Customizing a dock on Lake George? There may be nothing in the Lake George Park Commission’s regulations explicitly allowing or prohibiting some modification or embellishment, but according Molly Gallagher, the Lake George Park Commission’s permit administrator, there are precedents.
“Some of these precedents for what is allowed or for what requires a permit were in my head, or in the head of the Commission’s first executive director, Mike White,” Gallagher told the Commissioners at a recent monthly meeting. “We also have Records of Decisions and individual resolutions. Now I’m putting some of these on paper in the form of a memorandum that will aid you in your deliberations and help guide administrators as well as dock builders and homeowners.” » Continue Reading.
By disposition, if not by design, Dave Wick is the local official least likely to become the center of a controversy. He directed Warren County’s Soil and Water Conservation program for almost twenty years and in 2012, he was recruited to succeed Mike White as the executive director of the Lake George Park Commission. Wick’s talent, a rare one, lies is combining practice with politics; engineering storm water controls, demonstrating the finer points of boat decontamination, while, at the same time, attracting and retaining the good will of elected officials and influential environmentalists. If he suffers from existential anxiety or self-doubt, cynicism or an ironic sense of humor, it’s not evident. The earnest, self-confident demeanor that he wears at public meetings, in conferences with officials and in interviews with the local press, never falters.
So it must have come as a surprise to Wick when, on November 14, he was summoned to the State Capitol and told that he was to submit his resignation, immediately. His inquisitor, Basil Seggos, must have been equally surprised when Wick replied, in so many words, that he’d rather not. » Continue Reading.
The Lake George Association (LGA) is partnering with the Lake George Park Commission (LGPC) for a 2015 Recreation Study of the Lake. The project is expected to update the 2005 Lake George Recreation Study.
The 2005 study found 460,372 total boat use days from April-Sept with 44,177 motorboat launches and 75,835 public beach users estimated for 2005. The average horsepower on the lake was 194 while the average horsepower of performance boats was 500. During peak use, there were 261 PWCs, 303 canoes/kayaks, 317 sailboats, and 1,553 motorboats, for a grand total of 2,434 boats out on the Lake at one time at peak use. However, over the course of an entire weekend day during the summer – there were 4,700 motorboats on the Lake, and 2,500 motorboats on a weekday. » Continue Reading.
The Lake George Park Commission (LGPC) has established a “Frozen Boats” Program that allows local residents to have their boats certified as invasive-free with a Vessel Inspection Control Seal (VICS) in advance of the 2014 boating season.
Walt Lender, the LGA’s Executive Director, said in a statement issued to the press that “the LGPC’s efforts to create a comprehensive mandatory inspection program to protect the Lake is no small task – and seemingly minor details, such as tagging frozen boats, can help decrease congestion at the inspection stations early on in the season, which will be important to the success of the program this first year. When folks arrive at the Lake this summer we want them to understand that lake protection and recreation can go hand in hand. It’s like a first impression – you want to get it right.”
Having a boat with an intact inspection seal acquired through the Frozen Boats Program removes the need for that boat to visit one of the six regional inspection stations for a ‘clean, drained, and dry’ inspection prior to its first launch of the year into Lake George. This local program will provide inspection seals for trailered boats that have been demonstrated to be exposed to the winter elements sufficiently long to kill aquatic invasive species. » Continue Reading.
The Lake George Park Commission (LGPC) has published a proposed rule for mandatory inspection of trailered boats launching on Lake George in an effort to limit the continued introduction of aquatic invasive species into the lake.
The public comment period is now open and public hearings have been scheduled for October 10th at 2 pm at the Roaring Brook Conference Center in Lake George and at 6 pm at the Best Western in Ticonderoga. (Note the hearing in Lake George was changed from its original day and location). » Continue Reading.
After nearly two years of research and discussion, the Lake George Park Commission (LGPC) voted unanimously at its monthly meeting Tuesday to present its draft plan to limit the spread the invasive species into Lake George to the public for comment. Once the Draft Lake George Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Plan is finalized it’s expected the Commission will begin the rule-making process required to put the plan into place.
Invasive species are non-native plants and animals that, when introduced in an ecosystem, can rapidly reproduce and overwhelm their environment. Eurasian watermilfoil was the first invasive species to reach Lake George in 1986, and millions of dollars have been spent to keep infestations of the plant in check. Since that time, four other invasives have been introduced to Lake George, including Asian clam and Spiny Waterflea which were discovered in Lake George since 2010. Asian clam eradication efforts by both the State and local governments have topped $1.5 million dollars in only two years time. » Continue Reading.
