Assemblyman Dan Stec has not endorsed the mandatory inspection and decontamination program, but he expressed his support for Lake George during a Feb. 6 Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee hearing with DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens.
New York State has a responsibility to care for Lake George.
That was the message delivered to Dede Scozzafava, deputy secretary of state for local government, during a recent visit to Ticonderoga.
Scozzafava came to Ti to outline the governor’s proposed budget for about 40 people at Ti’s North Country Community College campus. Much of the conversation, though, centered on the future of Lake George.
Several people commented on the significance of the lake to the local economy and cited the threat of invasive species.
“We depend on the lake to support our economy,” Ken Engler of Hague said. “We can’t let the lake deteriorate.”
The Lake George Park Commission has discussed regulations to fight the spread of invasive species in the lake — regulations that could include mandatory decontamination of boats prior to launching, designated hours at public launches and new fees. The state Department of Environmental Conservation, though, has taken no action.
John Whitely of Ticonderoga noted many groups — conservationists, sportsmen and others — agree Lake George faces serious threats from invasive species. Those groups are calling for action, yet New York State has been silent.
“It’s very heartening to see these diverse groups come together,” Whitely said, “but we can’t get any support from Albany.”
Invasive species are reaching the lake from boats that have been in other bodies of water and carry the unwanted hitchhikers, according to David Wick, executive director of the LGPC.
Lake George currently has five invasive species in its waters— asian clam, eurasian milfoil, zebra mussels, curlyleaf pondweed and spiny waterflea. The LGPC spends more than $1 million a year to manage and eradicate invasive species.
Steve Ramant of Hague expressed concern with state land purchases in the Adirondacks. That money, he said, should be used to protect Lake George from invasive species.
“The health of Lake George should take precedent over land purchases,” he said. “Once Lake George is lost, it’s gone forever.”
Dick Glading of Hague agreed, pointing out Lake George is owned by the state.
“What we don’t need is more state land,” he said. “What we do need is to preserve the property we do have. Stop buying more land and start maintaining the land we do have.”
Engler urged Scozzafava to ask the state for assistance with Lake George.
“The cost of removing invasive species from the lake is a lot more than preventing them,” he said.
Scozzafava promised she would discuss Lake George with DEC officials.
Following Scozzafava’s visit to Ticonderoga, a coalition of Lake George groups issued a statement in support of state action. The coalition wants a mandatory boat inspection and decontamination program in place for Lake George this year.
“We simply cannot afford to allow another invasive in Lake George,” stressed Walt Lender of Ticonderoga, executive director of the Lake George Association. “The steward (boat inspection) program will continue to do all it can, but that program needs to be substantially augmented with other tools to prevent the introduction and spread of invasives—from strategically positioned boat wash stations around the lake to enforcement of laws already on the books. The more we can do now, the more successful we will be in keeping the next round of invasives out of the lake in the coming season.”
The lake coalition includes the LGA, the FUND for Lake George, Lake George Mayor Bob Blais, Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover, Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson and Queensbury Supervisor-at-Large Bill Mason.
“Lake George is a uniquely special resource, so special, in fact, that the State of New York established a dedicated commission to protect it,” Blais said. “For those of us who know and love the lake, and who understand the gravity of the threat at hand, we have no choice but to put our best foot forward and do all we possibly can to implement actions designed to prevent the introduction of more invasive species.”
The coalition has cited Lake Tahoe in Nevada, which implemented a mandatory inspection and decontamination program after Asian clams were discovered in 2002. Since that program was implemented in 2008 no new invasives have entered the lake.
“We should learn the lesson of Lake Tahoe,” Mason said. “Having allowed too much time to pass and their Asian clam crisis to escalate before instituting a prevention program, Tahoe regulators have stressed the importance of swift and decisive action to stop invasives.“
Assemblyman Dan Stec has not endorsed the mandatory inspection and decontamination program, but he expressed his support for the lake during a Feb. 6 Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee hearing with DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens.
“Lake George is crucial to my district, not only as a tourist attraction and source of revenue, but as a treasured part of our community’s history,” Stec said. “Ensuring that we protect this body of water and others like it is essential to the continued promotion of outdoor recreation and economic development in our region.
“I would like to thank Commissioner Martens for taking the time to discuss topics like invasive species and waterway protection. With his input, we can better figure out strategies to ensure our lakes and bodies of water remain the jewels of our community they are today.”