LAKE GEORGE - A group that for generations has worked tirelessly to protect the purity of Lake George is not only celebrating a major milestone this year, it's expanding their programs and educational outreach.
The Lake George Association, the oldest lake association in the U.S., celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2010.
Established in 1885 by concerned fishermen to protect water quality for healthy fish, LGA was a pioneer in environmental preservation and conservation. Now, the 5,000 members of the group work together to protect, conserve and improve the quality and beauty of the Lake George basin.
In recent years, the non-profit LGA has been actively involved in both educational and lake-saving projects. The LGA Floating Classroom is a custom-built 40-foot catamaran that takes tourists, resort guests, residents and school children out on the lake for learning about ecology and waterway stewardship. Floating Classroom guests enjoy hands-on experiences testing the lake's clarity. Public trips are scheduled for every Wednesday in July and August, leaving the dock at Shepard Park in Lake George Village.
All are invited to participate in free hands-on water ecology programs at Bolton Landing's Rogers Park Pavilion, the Lake George Recreation Center and at Shepard Park in Lake George.
Free "Lake-Friendly Living" workshops are offered on Saturdays at the LGA offices in Lake George. Workshops on Landscaping with Native Plants, the Do's and Don'ts of Aquatic Invasive Plants, Water Conservation, and Lawn Care and Pest Management will be offered this summer. Also, the LGA can custom-design presentations.
Citizen scientists join the LGA each year to monitor water quality, as well as loons, turtles, and zebra mussels. Volunteers will participate in clean-ups at Log Bay on July 27 and at West Brook on June 15.
In cooperation with local community groups, the LGA coordinates major projects to stabilize eroding stream banks, divert and purify stormwater, enhance wetlands and reduce sand and salt deposition in waterways. LGA-hired lake stewards inspect boats for invasive plants during the summer season. In addition, the LGA helps landowners find lake-friendly solutions for erosion, stormwater, landscaping or septic problems, as well as helping plan environmentally conscious developments.
The LGA was formed in 1885 during the height of the U.S. conservation movement, when natural resource preservation gained momentum on the heels of essays by Thoreau and Emerson, and speeches by Theodore Roosevelt. U.S. Congress was establishing national parks and New York State created the Adirondack Forest Preserve. America's natural areas were becoming destinations for tourists, naturalists, and sportsmen. People were beginning to value the natural beauty of places like Lake George.
LGA's first project was to restock the lake with fish. Because the fishery's health depended on water quality, the Association addressed basic sources of pollution. Their tasks included working with local farmers to curb the runoff from pigpens and livestock yards that were polluting the lake.
Later, as more families developed lakeshore camps and depended on the lake for drinking water, the LGA provided sanitary inspectors to encourage replacement of outdoor privies and to cut down on septic pollution.
In the 1940s, LGA leaders influenced the state legislature to undertake the first technical studies of the lake which were the basis for the landmark Lake George Law.
In the 1960's, the Association lobbied successfully for a ban on phosphate detergents, the first in the State. Later, the LGA fought for construction of community sewage treatment plants, a program that continues to this day.
During the last half-century, rampant development has threatened Lake George. When regulatory controls were in their infancy, the LGA supported municipal planning and local laws to protect water quality. LGA members began monitoring local review processes. Faced in the 1980s with many large subdivisions and condominium proposals, the LGA fought successfully for effective stormwater and wastewater facilities to be included in construction plans.
Milfoil beds were first discovered in the mid-1980s, and within months, LGA produced a workshop on state-of-the-art weed control techniques. And later when zebra mussels were discovered in the lake, the LGA responded by providing vital information to local officials and residents. The LGA continues to bring nuisance species experts and educational sessions to Lake George, and to provide solutions.
During the 1990s, the LGA boosted their educational programs for both residents and visitors, and they delved into a variety of engineering projects, as well as helping develop long-range watershed management plans.
The LGA's efforts in boosting the lake's purity continue today through an eight-member staff, a board of directors, membership support, and volunteers. The group's public events celebrating their anniversary include a Gala on July 16 at Inn at Erlowest, their formal annual meeting Aug. 20 at the Lake George Club, and commemorative postage cancellations at area post offices between Aug. 20 and Sept. 20.
Contact the LGA at 668-3558 or www.lakegeorgeassociation.org for details.