Rafting with Beaver Brook Outfitters, based in Wevertown, which specializes in whitewater rafting trips on the Hudson River
ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo Wednesday, Jan. 9 proposed launching the Adirondack Challenge, a national whitewater rafting competition in the North Country, during his annual State of the State address.
But will it be held in the whitewater capital of the Adirondacks — the stretch of Indian River and the Hudson River between Indian Lake and North Creek? Nobody’s talking yet.
It is not clear where in the North Country the Adirondack Challenge would be held; however, there is a possibility that it could be held on the Hudson River around North Creek. Several calls to the governor’s press office were not returned.
Yet, Cuomo and friends did take a whitewater rafting trip down the Hudson River with the Wevertown-based Beaver Brook Outfitters in 2012.
“As we were guiding Governor Cuomo down the Hudson this past fall, there was much discussion about the rafting challenge and other ways to bring more tourism to our area,” wrote Beaver Brook Outfitters’ Bone Basye in an email. “This is a great and positive thing for all of us.”
Beaver Brook Outfitters owner Pete Burns said he, Bayse and three other licensed guides took Cuomo, his friends and a security detail down the Indian and Hudson Rivers for an overnight trip on Sept. 8-9, 2012 using three rafts for passengers and two for equipment. Burns said he'd like to see the Adirondack Challenge in his neck of the woods.
"Bring it on," Burns said.
Gore Mountain Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Pat Hamilton had not heard about the Adirondack Challenge, but she said North Creek would welcome the new event.
“We’re all hoping that it’s here,” Hamilton said. “We think it’s the logical choice. We know he came up last year, and I think he had an enjoyable trip from what Pete said. And so maybe that’s what prompted him to think about this type of an event is that he had such an enjoyable trip.”
Logistics, however, could be a problem, as the Lake Abanakee dam releases water to create a “bubble” for rafters to ride down the Indian and Hudson rivers, and the water release only lasts for two hours. The question remains, will that be long enough for this type of competition?
Although the governor hinted that a date was already set, nobody could be reached to explain any details about the competition.
Cuomo made light of the rafting competition during his PowerPoint presentation while giving the speech, showing himself in a white raft with the state seal while handling a motor, plus other notables — including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — in rafts.
“I hope the challenge is accepted, and I hope it is successful,” Cuomo said.
Warren County Tourism Director Kate Johnson said she didn’t have any details about the competition, but she remembered the governor mentioning it when he held a media day in September to show off the Boreas Ponds prior to the state’s imminent acquisition of the former Finch, Pruyn lands.
Adirondack Regional Tourism Council Executive Director Ron Ofner also had no details on the challenge or other parts of the governor’s speech. He referred questions to Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (formerly the Lake Placid/Essex County Visitor Bureau) Executive Director Jim McKenna, who referred questions to the governor’s press office.
While state Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) or her staff didn’t have specifics, she said she would like to compete on Adirondack whitewater.
“I look forward to recruiting a team of colleagues to compete in the Adirondack whitewater rafting challenge!” Little said.
Cuomo is no stranger to the Adirondacks. He recently spent a vacation the Tri-Lakes region around Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. He frequently visits the region with his family, including live-in girlfriend Sandra Lee, the Food Network star.
“It’s a reflection of the governor’s real interest in the Adirondacks as a recreational and tourism center for the state and an opportunity to get officials here to appreciate what the region has to offer,” said Dan MacEntee, spokesman for Sen. Little.
Market NY to Focus on Upstate Economic Development
Below is the text of the governor’s economic development proposal in his Jan. 9 speech.
•The Adirondack Challenge: Noting that New York has some of the best whitewater rafting in the nation, the Governor proposed a national whitewater rafting competition to be held in the North Country.
•$5 Million Advertising Competition: A $5 million advertising competition for the best regional marketing plans will be launched, incentivizing counties to work together to forge regional synergies.
•Taste-NY: The Taste-NY initiative will coordinate around promoting New York products, including creating duty-free "Taste-NY" stores across the state to promote New York grown and produced products.
•Destination Resorts/Casino Gaming: To increase upstate tourism, the Governor proposed a casino gaming plan that would locate up to three casinos in Upstate New York. Under the proposal, casino gaming revenue will be split 90% for education and 10% for local property tax relief.