Whitewater, country roads and kids in the woods

It's been an interesting week on the recreational front as a number of access issues have come to a head.

While diminishing water levels on the Hudson, Moose, Black and other northern rivers have robbed whitewater rafters of the usual 'big water' adventures this spring season; the prospect of a new Adirondack whitewater playground loom with a recent decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). A recent FERC ruling will require New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) to provide public access to a section of the upper Ausable Chasm for whitewater enthusiasts.

The river section, located downstream from the village of Keeseville in Ausable Chasm has long been closed to the public.

However, through the joint effort of the Adirondack Mountain Club and American Whitewater, a national paddler's advocacy group; FERC has ordered NYSEG to provide public access to the river from Memorial Day through October 31.

The three and a half mile stretch of the Ausable River, which begins below the NYSEG powerhouse at Rainbow Falls. It features a variety of big drops and standing rapids, rated Class IV on the American whitewater scale. Due to a consistent flow of water, the prospective new river run is stirring up a great deal of interest among whitewater paddlers.

Ausable Chasm Corporation, operators of Ausable Chasm which is the oldest tourist attraction in the country, have been offering rafting and tubing adventures for their guests for several years.

Local residents and area rescue personnel have railed against FERC's decision, due to the potential difficulty of rescue presented by the soaring cliffs of the chasm.

In other access news, the Department of Environmental Conservation has settled a long running battle with Jim McCulley of Lake Placid for driving his snowmobile and a pickup truck on Old Mountain Road.

The road, connecting the towns of Keene and North Elba, is located on the backside of Pitchoff Mountain.

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