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Old 07-26-2012, 02:14 PM   #1
ALGonquin Bob
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Campsite changes in St. Regis Canoe Area

I was recently informed that DEC is involved in closing some campsites (and rehabbing others), and adding several new sites in the St. Regis Canoe Area. That sounds fine, but the problem is, if they close nice sites and the new sites are anything like the newer sites DEC built on the eastern end of Round Lake (near Little Tupper) a few years ago (and I'm told they are), they will be set quite far back from the pond or lake, will offer no water views, and like those on Round Lake, will not be anywhere I would want to camp. Has anyone seen the new sites or noticed all the sites that were closed? I was planning to visit SRCA next week, but if the DEC had made camping there unattractive, I'll go elsewhere.

From the DEC website:
CampingThere are 75 primitive tent sites and 3 lean-tos along the shores of the many waters of the canoe area. In accordance with the St. Regis Canoe Areas Unit Management Plan members of the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program (SCA), under the supervision of DEC, created 14 new campsites, closed and rehabilitated 18 campsites, relocated 5 campsites, restored 5 campsites and replaced on lean-to. In 2011, DEC and SCA plan to create 7 new campsites, move 3 campsites and close 5 campsites. Please help the restored areas to recover by respecting closure signs.

http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/70572.html
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Old 07-26-2012, 02:30 PM   #2
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Bob,

You might want to check out the State Land Master Plan rules for primitive campsites on the Adirondack Park Agency's website to gain a greater understanding of what is being done here and elsewhere to protect the wilderness nature of the St. Regis. The campsites on Long Pond have been badly degraded by overuse, improper separation distances and in some cases the sites have been informally expanded to 3 times the intended size by campers that do not respect wilderness. I understand the desire of some for a panoramic view from a campsite but understand also that shoreline campsites are in everyone else's viewshed which is inconsistent with the wilderness and is more consistent with the attributes of a drive in state park.
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Old 07-26-2012, 02:47 PM   #3
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I certainly understand the need to rehab overused sites, but widely dispersed sites with a tent in view don't detract from the experience; I dont try to fool myself into thinking that is wilderness. Have you seen a site that is cut into the woods like DEC did on Round Lake? The tent site is way up a hill in the trees (think lots of bugs), the fire rings are ridiculously tiny and also located in a wooded area, and not much of a place to sit by the water or even to haul a canoe out for the night. Even within the DEC, this does not seem to be a popular program. I'm asking if anyone has seen the changes in the SRCA yet.
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Last edited by ALGonquin Bob; 07-26-2012 at 03:02 PM..
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Old 07-26-2012, 03:45 PM   #4
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In some cases the sites were moved a little more inland. For example those which were on a point were devoid of any undergrowth and consisted of a few large trees. These sites were closed and a new one created slightly more inland. In some cases the point has already begun to regrow. Other new sites, one in particular on a pond connected to Long, was up a hill in the middle of the woods. Looked like they raked an area to show where a tent would fit, and placed a few stones in a circle to show where a fire could go. This was like the Round Lake sites you describe. I do not know when the site was created, but the firepit had never been used. Oh, this was in the middle of a coniferous woods. Looked like a forest fire just waiting to happen.
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Old 07-26-2012, 03:54 PM   #5
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[QUOTE=ALGonquin Bob;189145]... the fire rings are ridiculously tiny...QUOTE]

Good!
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Old 07-26-2012, 05:01 PM   #6
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DuctTape - thanks for the info.
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Old 07-26-2012, 05:25 PM   #7
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I believe that DEC is trying to set new campsites well back from the shore for multiple reasons. A few years ago, I checked out all the newly designated sites at a lake that had just become NY State property (not Round Lk). The one that I stayed at had a flat spot barely big enough enough for a solo tent. None had pleasant places to sit by the shore. I'll go back again someday anticipating the material changes from what I expect has been regular use.

