With the intent of curbing the spread of aquatic invasive species, the Lake George Park Commission voted unanimously Jan. 28 to implement a mandatory boat inspection and decontamination program for Lake George.
The long-awaited mandates were hailed this week by local community officials and environmental organization leaders.
The approved regulations call for inspection of boats for invasive species — watercraft are to be cleaned, drained and dry before they are launched into Lake George. If any invasive species are found on the boats, they must be washed at a nearby boat-washing station prior to launch.
The regulations take effect beginning May 15, when the equipment and personnel are to be in place.
Eight boat washing stations are to be situated at six sites around the lake. The boat inspections and decontamination are to be free of charge.
Lake George Mayor Robert Blais said in a prepared statement hat the vote represented a notable step forward in the protection of the world-famous waterway.
“With this historic vote, the Commission has upheld its protection mandate in the face of the gathering invasives threat,” he said. Blais serves as the chairman of the S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership.
S.A.V.E. Lake George is a coalition of public and private officials, conservation group leaders, scientists and entrepreneurs around Lake George who have committed to paying half the boat inspection program’s cost over the next two years.
S.A.V.E. member Eric Siy, Executive Director of the Fund for Lake George, said the decision of the Park Commission was historic.
“Nothing will deliver better returns for our economy, environment, and communities than shared investment in the future health of Lake George,” he said.
Blais and Lake George Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson as well as Bolton Town Supervisor Ron Conover have for years advocated — alongside area environmentalists — for mandated boat inspection and decontamination.
Dickinson has warned that the inspections need to be conducted around-the-clock to maximize the program’s effectiveness.
The S.A.V.E. group has called for “night monitors” to perform this role, and Blais said the group’s members will be working with the park commission to assure such comprehensive coverage.
Conover noted that Lake George was the first major lake in the eastern U.S. to have such comprehensive protection program in place.
“There is no question that Lake George is leading the way in demonstrating what it will take to save our precious waters from aquatic invasives,” he said hailing the Park Commission members for their foresight.
Warren County leaders have launched a program to curb the spread of invasive species through all the county’s waterways. Warned for years by local environmentalists of how many lakes across the U.S. have become choked with pernicious plants, mollusks and other creatures, a majority of the town supervisors have called for a county-wide mandatory inspection and decontamination program.
Although state officials first expressed opposition to the mandated program, their positions have changed.
Pending is a proposed new regulation by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to prohibit launching of boats at any state launch facility that is not clean and drained to prevent invasives from spreading. The agency is now seeking public opinion on the proposal. The public comment period on the statewide regulation is scheduled to end Feb. 24.