Peter Bauer of the Fund for Lake George (right center) warns that if action isn’t taken soon to stem the introduction of Asian Clams, milfoil and other nuisance species into the lake, efforts to control the spread of invasives is going to spiral in cost, as well as spoil recreation. Joining Bauer in calling for the state to join local municipalities in imposing a mandatory boat inspection and decontamination program are (from left): Lake George town board member Marisa Muratori, Bolton Town Supervisor Ron Conover, and (at right of Bauer) Lake George Mayor Robert Blais and Queensbury Councilman John Strough.
Several lakeside municipal leaders pledged to impose a mandatory boat inspection and decontamination program if the state’s Lake George Park Commission doesn’t take action soon towards enacting such regulations to protect the lake.
The Park Commission is now devising a voluntary program of boat inspections — to combat the spread of invasive species— that is likely to be in force this summer. As a first step, this effort calls for setting up a prototype boat-washing station in Hague to clean boats that have traces of invasive species — before they are launched in the lake.
Several members of the commission, along with area environmental group leaders, have been working towards establishing a lake-wide mandatory inspection and decontamination program for incoming boats.
But Lake George Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson, Lake George Mayor Robert Blais and Bolton Town Supervisor Ron Conover all said that the three years it might take the Park Commission to make the program mandatory was far too long.
The municipal leaders aired their intentions in a press conference held recently to publicize the publication of a research report on Lake George's invasives problem. The study and report conclude that comprehensive action is needed soon to effectively stem the spread of Asian clams, Eurasian Milfoil, zebra mussels and curlyleaf pondweed, which have proliferated in other lakes in the U.S. and disrupted boating, swimming and water supplies. The study, conducted by the Fund for Lake George and the Lake George Waterkeeper was published last week.
“It's time for sacrifice, education and action,” Blais said. “We need to move forward now with the regulations.”
Dickinson seconded the opinion.
“We're going to be forceful in what we need to do,” he said in support of the study report, that calls for a lakewide program of mandatory inspection and power-washing of boats suspected of carrying invasives. “We're not going to gamble with the future of the lake.”
Although Warren County has passed a law declaring it illegal for boats to transport invasives, it has no provisions for watercraft inspection and cleaning.
The Fund's executive director, Peter Bauer, said that by the end of this summer, the Hague decontamination station would provide valuable, practical information on how to conduct a mandatory program —which would likely require five more stations at popular Lake George boat launches. Noting that 15,000 boats are launched on the lake per year, he said that The Fund was seeking federal grants for the decontamination stations.
One of these stations, he said, could be located adjacent to the Lake George town landfill, off Rte. 9N southwest of the Northway.
Bauer repeated warnings expressed in the report that a mandatory decontamination program was needed to maintain Lake George's present relatively healthy state. He noted that several invasive species, including Asian clams and quagga mussels, are spread by microscopic juvenile offspring contained in boat bilges and engine water, which would be decontaminated under the proposed mandatory program.
“Boats need to be cleaned, drained and dry,” he said.
The report cites experiences of Lake Tahoe, a water body similar to Lake George — and its mandatory inspection program. It notes that prevention of the spread of invasives is far more effective and less costly than managing the invaders after their introduction. Such invasives control costs taxpayers billions of dollars annually across the U.S., the report warns. The report also concludes that dozens of other invasive species could infect Lake George without stringent enforcement of watercraft decontamination. It lists quagga mussels and hydrilla as prime new threats.
Copies of the report can be obtained at www.fundforlakegeorge.org.