Fulton Chain of Lakes Association

Our Mission

The Fulton Chain of Lakes Association was founded in 1968 with a mission of protecting the waters of the Fulton Chain of Lakes in New York's Central Adirondacks. On this website you will find helpful information about our organization and how you can help us with our mission of preserving and protecting the unique environment of the Fulton Chain of Lakes and surrounding woodlands. For the past fifty years, we have been active in matters involving both water quality and water safety on our lakes. Click here for our membership application - we hope you will join us in supporting our mission!

Our Surroundings

The Fulton Chain of Lakes is part of a river system originally dammed at Old Forge c. 1798. Water flows through the Fulton Chain starting at 8th Lake and finally enters the Middle branch of the Moose River at the Old Forge Dam. The North branch of the Moose River joins the Middle Branch below the dam. The river then flows past the town of Lyons falls to the Black River, northwest to Carthage then on to Watertown, and finally into the Black River Bay on Lake Ontario.

In the late 1800s, the State Water Power Commission made an agreement with Fulton Chain cottage owners and recreational users to maintain the water level during the summer season, an agreement still in effect.

The Fulton Chain starts at the present dam at Old Forge and holds back 6.8 billion gallons of water covering over 4,300 acres with over a 16 miles length. At their deepest section, the lakes are around 85 ft. The lakes average 1706 ft above sea level. The Fulton Chain reservoir is managed by the Hudson River - Black River Regulating District.

The Lower Fulton Chain starts at Old Forge Pond, travels the 1-mile channel or "Narrows" to First Lake, then to Second and Third, through a channel to Fourth Lake then past Eagle Bay and on to Inlet and into Fifth Lake - a total distance of about 10 miles. The Chain continues through to Fifth lake, from there one must portage their boat to Sixth and Seventh Lakes, which are navigable from one to the other. The remainder of the length, from the foot of Sixth Lake dam to the head of Eighth Lake adds another 6 miles. Eighth Lake is accessible once again by portage only. In addition to several private marina’s there are New York State boat launches on Fourth, Seventh and Eighth Lakes.

Please as you use the lakes, be respectful of the environment and help us continue to keep our waters clean. Maintaining the purity of the Fulton Chain waters is essential to the local economy and its residents’ and visitors’ quality of life.

Our History

In 1966, a group of lake front property owners suspected the waters of the lake to be polluted. They conducted water tests that resulted in bacterial levels that exceeded levels which would permit public swimming. As a result of this testing the N.Y.S. Health Department threatened to close the public swimming beach located on Old Forge Pond. The number of ear infections and other health related problems occurring in Old Forge were a direct result of the poor water quality in the Fulton Chain.

Lake area residents and businesses looked to state and local agencies for assistance but because of the limited government resourses it became clear government help would not be forthcoming. As a result, many volunteers banded together to clean up the lake themselves. They held public meetings; they called upon other residents; they wrote endless letters to public officials and eventually in 1968 formed the Fulton Chain of Lakes Improvement Association, now recognized as the Fulton Chain of Lakes Association.

The purpose of the organization was and is today to protect our most precious resource, the water and watershed of the Fulton Chain of Lakes. The Association’s incorporation was signed September 15, 1968, at the home of Tom Shepherd. The initial signatures of the document were: Tom McCabe, Sr., Larry Doering, Lou Bonnett, L.C. Howell, Alan Burstein, Emilie Jones, Hubert Jones, Edward Mc Laughlin, Thomas Shepherd, and Ross Zornow. The election of officers was conducted on September 24, 1968. The following people were elected. Hubert Jones, President, L. C. Howell, V. P., Frieda Scholl, Secretary, Carlton Barker, Treasurer. The Board of Directors included Marjorie Simpson Bonnett, Reverend Francis Edie, Roger Dean, Alan Burstein, Esquire, Lou Bonnett, Russell Johnson, Larry Doering, Tom McCabe, Sr. Bill Brodock, Charles Grove, Don Burnap, and Bill Tidd.

The Board established a sanitary code that was eventually adopted by the Town of Webb Board. The code specified distances allowed between septic systems and the lake and other related rules. With the increase of membership from 150 the first year to 600 the next year enough money was raised to hire a full-time inspector who conducted dye tests of septic systems, issued violations and collected lake water samples for testing. The inspector worked closely with the Towns of Webb and Inlet Codes Enforcement Officers.

Numerous violations of the new code were discovered by dye testing residents’ septic systems. Most homeowners were not aware that they were in violation. As they were notified of defects in their system, the majority of homeowners quickly corrected the problem. Within two years the water quality had improved from a coliform count of 40,000 per 100 ml to well under 2400 per 100 ml which is the state maximum allowed for public swimming. Today, coliform counts now average less than 3 per 100 ml.

The FCLA played a major role in convincing the Town of Webb to discontinue use of the carcinogenic spray Dibrom 14 to eradicate black flies. The Town now uses BTI, a safe and effective larvicide. The organization led several lake and property owner groups to convince municipal officers to amend the zoning ordinance to severely limit contractual access on water front properties. The FCLA was one of the first lake associations (as is still today) in NY State to participate in their Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP) sponsored by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Lake water testing has included not only coliform and pH but tests for heavy metals and testing for aquatic invasive species. The FCLA has channeled their efforts to prevent Eurasian Milfoil from spreading further into the Fulton Chain. Milfoil now grows in Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Lake. A labor-intensive program of hand harvesting the milfoil has been a major commitment of the Association with time and money generously donated resources from the community to assist scuba divers in their pursuit of removing the weeds. These invasive plants can cause great damage to aquatic plants and fish habitants as well as other recreational activities enjoyed on our lakes.


Photos courtesy Carolyn Belknap


The organization has been and continues to be instrumental in water safety issues on the lake including watercraft speed limits and noise levels. The FCLA prints and distributes a navigation map and water safety brochure for the benefit of all residents and visitors in the area. The Association has assisted the local Sheriff departments in purchasing decibel level meters, GPS, radar for their patrol boats and other support and safely equipment.

The FCLA has given and continues to provide monetary assistance to local students who study and participate in environmental pursuits.

The organization has received many awards from local, state, and national sources. They include a Congressional nomination for the “President’s Volunteer Action Award”, a Commendation from the Environmental Protection Agency and the “Adirondack Centennial Stewardship Award” from New York State
The Association partners with other lake associates and now is a leading member of the Adirondack Lake Alliance which works as a resource to strengthen and assist other Adirondack lake and river associations.

All this could not and cannot exist without the countless hours of work and dedicated by our all- volunteer Board of Directors. And it is certainly not without the generous support of the membership that the organization continues to accomplish its goal to preserve and protect the unique environment of our lake and the watershed basin.

So Little Can Do So Much

Members’ annual dues and donations are the only source of revenue for FCLA. Our budget covers lake water tests, supplies to conduct these tests, newsletter, website, community and educational outreach, watershed stewardship programs, boating safely initiative and clerical costs. The FCLA recognizes a Town of Webb High School student who exhibits keen interest in preserving the environment with a scholarship. The membership is over 600 strong, with a goal to include all people who enjoy, use and benefit from our lakes pure waters.



Help us continue protecting The Fulton Chain of Lakes by
becoming a member! To become a member and/or make a donation, please go to our membership page.

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