I know that there are a few other lakes/ponds where DEC has designated new sites well back from the shore and will likely close off established ones right on the shore. If people don't like the new ones and elect to either stop camping or go elsewhere, I don't see the problem if it helps the lands recover.
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Old 07-26-2012, 05:35 PM   #8
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Problem is the new set-back hidden sites are (IMHO) not pleasant to stay in and campers are not using them as much as the DEC brain trust would want, thus concentrating the use even more on the remaining sites that people do like. If DEC wants to discourage people from using those public areas, they are on their way to accomplishing that dubious goal.
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:54 AM   #9
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i was up in the SRCA last august and saw many of these new sites first-hand. my trip took me from long pond up thru fish and down back thru st. regis pond. some of the new sites were very nice, but some were laughably bad. really small, tough to get to, and strangely overgrown for "new" sites. probably because nobody uses them. i really don't know what they were thinking with a few of these sites.

however, most of them appeared to be good or at least acceptable. i had no trouble finding a place that worked for me each night.
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Old 07-27-2012, 06:15 PM   #10
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I had similar experiences with St Regis Pond - Long Pond: some good, some not so good. Didn't spoil my trips. I was practically alone on St. Regis. Long Pond was busy and hard to find an open site but did so with effort.
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Old 07-29-2012, 01:28 AM   #11
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I was at Long Pond last week and absolutely hate what the DEC has done there. The new sites, of which there are far fewer than the amount that were closed, are set way back from the water and tiny to the point of being nearly useless. I applaud the goal of reducing impact and retaining the wilderness character on Adirondack lakes, but would rather see it applied to places like Cranberry Lake, or the Saranac Lakes, or any other Adirondack water that suffers from overdevelopment and motorized use. Which is most of them. The best way to reduce impact on wilderness waterways is to create more of them and spread the impact out.
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Old 07-30-2012, 10:01 AM   #12
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Welcome, paddlers, to the hikers world. They've been doing this for years to the Leantos; witness the destruction of the formerly beautiful and useful LTs at Slant Rock, Spruce Lake #1, etc.

Sure it's better for the resource; if you make the campsite or leanto so ridiculously far from the water that it's inaccessible, the people will simply not go there at all - which I'm convinced is the goal for some.
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Old 08-16-2012, 07:56 PM   #13
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I just came back from a few days in these waters. I generally support the need to close sites and allow them to re-establish....but...the sites that were re-opened on St. Regis are pitiful. There is literally no provision made for getting a canoe in or out of most of them. I looked at one (7?) that had a virtual cliff to ascend from the lake. In a strong wind someone in a wooden canoe would be in tears trying to land there.

If the DEC needs to find a way to occupy folks this summer they should devote a bit of effort to repairing the exits and entries from the Mud Pond and Ochre carries. These are so neglected that they have become dangerous.

It is only a matter of time before some slips on the rotted planks and logs and impales themselves on the spikes that are sticking out.
Then the state will have lawsuits to contend with and a bigger problem than the mess they are making with the campsites.

IMHO......
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Old 08-27-2012, 09:28 PM   #14
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re: experiences at new SRCA sites

Quote:
Originally Posted by mgc View Post
I just came back from a few days in these waters. I generally support the need to close sites and allow them to re-establish....but...the sites that were re-opened on St. Regis are pitiful. There is literally no provision made for getting a canoe in or out of most of them. I looked at one (7?) that had a virtual cliff to ascend from the lake. In a strong wind someone in a wooden canoe would be in tears trying to land there.

If the DEC needs to find a way to occupy folks this summer they should devote a bit of effort to repairing the exits and entries from the Mud Pond and Ochre carries. These are so neglected that they have become dangerous.

It is only a matter of time before some slips on the rotted planks and logs and impales themselves on the spikes that are sticking out.
Then the state will have lawsuits to contend with and a bigger problem than the mess they are making with the campsites.

