A Dam Decision

Notes from the North Woods

While Duck Hole pond will no longer support brook trout, the river will continue to offer fine, backcountry fishing.

While Duck Hole pond will no longer support brook trout, the river will continue to offer fine, backcountry fishing.

Further beyond the outlet dam, another dam stretched for over 300 yards along the south shore of the pond. This long, coffer dam, which was only five or six feet high, was also leaking.

Although several volunteer groups had been lobbying the DEC to restore the dams in recent years, Mother Nature ultimately made the decision when Tropical Storm Irene unleashed a torrent that washed out the dam.

As a result, Duck Hole was reduced to a smaller and shallower impoundment. Although it is still accessible via paddle and portage, the pond can no longer support the once thriving brook trout fishery, as the waters are simply too shallow.

However, I do expect the Cold River will continue to support a viable, brook trout fishery.

Despite a host of continued appeals, DEC spokesperson Lisa King explained in a recent email, “The agency does not intend to restore the dam at Duck Hole, in the High Peaks Wilderness area which was breached as a result of Tropical Storm Irene. By leaving it as is, the affected backcountry in this area can return to a more natural state.”

Currently, there are several dams in similarly deteriorating conditions, including the Cedar Lakes dam, and Marcy Dam. Without immediate attention to address these problems, there is a strong probability these other dams will suffer a similar fate.

According to a recent report authored by scientists at Cornell University, Columbia University and the City University of New York and funded, New Yorkers should begin preparing for hotter summers, snowier winters, severe floods and a range of other effects on the environment, communities and human health.

Released by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the report warns that climate change will drastically affect how we conduct our outdoor activities, warning that native brook trout and Atlantic salmon will decline, but bass will flourish in warmer waters.

Great Lakes water levels will fall. Coastal wetlands will be inundated, and saltwater will extend further up the Hudson River. Adirondack and Catskill spruce-fir forests will disappear, as invasive insects, weeds and other pests increase, and winters will tend to get wetter and summers drier.

“The flooding from Irene and Lee brought the classic types of impacts we project to occur in the report,” explained Art DeGaetano, a climate expert from Cornell.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net

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