrial invasive species.
- Provide more efficient use of the developed parking area.
- Make the facility compliant with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP).
It’s been decades since major repairs or rehabilitation have been made at the Second Pond Boat Launch, and the APA and DEC recommend a number of improvements to the site, starting as early as this year. Assuming there is an approved UMP, construction could start after Labor Day but could also be delayed until the fall of 2013. During construction, the launch will be fully closed to the public, and boaters will be directed to launches at Lake Flower, South Creek, Ampersand Bay, or one of the private marinas for lake access.
The improvements will include the following:
-The existing log cabin at the launch will be removed, and the site will be reclaimed.
-A new 8x12-foot booth will be constructed near the launch area. DEC staff will use the booth to register campers and to monitor the launch.
-A 20x30-foot firewood storage building will be constructed and will provide either local or treated wood for sale to campers.
-The launch ramp will be reconstructed with a double-ramped boat launch with a turnaround for vehicles.
-The new parking lot will be configured with about 100 spaces, and parking spaces will be provided for people with disabilities.
-The fixed wooden docks used for boats, canoes, kayaks and other watercraft will be replaced with ADA-compliant floating docks that will more easily accommodate boaters as water levels rise or fall during the season. The existing cribbing at the launch site will be removed.
-There will be a new entrance sign on Route 3 and a new information kiosk at the launch area to provide information about controlling the spread of invasive aquatic species.
-The bathroom building will be reconstructed with either composting toilets or above-ground pumpable vault units.
-DEC staff will work with the state Department of Transportation to prohibit parking along State Route 3 near the boat launch.
The construction changes will require an amendment to the State Land Master Plan, with 6.8 acres to be reclassified as part of the High Peaks Wilderness Area and 5.6 acres to be reclassified as Intensive Use.
Public comment will be accepted on the Draft UMP and public hearings will be held at DEC Headquarters in Albany and APA Headquarters in Ray Brook. The dates of the hearings were not set by press time.