On their first day on duty lake stewards Sabina Sullivan, left, and Brandon Bezio removed two invasive species, curly-leaf pondweed and Eurasian watermilfoil, from a single boat launching at Mossy Point in Ticonderoga.
This award combines with $35,000 of funding by the Lake George Park Commission.
The Lake Steward Program provides invasive species education and spread prevention on Lake George. Nine stewards for Lake George have been hired by the Lake George Association and were recently trained at Paul Smith’s College. Beginning May 25, the stewards were on duty at four high traffic launch sites on Lake George —Norowal Marina, Hague town launch, Mossy Point in Ticonderoga and Rogers Rock in Hague.
“The job of the stewards is to educate boaters about the threats of aquatic invasive species, such as Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels, curly-leaf pondweed, and of course our most recent invader, the Asian clam,” said Emily DeBolt, LGA director of education.
Through June 3 the stewards inspected 652 boats at the four launches. Of 13 samples removed from boats, eight contained at least one invasive species. Six contained Eurasian watermilfoil, three contained curly-leaf pondweed, one contained water chestnut, and one contained zebra mussel.
Sixty-two stewards, including nine for Lake George, were trained at Paul Smith’s College earlier this month. The stewards will be educating boaters and performing boat inspections to stop the spread of invasive species in water bodies across the Adirondack Park.
The LGA stewards are not part of the mandatory inspection program currently under development by the Lake George Park Commission, however, they will be visibly inspecting the outside of all boats and trailers, and they will remove suspicious plant or animal material for later identification.
“This year the stewards will also be focusing on water contained on board, asking boaters if they have drained all water from hatches, bilges, live wells, and other locations prior to launch,” said DeBolt. “Because even the smallest amount of water can harbor aquatic invasive species, the stewards will want to see that the boats have arrived at the launch both clean and dry. Our stewards may suggest, but cannot require, a boater to go to a boat washing station for decontamination. They also will not be operating the boat washing stations.”
Now it is seventh year, the Lake George stewards program compiles data and produces reports on the boats entering Lake George, including the body of water most recently visited prior to the Lake George launch, and whether spread prevention steps were taken prior to launch. Stewards also educate boaters about New York State’s new baitfish and firewood regulations.
All boaters are urged to follow a “Clean, Drain and Dry” practice prior to launch, advocated by local marina owners, the Eastern New York Marine Trades Association, the Lake George Park Commission, the Darrin Fresh Water Institute, and the LGA.
The Lake George steward program is a part of protecting the water quality of Lake George and preventing the spread of invasive species between waterbodies throughout the Lake Champlain Basin and the Northeast. Due to its popularity, Lake George can become a source of invasive species for many other lakes in the region. Nearby, Lake Champlain has documented 49 invasive species, the St. Lawrence River has 87, the Hudson River has 91, and the Great Lakes have 186. These bodies of water surround Lake George on all sides, and boats are easily transported from one of these lakes to the next.
The steward program has helped keep water chestnut from spreading to Lake George and to other bodies of water within the Lake Champlain Basin. Lake stewards found water chestnut on four boats about to enter Lake George in 2009, on five boats in 2010 and on four boats in 2011.
In 2011, over 8,000 boat inspections were performed. Of the total 171 plant/ animal species removed by lake stewards from boats, 87 samples were invasive.