The state Supreme Court recently blocked a permit for a marina on Lower Saranac Lake issued by the state Adirondack Park Agency (APA). The decision will likely have implications affecting the proposed expansion on Lower Fish Creek Pond.
The Lower Saranac Lake Marina owners are also the newest proprietors of the former Hickok’s Marina on Lower Fish Creek Pond. Under the name Upper Saranac Marina, similar expansion plans look to increase its dock slips to accommodate 94 boats and extend 200 feet out into the pond. These plans have already been approved by the Town of Santa Clara. A permit application was submitted to the APA for the Lower Fish Creek Pond marina but was found to be incomplete in the fall of 2022. A complete application has yet to be submitted.
While the court invalidated the Lower Saranac Lake permit due to impacts on wetlands, the ruling chastised the APA for not conducting a carrying capacity study before issuing the permit. The court sent a clear message to the state that it has a responsibility to study a water body’s ability to sustain various uses, including motorized boats, calling the state’s failure to do so “wholly unexplained and, indeed, inexplicable.”
Carrying capacity studies evaluate human influences on lakes and ponds and creates a better understanding of the water body’s ability to withstand various watercraft uses and boater traffic impacts. The New York State Land Master Plan instructs the state Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct “a comprehensive study of Adirondack lakes and ponds… to determine each water body’s capacity to withstand various uses” — especially motorized uses. A carry capacity study for Lower Fish Creek Pond has not been done. In fact, the state acknowledged in court records that it has not completed a carrying capacity study on any Adirondack lake.