NJ reservoir confusion

So while out for a nice drive Saturday I passed Clinton reservoir which looked to me like an amazing place to paddle. I also happened to pass Oak Ridge reservoir, both bodies of water happen to be located in West Milford. I found the NJDEP website and noticed little stars next to the name. After calling DEP I found that kayakers are strictly off limits but if I had a row boat or an electric outboard and were going there with the intention of fishing I would be completely welcome. Umm am I missing something here? Is there a loop hole or something I can get through to get beyond this? Anybody had any experience with situations like this?

Not uncommon
This is more about the strength of the fishing lobby than common sense about pollution. Some of the NYC reservoirs in upstate NY operate the same way. At least one requires that you be renting one of their boats, but they are still fishing boats with little putt-putt outboards on them.

I haven’t ever tried this, but in a situation where they allow you to take your own boat, it is possible that you’d be OK as long as you were actively fishing rather than paddling (and had the right permits to fish).

I was thinking…
why not just say screw it and paddle the lake anyways. I have yet to (knock on wood) run into any boating park rangers on nj reservoirs anyways. As long as the penalty is not boat confiscation it might be worth the risk. Im just baffled how the people gliding across the lake in kayaks are less desired then the people fishing? I have to say my experience has been that often times its the fishermen that pollute the waters more (not all fishermen) especially the shorelines. I don’t have a fishing permit.

There was a petition going around sometime last year to allow us nasty kayakers to paddle a few lakes, and I’m pretty sure that it was the spots you mentioned. They do look pretty amazing, and I can’t believe that they’d be off limits to people who just want to enjoy their beauty.

What if you had a child’s fishing rod and went on that reservoir to “look for a perfect fishing spot” while taking the long route?

There is one argument here
Those on the lake fishing have paid some kind of bucks towards maintenance of the resource, via the fishing permit, at least theoretically. If you just drop a boat in the water you haven’t made such a contribution.

Even if you disagree with the logic, it’s an argument that you might hear while trying to evade a fine.

Using NJ reservoirs
In NJ on state reservoirs a fishing license or park permit is required to kayak or boat on the reservoir, therefore on the restricted reservoirs e.i. Round Valley even the kayaker contributes to the upkeep of the facility.

I seem to remember being told that I’d need a fishing license to paddle Round Valley a few years back, even though we were just going to paddle. So, if I were to buy a fishing license, then perhaps these lakes would be okay to paddle? I’d certainly buy one if it would open up these lakes to me.

I paddled Round Valley Res last summer and just paid the park entry fee, no fishing license required.

The DEP webpage says a permit is needed from for Clinton Reservoir. Looking further gives contact info for the permit (from http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/resperms.htm)


Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation

Echo Lake Office

223 Echo Lake Road

Newfoundland, NJ 07435


Fee charged

You may need to buy a fishing permit, but no one can force you to fish, right?

Been there and done that…

– Last Updated: Jan-10-12 12:35 AM EST –

to no avail! I see you paddle on Split Rock, so do I! But it's owned by Jersey City not Newark. Newark watershed commission has restrictions on all their reservoirs, except Monksville I believe.

The Newark Watershed
was the phone number I called today. That was the guy who told me the lake is restricted to row boats and electric motor boats only. I have no problem paying towards the general upkeep of the water I paddle on. I purchased a permit and the extra key for Harriman state park last year. My frustration is with the general ridiculousness behind the theory. Im just trying to find a loop hole here even if I have to row my damn kayak hahaha

Clinton Reservoir
Just looking for some clarification. Where is Clinton Reservoir? I know of Round Valley and Spruce Run but am not sure where Clinton Reservoir is unless its the body of water by the Red Mill. I work in the area and have kayaked in spruce run (just need to pay park entrance fee) and boated and hiked in Round Valley.

North Jersey
Clinton is part of the Newark Watershed district.

Clinton Res.
is located in West Milford right off of Clinton Rd. There is a nice parking lot area for those who want to launch but agqain its only for fishermen.


– Last Updated: Jan-11-12 3:50 PM EST –

That was me who organized the petition last year. I thought it was ridiculous that they allow boats but not canoes or kayaks.

I circulated it to many forums and clubs around NJ and sent a paper copy and a nice cover letter via snail mail to Mayor Booker and the exec director of NWCDC and got no response.

I live walking distance to Oak Ridge reservoir so I would love it. All 4 of their reservoirs are close to highways and perfect. So dumb Newark could make some extra money on fees.

If you want to sign petition is still out there online.

I'm still hoping that someday they will wise up and at least give it a test run on one reservoir. I'm fairly certain it would work out well for all parties.

I heard somewhere through the grapevine their fear is kayakers dumping into the water and needing rescue. I guess they don't understand that kayakers are prepared to go in unlike the drunk boaters with no PFD or gear.

I signed it last year and posted it to various club sites. I was surprised how few people actually signed; it’s not like it takes that much effort. Maybe I’ll post the link again. It would be a pity if these really nice spots remained off limits to people who would do no harm to the area.

I guess I didn’t realize it would be that stupid, but I guess I’m not really surprised. I just signed the petition at the link below, maybe it will help.

Just signed!
For such a great cause I will gladly take 15 seconds out of my life to sign it. I think we should get a large number of people and flash mob the oak ridge or clinton res. hahaha Who is in? Kinda hard to stop 200+ kayakers all at once…

Signed it
I think I signed it last year too…


– Last Updated: Jan-10-12 1:34 PM EST –

5. Launching sites are available at Echo Lake, Clinton, Canistear and Oak Ridge Reservoirs.

The 5th reservoir (Charlottesburg) is off limits because it's the closest in water supply to the city. I read that Echo Lake is the furthest in the water supply chain and would be best the best chance of opening up to recreational use.

Below is copy and past from the water quality portion of their website that describes the order:

Charlotteburg is the last reservoir in Newark's water supply system; the water in it has little opportunity for natural filtering before it reaches the City's faucets. Surface water flowing directly into Charlotteburg, therefore, must be given maximum protection from contamination with silt or pollutants.

Oak Ridge is the first of the other reservoirs to be tapped to keep up the water level in Charlotteburg. The water level in Oak Ridge accordingly fluctuates substantially.

When Oak Ride cannot meet the needs of keeping Charlotteburg up to the required level, Clinton Reservoir is drawn down next. Its level does not fluctuate nearly as much as Oak Ridge.

Canistear Reservoir is drawn down third and tends to be very stable except in times of drought.

Echo Lake is theoretically drawn down when needed. However, its water holds a large volume of suspended soil particles and has not been considered of high enough quality to enter the Charlotteburg Reservoir for several years. It is for all practical purposes out of the system and is well suited to recreational purposes.