Electric trolling motors okayed on Cannonsville

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By Joe Moskowitz
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has taken another step toward allowing the public expanded recreational use on some of its water-supply reservoirs.

Starting this spring, electric trolling motors will be allowed on a trial basis on fishing boats in the Cannonsville Reservoir, which impounds the West Branch of the Delaware River at Deposit. This trial will be much like the one that allowed kayaks and canoes to be used on the Cannonsville Reservoir before the DEP opened up several other “non-terminal reservoirs, including the Pepacton, Schoharie and Neversink to their use.

Not expansion yet
DEP spokesman Adam Bosch said that while DEP has no immediate plans to expand the program beyond the Cannonsville, history indicates that if all goes well at the Cannonsville this year, the DEP will probably allow the motors to be used on the other non- terminal reservoirs
The expanded recreational use trolling motors is not likely to be expanded to the Ashokan Reservoir.

The DEP is still working on the some of the details, but has established the basic guidelines. The electric motors cannot have more than 55 pounds of thrust. The batteries cannot be larger than 12 volts and must be of marine grade, and must be secured so they can’t fall out of the boat. Boats and motors must be steam cleaned and remain at the reservoir, or if removed, they must be cleaned again. And, the batteries must be removed each day.
The DEP is forming a focus group made up of fishermen to get their input before finalizing all of the regulations.

For the first year, the electric motors can only be used for fishing and must be attached to rowboats or johnboats, but the DEP may expand the use of the motors and the types of vessels in the future.

Hoping for more
Carol O’Beirne, executive director of the Margaretville based Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce, says she hopes the DEP expands the program to include the other reservoirs and says this is welcome news for anglers.

O’Beirne is hosting a series of roundtable forums to get ideas on how local businesses can take advantage of recreational opportunities provided by the DEP and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

One of those business owners, Tom Phillips of Arkville’s Pepacton Bait and Tackle, says he hopes by next year he can steam clean and sell boats and motors to use on the Pepacton.