Lake George Park Commission Boat Decontamination Specialist Doug Underhill, gives a boat-washing demonstration following a press conference announcing legislation to protect waterways from invasive species on June 7 at Rogers Memorial Park in Bolton Landing.
Area politicians gathered June 7 at Rogers Memorial Park to show their support of proposed federal legislation aimed at curbing the introduction of invasive species into local waterways.
The legislation, called the Invasive Fish and Wildlife Protection Act, was unveiled during a press conference and boat-washing demonstration.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, a member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, and is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh.
Gillibrand said there is no more serious problem to the preservation of area waterways than preventing new invasive species from getting into Lake George.
“This funding is great news for Lake George,” Gillibrand said. “We are truly blessed as New Yorkers for our beautiful lakes.”
Gillibrand went on to say that a threat to one lake is a threat to all bodies of water in the state and that new invasive species are being found at an alarming rate. There are currently 236 animal species listed as invasive under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Lacey Act. The Lacey Act, a 112-year-old law, regulates invasive species and non-native species of animals and prohibits their importation and interstate sale.
Currently listed under the Lacey Act are zebra mussels and several species of carp. Gillibrand said once a species is listed as injurious, it cannot be imported into the U.S. or its territories. Nevertheless, it can take up to four years for a specimen to be listed, giving invasive species more time to infiltrate New York’s waterways, potentially costing millions of dollars in damage.
“In that time, the problem can grow to be out of control,“ Gillibrand said. “We need to do what we can now to prevent future invasives that we don’t even know about from coming into our water.”
The introduction of the proposed bill follows the announcement by state and local governments to fund two boat inspection and washing stations at boat launches on Lake George, bringing the total to three. The new washing stations are being funded through an EPA grant of $50,000 to the Lake George Park Commission. Lake George will now have a total of three decontamination sites at its busiest boat launches: Rogers Rock State Campground in the town of Hague; Mossy Point State Boat Launch in the town of Ticonderoga; and Norowal Marina in Bolton Landing.
Since 2006, the DEC has spent $4.9 million on invasive species eradication across the state and $1.46 million was allocated to Lake George through the Lake George Park Commission.
“With this investment, we will have a fighting chance to keep invasive species out of Lake George,” said Joan Leary Matthews, Director of the EPA’s Region 2 Clean Water Division.
Also in attendance to show support for the legislation was New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens, Lake George Mayor and S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership Chairman Robert Blais, Executive Director of the Lake George Association Walt Lender and state Assemblyman Dan Stec, R-Queensbury.
Following the press conference, Lake George Park Commission Boat Decontamination Specialist Doug Underhill gave a live demonstration of a typical boat washing that will be performed at the designated stations.
Underhill said launch attendees will rinse the entire boat using a pressure washer with 140-degree temperature water.
“When the water is above 140 degrees, it kills invasives species that might be carried on the boat,” Underhill said. “It won’t cause any problems to the boat or the engine at that temperature.”
“This isn’t just a problem in Lake George, but eventually this will probably be statewide,” Underhill said. “I’ve talked to people from Chester, Loon Lake, Brant Lake and it’s definitely something everyone is thinking about.”