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Partnership formed to focus on Raquette River watershed issues

 Long Lake in the Adirondacks
Pat Bradley
Long Lake in the Adirondacks

A new partnership has been formed by the Adirondack Council and the Northern Forest Canoe Trail to work on issues within the Raquette River watershed.

The Adirondack Council is partnering with the Northern Forest Canoe Trail to work with lake associations on water quality protection and preventing the spread of invasive species in a watershed that includes five major river systems.

Adirondack Council Communications Associate Justin Levine says the Raquette Lake and River watersheds impact millions of people across the Northeast.

“It’s not just in the Adirondack Park, though the headwaters for the Raquette Lake and Raquette River start in the Adirondack Park," explained Levine. "They flow through Blue Mountain Lake, through Long Lake, up to the St. Lawrence River, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the water quality in Raquette Lake has an impact on all these people in New York, Vermont, Quebec. It’s really an internationally important set of waterways.”

Levine explains that the Headwaters Campaign will hire a coordinator to work with lake associations to address local challenges while identifying and coordinating response to watershed scale issues.

“You can’t prevent invasive species in a river if invasive species are present in the lake that feeds that river," said Levine. "So we need to protect the headwaters. We want to bring the importance of water quality in the Adirondack Park to everybody who is affected by that water quality. So it doesn’t matter that you’re along the St. Lawrence Seaway or you’re along the Hudson River downstate, that water quality is impacted by what happens here in the Adirondack Park. Again, we’re trying to get people to think on a watershed scale. You can’t just worry about the stream that’s in front of your house. You have to worry about where that stream goes and where it came from as well.”

Northern Forest Canoe Trail Executive Director Karrie Thomas notes that Raquette Lake, Long Lake and Blue Mountain Lake are the headwaters of the Raquette River watershed and affect each other.

“The water from Blue Mountain Lake flows into Raquette Lake. The water from Raquette Lake flows into Long Lake. And they also are geographically positioned close together. So they’re all really integral to one another’s work," said Thomas. "All of these lake associations were having some challenges. We realized, or they realized, that it was a need, a real need, for these lake associations to better engage people to continue the good work especially around invasives and certainly around other water quality issues.”

Because the Adirondack Council does not take government funding, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail obtained a federal grant that will allow the partnership to hire a Headwaters Campaign Coordinator.