Lake George Park Commission boat wash attendant Doug Underhill power-washes a boat to remove invasive species prior to being launched into Lake George. With their sights set on reducing the spread of invasives, the town of Chester board voted Tuesday March 14 to purchase a wash station to be located at Loon Lake to decontaminate boats before they are launched.
In an effort to curb the spread of aquatic invasive species into northern Warren County lakes, the town of Chester board voted Tuesday May 14 to purchase a boat washing station.
The portable station is to be employed in a voluntary boat inspection, washing and decontamination program using trained lake stewards.
While officials of the Warren County towns of and Horicon and Chester have their sights set on a mandatory program in the future, they have decided to increase the hours of lake stewards posted at boat launches on Loon Lake, Brant Lake and Schroon Lake to reduce the spread of the invasive plants and creatures into the waterways. In the past three years, Asian Clams have been multiplying in Lake George, and about $1 million has been spend to curb the population of the invasive species, believed to hinder tourism and recreation.
Chester board members voted to purchase a washing station at an anticipated price of about $20,000 and position it initially at the town-owned Loon Lake boat launch. The approved measure calls for soliciting bids on a portable unit that matches the specifications of the Lake George Park Commission’s stations already in use.
The station may be repositioned elsewhere in the future as the needs for boat decontamination evolve, Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe said Tuesday night.
Monday, a proposal raised at a joint workshop meeting of the Horicon and Chester town boards called for a boat washing station to be located about halfway between Loon Lake in Chester and Brant Lake in Horicon — and that Horicon would pay for half the station’s cost. This idea was shelved by the two boards at least temporarily after hearing from Park Commission Executive Director Dave Wick that boaters weren’t likely to have their boats decontaminated if the equipment wasn’t positioned near where they were launching their watercraft.
After hearing from marina owners and others that there was insufficient room to host a washing station at the boat launches on the two lakes, the Horicon board endorsed the idea to boost the hours of their lake stewards, an action taken officially by the Chester town board a day later. In Chester, stewards will be on duty from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays Sundays through the boating season. The board also authorized Monroe to hire another steward to be on duty from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Monroe said town officials would be working with consultants to review the possibility of a boat certification system that would call for boats to have inspectors affix seals on cables holding boats to trailers, certifying them as environmentally safe to launch. The seals could be color-coded, indicating which waterway they were pulled from, Monroe said, to allow re-introduction to the same water body without re-certification.
The entire program would be voluntary, but local officials expect that most all boaters would comply.
At the Chester meeting Tuesday, Jane Smith said that the town should determine whether a water quality grant application that the town had submitted to the state could be amended to request funding for an additional boat washing station — and Monroe said he’d look into the possibility.
The additional station would likely be used by both Chester and horicon, and be made available to other towns, Monroe said.
In an update to the Chester board on a parallel effort to combat invasives, Monroe reported that the chemical Renovate was applied Tuesday in the south end of Loon Lake to combat Eurasian Milfoil — after months of delays in permitting from state agencies.
He said the lake level had been decreased and a curtain was in place to minimize the spread of the chemical and maximize its destruction of the pernicious lakeweed. Monroe continued that the chemical was used at its lowest feasible concentration.
The cost of applying Renovate had been budgeted at $85,000 but will likely reach $95,000 due to the extra costs of permitting and a series of follow-up tests required by the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency.
The lake measures 584 acres, and 15 acres in the southern basin are being treated, Monroe said. Elsewhere in the lake, milfoil is under control after an effective effort to remove it has been implemented, he said.
Hand harvesting and installing mats on the lakebottom have curbed milfoil’s spread, he said, noting the goal was to reduce ongoing milfoil control expenses from nearly $60,000 annually to about $30,000.
“Milfoil in Loon Lake has now been reduced to manageable levels,” Monroe said. “I’m very pleased our board has recognized the seriousness of the threat of aquatic invasives, and was willing to take aggressive action to protect our water bodies.”