Campus News

Lake LaSalle becoming focus of outdoor recreation on campus

Lake LaSalle boat launch, with paddleboarder.

Six more canoes recently were added to the watercraft available for use on Lake LaSalle. Coming soon will be paddleboats and stand-up paddleboards, like the one seen at left. Photo: Russ Crispell


Published June 11, 2015

“We anticipated good attendance this spring, but were stunned to find students literally lining up an hour or two before our ‘dockside’ boat house opened. ”
Russ Crispell, director
Outdoor Pursuits

With its Greek-style amphitheater at Baird Point, Lake LaSalle has long served as the iconic image of UB’s North Campus. Built in 1970 to provide flood control and water runoff, the 60-acre lake for years was more popular with flocks of Canada geese than with boaters and other recreational users.

But that is changing, as the lake is quickly becoming the focus of outdoor recreation activities for the UB community.

With a grant from the Realizing UB 2020 initiative, Outdoor Pursuits — which last fall joined the Office of Student Life — is transforming the area around the lake into an “outdoor recreation park,” according to Russ Crispell, director of Outdoor Pursuits. The area will feature picnic tables, Adirondack chairs, slackline poles and a fire pit. Plans also include building a nine-hole, disc golf course along the lakefront.

The effort springs, in part, from the tremendous success of the boat launch that was provided at the lake last fall by Campus Living and the paddling program initiated by Outdoor Pursuits. The paddling program, which provides free access to canoes and kayaks, as well as instruction, for those wishing to get out on the water, has “taken off,” Crispell says.

“We anticipated good attendance this spring, but were stunned to find students literally lining up an hour or two before our ‘dockside’ boat house opened,” he says. “Soon we began to look at the needs and desires of our students, and recently purchased six additional canoes to help handle the demand,” as well as two boat trailers.

Outdoor Pursuits also plans to add two stand-up paddleboards and a couple of paddleboats to its stock of watercraft to provide more opportunities for paddlers to enjoy the lake.

The installation of the boat launch was part of an effort to “activate” the lake and engage the UB community, especially students, in nearby natural resources. While it’s nice to look at the lake, “it’s quite another thing to be on it, to appreciate it, to feel it and to let it transform you when needed,” says Ryan McPherson, UB’s chief sustainability officer.

The UB boats are available for use, free of charge, to faculty, staff and students from 5-8 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, weather permitting. Boating hours are from dawn to dusk for those using their own, non-motorized boats.

The boat launch is located between The Commons and the Center for the Arts.

All boaters must wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets and adhere to New York State boating regulations and the rules of the lake.


A long overdue opening to a beautiful resource. Great initiative and outreach to the community to allow nonstudents to have access. too. But another dock/pier is going to be an obvious need. Good work!


John Radens

I enjoyed reading the Lake LaSalle article. It brought back fond memories.


As a native Oklahoman, I attended UB SILS (School of Information and Library Studies) from 1978-79. At the beginning of the fall semester, fellow classmates invited me to a picnic at the lake.  I happily went along, totally unprepared for the weather. It never occurred to me to take along a sweater or wear slacks — for goodness sakes, it was a picnic. I almost froze! When a bird flew over me and dropped “you-know-what” on me, I ran into the lake. A kind soul took pity on me and loaned me a sweater.


Did this experience prepare me for the blizzard that was ahead? Not on your life! Did these experiences prepare me for a lifelong respect for God's grand, wonderful and often beyond-our-understanding world? You betcha!


Emily Patterson Harris

Next step: access for previous grads and a few campsites. What the hell, you're always hitting us up for contributions!


Bob Cunningham

Russ Crispell is doing a wonderfull job bringing  the "outdoor experience" to UB students, faculty and community.


Steven M Schultz

Good job! I learned to kayak and I like it very much. Thank you!


Xudong Liu