LAKEGEORGE - A program conducted on Lake George which curbs the spread of nuisance plants and creatures will significantly expand over last year's level, thanks to new funding.
Trained student "Lake Stewards," posted at several Lake George boat launches throughout the summer, inspect incoming boats for invasive species, remove suspicious specimens, and educate boaters about the threats of such plants and animals and how to prevent their spread. The Commission's marine patrol is contacted whenever stewards encounter a boat being launched that has obvious signs of invasive species and its pilot refuses inspection.
Since 2008, the Lake George Association has managed training, supervision and reporting for the Lake Steward Program.
The additional funding of $35,000 provided this year by the Lake George Park Commission bankrolls maximum coverage for peak periods and for the launches that receive the highest traffic. The estimated program costs for 2011 are $67,000, and $25,000 will be funded through the Lake Champlain Basin program and the LGA providing the remainder from its Helen V. Froehlich Foundation grant awards.
In 2010, Lake stewards were posted at four launches around Lake George: Norowal Marina, Mossy Point, Hague Town Beach and Rogers Rock. In 2011, two additional launches will be added. Days and hours of coverage will also increase; the goal is to provide seven days per week coverage during the busiest times of the season, LGA official Emily DeBolt said. Twelve hour per day coverage is the goal for Mossy Point and Norowal, while other sites will receive eight hours per day. Mossy Point and Norowal were chosen for increased coverage due to the high volume of their traffic.
"The Lake George Lake Steward Program is critical to protecting the water quality of Lake George," said Bruce Young, chair of the Lake George Park Commission.
LGA's Lake Steward program supervisor Emily DeBolt said that while dozens of different aquatic invasive species reside nearby, only four are now found in Lake George.
"We aim to keep it that way," she said.
In addition to inspection, lake stewards collect extensive data about lake users and invasive species spread. This information sheds light on the pathways of invasive species, and helps to identify target areas for early detection and control, she said. A report for the public is prepared annually.
The program is closely coordinated with similar programs. Lake George, Lake Champlain, and the Adirondack Watershed Institute collaborate on training, printed materials, and data collection as members of a regional partnership, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program.
In 2010, local Lake Stewards inspected 2,538 boats, and educated boaters about the threats of Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels, curly-leaf pondweed, and the Lake's most recent invader, the Asian clam. Thirty-six samples of Eurasian watermilfoil were removed during the season. Nine samples of curly-leaf pondweed were found, three samples of zebra mussels, and five of water chestnut, an invasive that is not currently found in Lake George.
The 2010 Lake Steward Program was funded by the Bolton Local Development Corp., the towns of Hague and Ticonderoga, the Lake George Park Commission, the Helen V. Froehlich Foundation, and the state Department of State. The program was conceived by the Invasive Species Task Force of the Lake George Watershed Coalition.