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Ausable Chasm Open Flow Study Planned

Posted: 05/31/2005
By: Kevin Colburn







            Paddlers wishing to paddle the Class IV/V Ausable Chasm section of New York's Ausable River will be allowed to do so on 5 days this year.  The dates planned for 2005 are:







·        Saturday, June 25

·        Sunday, July 10

·        Sunday, July 24

·        Saturday, September 24, and

·        Saturday, October 22.


            Access to the Upper Ausable Chasm has not been possible due to the high gorge walls, and private and secured property owned by the New York State Electric and Gas Corporation and (NYSEG) the Ausable Chasm Company. 


As part of its relicensing effort, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has recently required NYSEG to allow access to the Ausable River near its Rainbow Falls hydroelectric facility and to work in collaboration with the Adirondack Mountain Club, American Whitewater, Ausable Chasm Company, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Trout Unlimited to develop a whitewater study plan. 


This study is a follow-up to a limited study that was conducted in 2001.  Together these groups will work with boaters, anglers and other river users  during the study periods.  At the conclusion of the test runs, the study will be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, who will evaluate the results to determine the feasibility of allowing whitewater access at the Rainbow Falls project.


The primary objectives of the study are to gauge kayaker flow preferences, access needs, potential river user conflicts, demand for whitewater boating, and the feasibility of whitewater boating in regards to safety and coordination.  To accomplish these study goals, paddlers will be allowed to paddle the Ausable Chasm on 5 days throughout 2005, which were chosen to provide a range of naturally-occurring flows.  All paddlers wishing to paddle the river will be required to


·        sign up in advance via email or phone,

·        sign waiver/release of liability agreement forms prior to paddling,

·        fill out pre and post run surveys,

·        attend a mandatory safety briefing at 11:00 am prior to each run, followed by coordinated scouting of the river,

·        comply with study protocols and specific ground rules of NYSEG and the Ausable Chasm Company (attach or include at the end of the invitation),

·        respect private lands,

·        show respect and provide common courtesies to other users of the river and on adjacent property, and

·        arrive at the put-in location fully equipped with standard safety gear, as described in the "Safety Code of American Whitewater."  Reference


Basic Information on the Ausable Chasm Whitewater Run


River:  Ausable, NY


Section:  Ausable Chasm from the NYSEG powerhouse to U.S. Route 9 Bridge


Class:  Rated as Class IV-V at 745 cubic feet per second (cfs); Classification rating by AW


Length: Approximately 3.4 miles


Targeted Flow Range: 300 - 1000 cfs, with decreasing flows likely throughout season.  A previous study was run at 745 cfs


Gage: USGS gage at Ausable River near Ausable Forks, approximately 13 miles upstream of the put-in. Gage data can be accessed at


Character: Drop/Pool, vertical cliffs


Rapid (class at 745 cfs): Horseshoe Falls (IV), Devil's Oven (IV+), Mike's Hole aka Clydes Cave (IV/V), Table Rock (II+), Concrete Wall (II/III), Whirlpool (II);  Rapid classifications by AW


Portaging: Difficult, potentially impossible at some locations


Scouting: Scouting will be allowed at river level (where possible), as well as from the Ausable Chasm Company's (ACC) private lands along the gorge rim.  Paddlers scouting from the gorge rim and walkways are guests of the ACC and must follow all ACC rules.  Note: All visitors must pay to enter the ACC complex, therefore scouters may also be required to pay a nominal entry fee to access the ACC property.


Proximity: Burlington, VT: 14 miles; Plattsburgh, NY: 13 miles; Lake Placid, NY: 36 miles; Montreal, QC: 81 miles; Albany, NY: 147 miles


Safety:  Paddlers are responsible for providing their own safety measures, and are encouraged to take all possible precautions.  At a minimum, all paddlers must adhere to all AW safety requirements.


            Paddlers are responsible for their own decisions regarding whether or not to participate in this study.  The Upper Ausable Chasm is only appropriate for experienced groups of Class IV/V paddlers using appropriate whitewater equipment.  Note: There is no plan to have a dedicated emergency rescue team (i.e., local fire department) on site or on a stand-by basis during the test runs.  Rescue response will be initiated on an as needed basis.  Those lacking appropriate skills and equipment are STRONGLY discouraged from participating in the study.  Curious paddlers are encouraged to visit the ACC and pay for a tour prior to or during the study dates.  Qualified paddlers are encouraged to participate in as many study days as possible to assure that the study has ample data. 


            We look forward to a fun and safe whitewater boating study this year.  To sign up for a study date, simply email or call Yvonne Rockwell at Northern Ecological Associates, Inc. at least 7 days prior to the study date indicating the date(s) on which you wish to participate, your contact information (Name, Address, Phone Number, Email Address) and if you are certified to administer CPR. 


            Thank you for considering participating in the 2005 Ausable Chasm Whitewater Boating Study.   Please sign up in advance by notifying Jennifer Laslovich at (716) 679-7909 or




Kevin Colburn

302 Donnybrook Dr

Asheville, NC 28806-9518

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