The Upper Saranac Foundation (USF) has completed underwater mapping of the Upper Saranac Lake (USL) watershed — a key component of its updated Watershed Management Plan.
The bathymetric maps — or depth contour maps — illustrate the land that lies underwater, detailing the size and shape of subaquatic features to greater accuracy than ever before documented; USF looks to release these detailed maps to the public next summer.
A consistent boat grid pattern tracked the bottom using a multi-beam echo sounding unit, also known as sonar. The sonar delivered photo-like images of the bottom structure on both sides, and directly beneath the boat, and a GPS unit displayed the boat’s position on a detailed base map. Sonar images also detected biovolume (the density of aquatic vegetation) and the lake and pond’s bottom sediment hardness.
Mapping was completed for over 5,000 acres of the watershed, including Upper Saranac Lake, Fish Creek Ponds, Square Pond, and Follensby Clear Pond. This concludes a three-year mapping project that was funded by a grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
This bathymetric information, as part of the management plan, serves as a tool for performing scientific, geophysical, and environmental studies that assist in lake management decisions. The bathymetric maps depict littoral zones and substrates where aquatic invasive species (AIS) can grow and prosper. The use of the survey data can also assess the efficacy of AIS removal by analyzing pre- and post-management vegetative abundances in management areas.
USF was awarded a $68,000 grant from the DEC to purchase the necessary mapping equipment and to develop a management plan for the USL watershed. The plan guides a vision of a watershed that sustains exceptional water quality and healthy ecosystems that are managed and protected through science-based decisions, advocacy, and collaboration.
Vegetation Bio-volume mapping – Follensby Clear Pond