Residents air objections to float plane restrictions

WARRENSBURG - Adirondack residents expressed dismay this week that the days of float planes landing on a popular canoeing and fishing destination - Lows Lake in Hamilton County- may be numbered.

The opinions were aired Feb. 18 as the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency held a public hearing reviewing a pending compromise between these two agencies that would cease all float plane access to the lake on Dec. 31, 2012.

Last fall, the APA rejected a DEC plan that would have extended float plane access to Lows Lake until 2018, citing the their regional land use plan for Lows Lake and the surrounding public lands which has a stated goal of creating a wilderness area void of motorized vehicles - a pristine, tranquil location for canoeing and fishing.

The pending prohibition is another milestone in the ongoing struggle between those who prefer or need motorized access to remote Adirondack regions, and those who enjoy backwoods areas quiet, rustic and primitive. If adopted, the pending compromise would change the land use designation of Lows Lake from primitive to wilderness. The latter category has significantly more restrictions than the former.

A number of residents at the hearing objected to the proposed land use amendment.

"Float planes have been used as a means of accessing remote locations like Lows Lake since the 1920s," said Payne's Seaplane and Air Service Co-Owner and Operator Tom Payne. "Flying into lakes is a wilderness experience, too."

Payne is a fourth-generation bush pilot whose family has been transporting outdoor enthusiasts to Lows Lake for nearly a century. According to Payne, prohibiting access to the lake would be a drastic hit for not only his business, but for the economic viability of communities like Inlet and Long Lake, where float plane businesses have thrived for decades.

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