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The damned dams of the Adirondacks

Notes from the North Woods

Marcy Dam no longer provides this scenic vista. The pond has been greatly reduced, and it consists of a number of small streams running through a wide field of mud and debris. Eventually, vegatation such as tag alder will reclaim the mudflats and beaver may even move back to the region to establish a colony and revive the pond.

Marcy Dam no longer provides this scenic vista. The pond has been greatly reduced, and it consists of a number of small streams running through a wide field of mud and debris. Eventually, vegatation such as tag alder will reclaim the mudflats and beaver may even move back to the region to establish a colony and revive the pond.

Dams provide opportunities for power, navigation, fish barriers, and often serve as bridges for snowmobilers, hikers, bikers and skiers. They can also improve the aesthetics of an area by creating ponds and lakes.

Dams also create environments suitable for fresh water species such as brook trout, while also providing effective upstream barriers that prevent the introduction of non-native and invasive species of both flora and fauna. These are just a few of the benefits provided by backwoods dams and the bridges that are supported by them.

In recent years, there have been a number of the damn dams in the news. Most recently, the dam of note has been a popular and scenic structure located at Marcy Dam, which has long been considered the main Gateway into the High Peaks Wilderness Area.

In fact, Marcy Dam is likely one of the most iconic man made structures in the entire High Peaks region.

It is located on a popular and easily accessible travel corridor that receives heavy traffic all year round.

The location is typically one of the first places for hikers, snowshoers or cross-country skiers to stop and rest as they travel into the heart of the High Peaks from Adirondak Loj.

On a typical summer day, it’s not uncommon to find a couple of dozen travelers hanging out on the bridge, or find their food bags hanging from it.

Prior to the arrival of Hurricane Irene in August of 2011, most first time visitors would be awestruck by the scene, when they first gazed across the small pond towards a stunning vista of Mount Colden, Avalanche Pass, and Wright Peak.

Typically, their jaws would drop before their packs hit the ground, as they took in the scene of the small backwoods pond, impounded by a log crib dam with a few Adirondack leantos sprinkled about.

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