In 2010, volunteers place mats designed to curb the spread of Asian Clams in Lake George. Environmentalists have noted that it is 50 to 100 times cheaper to prevent invasives from taking hold in a lake versus trying to combat their propagation once they’ve become established. The Lake George Park Commission is considering a law requiring inspection of all boats, before they are launched in the lake, for the presence of invasive species and mandating remedial disinfection, if needed.
Prompted by lobbying from environmentalists and resolutions enacted by local municipalities, members of the Lake George Park Commission are now taking steps toward making their proposed boat inspection and decontamination law a reality.
Feb. 3, the Commission’s Invasives Species Spread Prevention Committee discussed establishing a trial boat inspection and vessel disinfection program within several months at Norowal Marina.
While the trial program features voluntary compliance, the proposed law would 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.
Already, the Park Commission has a law in place that prohibits placing a boat in Lake George that bears any invasive species — but since the law doesn’t require every boat to be inspected, it doesn’t necessarily have any impact on protecting the lake, environmentalists have argued. Also, because it includes no comprehensive inspection program nor remedial requirements, the law has little practical effect.
Environmental experts have noted that to protect Lake George from widespread infestation and degradation, action is needed.
The fast spread of invasive plants and mussels in Lake Tahoe and Lake Mead have shown that it is far easier and 50 to 100 times cheaper to prevent invasives from taking hold in a lake versus trying to combat their propagation once they’ve become established.
The Lake George Association has been conducting a voluntary boat inspection program for two years.
During summer 2011, the LGA’s “Lake Stewards” at six boat launches inspected 8,584 boats for invasive species, removed suspicious specimens from 52 boats prior to launch, and educated over 19,000 people about the threats of invasive species.
Both the Lake George Village Board and the Lake George Town Board have passed resolutions in support of a law requiring inspections of all boats placed in Lake George for the presence of invasive species, and mandatory decontamination by washing, if necessary.
The law would require marinas and other private boat launch owners and homeowners’ associations to make sure all boats comply with the process.
Boats from other bodies of water have been blamed for importing invasive species such as Asian clams or Eurasian milfoil, which have spread rapidly and prompted a multi-million-dollar invasives control effort in Lake George.
But the state Department of Environmental Conservation has yet to offer their opinion on mandatory inspection.
Meanwhile, sportsmen’s groups have raised a variety of concerns about the proposed law.
They argue that the law favors the wealthy, who can avoid repeated inspections during a season by leaving their boat docked in the lake from spring to fall.
Also, the law restricts fishermen who routinely seek to get out on the lake early in the morning for prime angling.
Then there’s the $30 fee for the washdown. Also, the proposed law calls for a two-week drying period before a boat is reintroduced into Lake George, which is likely to further restrict the use of the lake by sportsmen.
Marina owners have also expressed their concerns about the proposal, citing how it is likely to cause congestion at their facilities and frustrate customers, as well as prompt boaters to seek out other lakes for recreation.