Adirondack Park Agency

Adirondack Shorelines

Among the most valuable resources in the Park is the land along its thousands of streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. The laws the Agency administers provide protection to water quality and aesthetics of Adirondack shorelines by establishing setbacks, lot widths and cutting restrictions.

Shoreline restrictions apply to all lakes and ponds, all rivers being studied for inclusion in the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers System, and all other rivers and streams navigable by boat, including canoe.

For more on shoreline minimum lot widths and setbacks, see page 6 of the Citizen's Guide.

Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers System

Many Adirondack rivers are subject to special regulations and permit requirements adopted under the New York State Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers System Act. These regulations apply in addition to those set forth in the APA Act.

Agency regulations apply to the designated rivers and lands adjoining them, generally up to 1/4 mile from the edge of the river.

For more on Rivers System Act regulations and which rivers the Act applies to, see page 5 of the Citizen's Guide.

Removing Trees

Generally, there ane no requirements for the harvesting of trees on non-shoreline parcels unless you plan to clear-cut more than 25 upland acres or 3 wetland acres, or the property is located in a Designated River Area. However, cutting of trees in preparation for aproject requiring a permit may not begin until the permit is obtained; tree removal is part of the project review process, In addition, there are permit requirements for the construction of woods roads or skid trails through wetlands.

For more on shoreline cutting limits, see page 6 of the Citizen's Guide.


A variance from the mandatory shoreline restrictions may be allowed if, on the request of a landowner, the Agency determines that the strict application of the shoreline development restriction would cause practical difficulty or undue hardship. A public hearing must be held on each variance request.

For more on shorelines, Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers, removing trees, and variances, see pages 5 and 6 of the Citizen's Guide to Adirondack Park Land Use Regulations (pdf 370kb).

Links to related information on our site:

Check the FAQs for shoreline questions.

Several documents are available including:
Shoreline Restrictions (pdf 124kb)
Wild, Scenic and Recreational River Information Flyer (pdf 11kb)


Though we don't suggest starting with this chart due to its complexity, the chart Summary of Adirondack Park Agency Authority Over Land Use and Development and Subdivisions covers issues of jurisdiction related to shorelines, rivers and trees.