To eliminate traces of foreign plants and creatures speedboat is pressure washed at high temperature before it is launched. To curb the threat of invasive species including Asian clams, two panels of Warren County Supervisors voted last week to draft a law that would require mandatory inspection — and decontamination if necessary — of boats before they are launched in county lakes and ponds.
Concerned about the threat of invasive species spreading in area waterways, Warren County Supervisors serving on two county committees voted unanimously Nov. 30 in conceptual support of a mandatory boat inspection and decontamination program.
Their resolution, subject to approval Dec. 21 by the full county board, directs the county Attorney to draft up a law that requires all boats launched in all the county’s lakes and public ponds to first undergo inspection and certification — and when traces of invasives are discovered, the vessels would have to undergo decontamination at a washing station.
The issue was discussed in length at a joint meeting of the county Legislative & Rules and Invasive Species committees.
Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson proposed a moratorium on boats launching in Lake George to stop any additional introduction of species before a decontamination law might be enacted, but the supervisors didn’t vote on this further measure.
The committee took action on the mandatory boat washing program after hearing from Lake George Park Commissioner Executive Director Dave Wick, who said that Asian clams are continuing to spread in lake George, despite efforts to eradicate them.
Task forces sponsored by the Lake George Association and the Fund for Lake George have in the past several years set out hundreds of benthic-barrier mats in shallow areas of Lake George to smother the Asian clams, expecting to eradicate them.
But recently, researchers noted that the Asian clams spread beyond the treated areas and were propagating in four new areas, including the vicinity of Shepard Park Beach. This popular swimming venue is now covered with these mats to kill the clams which have sharp edges that can easily injure swimmers.
Wick has urged for months for the Supervisors to boost their funding of efforts to curb Asian clams, and this fall, the supervisors nearly committed $1 million towards an expanded control program, but decided on pledging $270,000.
For nearly a year the Park Commission has been researching a mandatory inspection and boat-washing program that is expected to prevent the claims and other invasive species from traveling from waterway to waterway, as boats moving from one water body to another are believed to be primary way the invasives are spread. Not only do they cling to boat surfaces, but they travel in watercraft bilges, ballast vessels and engine coolant, scientists have discovered.
Effective control of invasive species requires boats to be pressure washed if they are not certified as clean, drained and dry.
Warren County Supervisors have been frustrated at the state’s minimal contribution towards control efforts.
Despite scientific evidence that exists showing that early action in curbing invasives is vital in preserving waterways from substantial ecological harm, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has so far balked on pursuing abatement measures.
On Nov. 30, the county leaders said that drafting the law might force the state to realize that the local officials are serious about protecting the health of the lake and the future of the area’s tourism-based economy
Fred Monroe suggested that Warren County leaders urge their counterparts in Washington and Essex counties to assure that Lake George has comprehensive protection against launching of contaminated boats around the water body’s entire perimeter.
Wick said he was pleased by the vote Nov 30.
“This is an important step forward today for the county,” he said.
Walt lender of the Lake George Association offered similar praise.
“This is a great message to send to Albany,” he said. “This action shows a great deal of resolve on the local level and demonstrates that county supervisors are serious about protecting Warren County’s water bodies, particularly Lake George.”