IMHO......
Am feeling kind of conflicted about the issues raised here. I was in the SRCA last week and happened to stay at that exact site on St Regis Pond, #7, cited by mgc, the one with the cliff-side ascent. I chose it because it was available and faced southward. Underwater was smooth stones and no muck. The landing, though very steep, had a series of transverse tree roots as steps, making put ins and take outs tolerable in the dry conditions I was lucky to have. [I would not have been happy to try it in wet weather.] There was a long winding trail inland to the prepared camp area. It was small, too small to maintain recommended distances between cooking and sleeping areas, but it was workable, and there was a thunder box. All in all, I was impressed with the amount of work it takes to develop a new site from scratch, imperfect as it was, inferior to the older sites I had stayed at earlier. I was grateful for those who did the hard work. On the other hand, I do see the potential liability.
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Old 08-28-2012, 10:06 AM   #15
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Srca

I am all for the smaller sites as it keeps the number in a party down and the thunder boxes are a great idea as too many people don't have a clue on how to properly dispose of waste and toilet paper. However I do disagree with locating a site way off the water. The whole point of camping on a lake is to use it (swimming, fishing) and view it. If the site is up in the woods and there is no area to enjoy the water it defeats the purpose. We love our morning coffee and evening wine by the water. Bad idea IMHO.
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Old 08-28-2012, 08:05 PM   #16
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I apologize for an error in my post #14 above. The new site #7 at St Regis Pond does not have a thunder box. I was confusing it with another site, on Little Long Pond, at which I also stayed last week.

I agree with Richard P in that I much prefer a site closer to the water. In fact, when at that St Regis Pond site, I ate my meals closer to the water, leaning against a fallen log at the edge of a trail leading to the water's edge. This trail looked like it might have been part of a failed attempt to create a landing spot. I wonder if the crew that made the site had to struggle with multiple attempts to put together the elements of a better site and ended up having to settle for less than they had hoped?
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Old 08-28-2012, 11:08 PM   #17
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No one from the DEC is going to come out and say this, but it doesn't seem like much of a reach to guess that the idea is to make worse sites so less people use the area. The DEC is a conservation department, not necessarily a recreation one. First duty is to nature. If a man made feature promotes more use of a region than the environment seems to be able to handle then they alter it to make it less appealing. It isn't an error or some other form of incompetence that these sites are poorer than those that came before. It is an intentional ploy to keep people away. It is the same practice as removing many of the lean-tos in the high usage areas like the high peaks. You can get mad and stop using the sites if you want. They'd probably prefer you understood why they want you to use the region less versus being angry about it, but mainly they'd just rather you use it less in any mood.
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Old 08-30-2012, 02:51 PM   #18
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I'd have more respect for the DEC's position if they applied this same logic to the motorboat infested areas and limited motorized use and camping. Last time I checked, there were still a hundred or so sites on the Saranac Lakes. Why not close some of those? Oh right, because those sites are paid, and largely used by the motor boat crowd.

If the DEC really wants to get serious about reducing impact on Adirondack lakes, they should start by banning motorboats on a significant number of lakes and ponds. There is no greater impact on Adirondack waters than motor boat use. Also, the best way to reduce the impact from campers is to create more canoe wilderness areas and spread the impact out. The reason the sites on St Regis Pond, Long Pond, Low's, Lila, etc, see so much use is that there is so little accessible, backcountry motorfree waters in the Adirondacks.
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Old 08-31-2012, 07:33 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richard p View Post
However I do disagree with locating a site way off the water. The whole point of camping on a lake is to use it (swimming, fishing) and view it. If the site is up in the woods and there is no area to enjoy the water it defeats the purpose. We love our morning coffee and evening wine by the water. Bad idea IMHO.

X2 I agree wholeheartedly.
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Old 08-31-2012, 08:27 AM   #20
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Motor Free Canoeing

The reason the sites on St Regis Pond, Long Pond, Low's, Lila, etc, see so much use is that there is so little accessible, backcountry motorfree waters in the Adirondacks.[/QUOTE]

Ahhhhhh, if only we could have a large area like the Boundry Waters in MN.
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