Shoreline erosion occurs naturally over time as a result of wind, precipitation, and wave action. However, human activities such as boater recreation and shoreline construction can increase erosion, which has damaging effects on wildlife, water quality, property values, and recreation.
Wakes from motorized vessels accelerate erosion by exposing or uprooting vegetation and causing banks to collapse. Wake impact also causes increased sedimentation, which degrades the aquatic ecosystems and contributes to the degradation of the fish population.
New recreational water sports such as wake surfing and wakeboarding are on the rise in popularity on Adirondack lakes. Unfortunately, these activities can increase shoreline erosion. With caution, these sports can be enjoyed while their impacts on shoreline erosion can be mitigated.
The extent of erosion caused by wakes depends on the vessel’s distance from shore, hull size, weight, speed, and the depth of the water. While New York State Navigation Law mandates that boats do not exceed 5 mph within 100 feet of shore in an effort to prevent shoreline erosion, there is more that we can do.
What you can do to help protect the Upper Saranac Lake Watershed:
- Reduce speed and wakes within 500 feet of shore.
- Do not add ballast or other extra weight to your boat, as it artificially enhances wakes above safe heights.
- Motor near rocky, undeveloped shorelines as opposed to sandy or marshy areas or sensitive wetlands.
- Avoid motorboating in tight circles.
- Visit different areas and stay toward the center of the lake to minimize impact in any single area.
- Avoid motoring in shallow or heavily vegetated waters.
Make sure to adhere to all state and local laws regarding passenger safety, noise levels, and environmental regulations before heading out on the water.