APA moves to ban float-planes from Lows Lake

LONG LAKE - As of Dec. 31, 2011, the presence of float-planes on Lows Lake will be no more.

The Adirondack Park Agency approved the ban April 16, putting to rest a contentious issue that has pitted local governments and float-plane operators against environmental organizations.

"This decision is not really a compromise, it is a postponement of a ban," Helms Aero Service Owner and float-plane pilot Tom Helms said April 17. "The underpinning of our business is flying to remote locations - and Lows Lake was a place we frequently flew people into."

There are currently two commercial float-plane businesses operating in the park - Helms in Long Lake and Payne's Seaplanes in Inlet.

The eight-mile long lake has been a popular destination for bass fisherman since the early 1990's and is located in northern Hamilton County and southern St. Lawrence County.

Helms said that approximately 40 percent of his net revenue comes directly from flights to Lows Lake.

For environmental organizations, the decision is a victory. Some canoeists have complained to state officials, stating that the noise caused by the frequent float-plane landings was inconsistent with the goals of the State Land Master Plan and ruining their wilderness experience.

"We have been looking at the impact on the canoe experience," APA Commissioner Jim Connelly said April 17.

According to environmental organizations - who pushed the issue - the presence of float-planes on Lows Lake is in direct conflict with the "wild character" of the area.

"We do not believe the serenity of the lake should be compromised because the state and the float-plane operators can't agree," Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks Chairman Bob Harrison said at a recent public hearing regarding the issue. "Continued operation of float-planes is a direct violation of the edicts of the state land master plan-we would like to see the lake designated as wilderness as soon as possible said at a recent public hearing regarding the issue."

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