Several more infestations of Asian clams have been discovered in Lake George, and more money is needed to fight the spread of the environmentally destructive clam colonies, Walt Lender of the Lake George Association told town officials Monday.
While Asian clams were first discovered a year ago in shallow areas of the lake in front of the shoreline resorts near the northwestern end of Canada St., infestations of the environmentally destructive pest have now been located in Treasure Cove near Diamond Point, and offshore near Norowal Marina in Bolton Landing. Several weeks ago, a colony of clams of about 5 acres was discovered in Boon Bay — just north of the Lake George town line.
Lender warned town officials of the consequences of not taking quick action, as he predicted escalating costs of abating the species.
“If we let these infestations go, they will ruin our lake and the repercussions are unbelievable,” Lender said, citing how Lake Tahoe’s infestation of about 200 acres now requires a budget of $1 million just to keep it from getting worse.
Lender said the clams multiply extremely fast, each one potentially giving birth to up to 4,000 others per season.
Without aggressive control in early stages of infestation, millions of clams can propagate, causing gooey masses of algae growing in the lake. Also, they are likely to substantially hamper recreation, clog water intake pipes, and promote growth of other nuisance species.
In April, the Lake George Asian Clam Rapid Response Task Force launched their control program, laying down more than 825 mats that smother the clams over time.
After the mats were found to be displaced by passing boats and waves, the task force started using sand bags to weigh the barriers down.
Where the mats were in place for several months, they’ve killed 97 percent of the clams, Lender said.
The task force will be placing the mats again this fall, accompanied by suctioning off clam colonies on dock supports, water pipes and other underwater features.
Eradication effort to be costly
In the meantime, the task force will be conducting an extensive survey of the lake to determine the extent of infestations, he said.
“It’s going to be a big process,” he said, noting that 60 locations on the lake have been spot-checked. Lake George has well over 100 miles of shoreline. Lender did not specify how much the task force needed in addition to the $500,000 already spent in the clam abatement effort.
However, the the Boon Bay infestation, a similar size of the one at motel row, is likely to cost $500,000. Also, eradication of the remaining clams that survived the mat smothering project could cost another $200,000, Lender estimated.
Lake George Supervisor said that Warren County officials should join their political representatives to lobby for state aid in the eradication effort.
“The state should contribute to preserve the lake’s quality,” he said.
In bankrolling the project to date, private grants have been joined with $75,000 from the Lake George Park Commission and about one-third that sum from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Citizens need to help fight clams
Lender said that assistance is needed from local citizens to augment the task force’s clam eradication efforts. He asked that all lakeshore residents, swimmers and boaters help identify infestations of the small mollusks, by looking under their docks, and on their beaches and in the shallow water for the presence of the clams, which are about the size of a dime or a nickel. One tell-tale sign of an infestation, he said, is open butterfly-shaped clam shells on the beach or lake-bottom.
Anyone who thinks that they have found Asian clams should contact the RPI Darrin Fresh Water Institute, the FUND for Lake George, Lake George Park Commission, or the Lake George Association. More information can be obtained at www.stoptheasianclam.info.
Lake George Town Supervisor Frank McCoy said he and the town board were fully supportive of the clam eradication effort.
“Lake George is our most important asset, and we have to protect it,” he said. “We’re committed — We know our lifeblood is our lake.”