TopKayaker.Net's Guide To Nature Issues For Kayakers

Oswegatchi canoe wilderness

The Sierra Club's Adirondack Committee is working to protect this land; Local business establishments are just as interested. Read on to understand the proposal and learn how you can contribute. (above photos by Athena Holtey)

Oswegatchi"Imagine putting your 'sit-on-top kayak' in at the foot of Little Tupper Lake and taking it out 50 miles later on the Beaver River. Imagine sharing this journey with loons, osprey, 'bald eagles,' 'bear,' spruce grouse, beaver, otter and moose..."

Yes, don't just go see it from your car window or through a camera lens; EXPERIENCE it from the open cockpit of your kayak. Located in New York's Adirondack Park, there are detailed maps available, wonderful guide books and beautifully located campsites.

This report contains excerpts from the publication: "Imagine: The Great Oswegatchie Canoe Wilderness" that drew us to choose this area for our first TopKayaker.net sponsored Fall Wilderness Expedition. We've returned from eight days exploring the Bog River Flow and Low's Lake, and can't wait to experience the rest. We'll share this adventure in a separate article, "Twenty-nine Miles on the Bog River & Low's Lake," but for now, read on to find out how you can help preserve this amazing wilderness.

"The proposal for the Great Oswegatchie Canoe Wilderness is part of the Sierra Club's Great Northern Forest Project, which works to preserve wild lands in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The 500,000 acres of the proposal would incorporate the Pigeon Lake Wilderness, Pepperbox Wilderness, and Five Ponds Wilderness, as well as contiguous primitive areas and the Whitney Wilderness. These state owned parcels would be combined with acquisitions from willing sellers to form the second largest wilderness area in the eastern United States.

Map-OswegatchiThis portion of Adirondack Park contains all or parts of the watersheds of the Oswegatchie, Bog, Beaver, Grass, Moose, and Raquette Rivers, and miles of historic canoe routes inaccessible for almost a century."

But the business community is just as excited about it:

"The opportunity to create a world class paddling destination such as the Great Oswegatchie Canoe Wilderness is an opportunity we cannot let slip by." said John Nemjo, owner of Mountainman Outdoor Supply company. "The future of the Adirondack Wilderness and of a sustainable local economy depends on developing ecotourism to its fullest potential. The Great Oswegatchie Canoe Wilderness will add millions of dollars to the Adirondack economy and protect one of the last great wild areas left to save in the continental United States."

TopKayaker.net's Fall Exedition was during bear hunting season. We interviewed John and he feels that Hunting season is too long and scares people away. During our expedition we were prepared for hunters with our blaze orange hats & vests, but did not see hide nor hair of them. We only heard shots once and never felt threated. While there were plenty of people around we were happy to not be in a crowd; maybe hunting season had something to do with that.

Nemjo continues: "Destinations in the O.C.W. include: Lows Lake, Tupper Lake, Lake Lila, the Oswegatchie River, Forked Lake, Stillwater Reservoir, Cranberry Lake and Little Tupper Lake. My favorite paddling spots in the canoe wilderness are Little Tupper Lake and Lake Lilia. Paddlers in this region should be prepared for extreme changes in the weather and biting insects in the spring. Also do not take on more than you can handle."

  • Paddling Season: When the waters are free of ice; May - October
  • Busy Season: July - August
  • Bug Season: May - June
  • Fall Foliage Peak: Late September
  • Hunting Season: September - October

"The Adirondacks is the largest park in the lower 48 states, containing 3000 lakes and ponds, 30,000 miles if rivers, and receiving 12 million visitors a year. The Oswagatchie Canoe Wilderness is a half a million acres mostly under state control, with some key areas still in private lands, a few of witch are lumber interests. These lands are slated to be obtained by the state if and when they can be purchased. When the proposed wilderness is complete you will be able to do looped paddling trips throughout the area."

"The Oswagatchie Canoe Wilderness is a great idea whose time has come. It will be bigger than the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and become the #1 paddling destination in the east. Not only will it help to create a motor free wilderness area, but it will also stimulate the local economy." John Nemjo, Mountainman Outdoor Supply Co.

"The largest remaining old growth forest in the eastern United States, a total of more than 50,000 acres, lies within the boundaries of the Great Oswegatchie Canoe Wilderness. Parts of the forest have never been logged or burned. Impressive stands of spruce, birch, and pine trees, some more than 200 years old, remain intact throughout the landscape, lending a primeval air to their surroundings...paddlers will travel great distances to reach an experience they can find only in wilderness - tranquil transport on a river's currents, or thrilling excursions through whitewater flumes. Hikers, birders, nature photographers, cross-country skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts also will enjoy this remote region, where it is possible to capture for a weekend or a week a sense of solitude and wonder in the natural world."

You can request more information about "The Great Oswegatchie Wilderness Proposal" by writing to:

Sierra Club
Attn: Oswegatchie
85 Washington Street
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

(518)587-9166 or ne-ny.field@sierraclub.org

The Sierra Club, founded by John Muir in 1892, is the largest and oldest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. In the early part of this century, Sierra Club volunteers helped ensure the creation of Yosemite and Glacier National parks. They worked for years to get the 1964 Wilderness Act passed by Congress, and they later helped to save the Grand Canyon, protect the Arctic Wildlife refuge, and create the Utah Redrock Wilderness. It's time to secure more northeastern wilderness and the Sierra Club Adirondack Committee has made a commitment to protect precious Adirondack lands. To learn more about the Sierra Club, go to http://www.sierraclub.org


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