During a recent meeting in Bolton Town Hall, Lake George Park Commission member John Pettica (left) talks about a pending trial boat inspection and decontamination program, and how public education is vital to protect Lake George from invasive species. Fellow commission member Joe Stanek (right) listens to Pettica’s comments.
The pending plan to inspect boats for invasive species and decontaminate them if necessary moved ahead this week, as Lake George Park Commission members unveiled how they’d likely certify and seal clean boats — and discussed their efforts to line up funding and boost public education.
At a meeting in Bolton Landing March 2, members of the Park Commission’s Invasive Species Committee showed representatives of environmental groups a wire and plastic seal that would bind a boat to a trailer, certifying that it was inspected and clean of invasive species.
Boats coming out of Lake George could receive such a seal, and if left unbroken, boats could be reintroduced to the lake without re-inspection.
Committee members said the idea, based on procedures employed at Lake Tahoe, would minimize inconvenience to boaters in the pending boat inspection and decontamination program.
It also would allow marinas to pull boats out of Lake George and store them at shoreline sites or a considerable distance without re-inspection and certification.
Representatives of the Park Commission have been meeting with state Department of Environmental Commission officials to lobby for establishing a trial boat inspection and vessel disinfection program within several months at Norowal Marina. Last week, members of the Invasives Committee met with DEC Region 5 Director Robert Stegemann.
DEC officials have expressed concerns about the impact on anglers, Commission members said March 2.
While the trial program features voluntary compliance, a proposed law would eventually require all boats, before they are launched on Lake George, to be thoroughly inspected — and if deemed necessary — sent to a vessel-washing station to be decontaminated.
The Park Commission has asked state officials for $300,000 to implement the plan. Already, Gov. Cuomo’s proposed state budget has earmarked $100,000 for controlling invasive species in Lake George.
Invasive Committee members said that individuals’ kayaks and canoes wouldn’t likely be included in the inspection program, because a voluntary Lake Steward inspection program conducted last summer by the Lake George Association indicated that kayaks and canoes weren’t carrying invasives. They said they’d be tweaking the law to make it as convenient as possible for anglers, lakeshore homeowners.
“We’ll be relying on a person’s decency to make sure their boats are clean,” Committee member John Pettica said.
Lake George Association Executive Director Walt Lender said the Park Commission was making worthwhile progress.
“This is a very good direction to be going in,’ he said. “It’s good to be exploring ways to get control over boats’ points of entry into the lake.”
The trial program would establish a voluntary inspection site at Norowal Marina in Bolton Landing, and boats found carrying invasive species would be decontaminated at a nearby washing station.
Invasive committee member Joe Stanek said that Norowal was a good site, because over the Fourth of July weekend last year, 325 boats were inspected in the voluntary Lake Steward program. Among those, 25 boats were determined likely to carry invasive species.
He said that in the trial program, boaters would not be charged a fee, although a $30 fee has been estimated for the proposed mandatory program.
“This is a common-sense approach,” he said. “If a person’s boat is clean, drained and dry, they’ll be able to launch.”
Invasives committee members said Friday they are in the process of selecting a boat-washing station, and it’s is likely to cost $41,0000 or so. Eventually, a half-dozen inspection and decontamination stations could be set up around the lake adjacent to launch sites, if the plan is fully implemented after the trial program concludes.
Invasives Committee member Joe Stanek said the inspection and decontamination program was vital to not only protecting the lake’s purity, but avoiding costs of dealing with invasive species contamination.
Stanek said that officials overseeing Lake Tahoe, which is similar to Lake George, estimate that economic losses to Tahoe-area citizens were estimated to far exceed $20 million annually if invasives were left unchecked. That figure includes decreases in property values, recreational use, losses in tourism, impact on water supply and increased boat maintenance, he said.