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Lake George Park Commission (LGPC) have announced they will take actions to prevent the spread and threat of aquatic invasive species in preparation for the summer 2013 Lake George boating season. In addition, an environmental review of a long-term plan to address invasive species is expected to begin shortly.
The announcement is the latest state and local action designed to reduce the spread of invasive species, particularly aquatic invasives. In 2011 Warren County passed a law making the introduction and transport of aquatic invasive species into Warren County waterbodies illegal. The state’s first county law of its kind imposes a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 15 days in jail for violators. In July 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Invasive Species Prevention Act into law, directing DEC and the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets to develop by September 2013 a proposed list of invasive species to be regulated and prohibited. » Continue Reading.
After publishing “Robert Moses and the Lake George Park Commission” in this space a couple of months ago, several people asked me to explain a reference I had made in that piece to a proposed Adirondack Park-wide authority or commission modeled upon the original Lake George Park Commission.
It’s not surprising that few people remember it. After the legislative session of 1964, the enabling legislation was shelved, and by 1967, the public’s attention had shifted to Laurence Rockefeller’s proposal for an Adirondack National Park and later, to Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondacks and its most important recommendation, the formation of an Adirondack Park Agency. » Continue Reading.
Almost every park and camp ground in New York State is administered by the Office of Parks and Recreation, with the exception of those in the Catskills and the Adirondacks. The Department of Environmental Conservation manages those.
Wint Aldrich, a Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation at Parks through four administrations, once explained that anomaly to me. “The Conservation Department didn’t want Robert Moses anywhere near the Forest Preserve,” Aldrich said.
Moses, who had controlled everything even remotely related to New York’s parks since 1924, was notoriously averse to wilderness preservation. » Continue Reading.
The Lake George Park Commission has approved a resolution supporting legislation drafted by the state’s Invasive Species Council that would make it illegal to transport an invasive species from one water body to another.
The proposed law would create regulations stronger than any currently in place on Lake George, said Mike White, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission. » Continue Reading.
New studies by the U.S. Geological Survey confirm arguments that Lake George conservation organizations and agencies have made for years: development threatens the aquatic life of streams.
“We learned that there is no ‘safe zone,’ meaning that even minimal or early stages of development can negatively affect aquatic life in urban streams,” said Tom Cuffney, a USGS biologist.
“When the area of driveways, parking lots, streets and other impervious cover reaches 10 percent of a watershed area, many types of pollution-sensitive aquatic insects decline by as much as one third, compared to streams in undeveloped forested watersheds,” said Cuffney. Native fish also decline in streams even at low levels of development, levels historically considered safe for stream life, the studies found.
“The studies validate the findings of our Lake George Stream Assessment Project, initiated three years ago by Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, namely, that land uses impact the health of our streams,” said Peter Bauer, the executive director of the Fund for Lake George.
“We know from the sites we sampled that streams decline in water quality as they pass through areas that are more heavily developed,” said Bauer.
“These studies show that we need to be careful,” said Emily DeBolt of the Lake George Association, which operates a stream biology monitoring program for volunteers.
While even the most developed watersheds within the Lake George basin are not yet urbanized, protection of existing stream corridors should be a priority, said Bauer and DeBolt.
According to the USGS, the studies examined the effects of urbanization on algae, aquatic insects, fish, habitat and chemistry in urban streams in nine areas across the country.
“As a watershed becomes developed, the amount of pavement, sidewalks and other types of urban land cover increases. During storms, water is rapidly transported over these urban surfaces to streams. The rapid rise and fall of stream flow and changes in temperature can be detrimental to fish and aquatic insects. Stormwater from urban development can also contain fertilizers and insecticides used along roads and on lawns, parks and golf courses,” the USGS said.
The Lake George Park Commission is authorized by New York State law to protect stream corridors within the Lake George watershed, said Mike White, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission.
The Commission has drafted regulations that will limit construction and the cutting of trees and vegetation within 35 feet of a tributary of Lake George.
The regulations are currently under review by the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform. Once that office approves the draft, a series of public hearings will be held, said White.
“Stream buffers are the most efficient way to protect the water quality and ecology of streams, and regulations are the only effective way of preserving those buffers,” said Peter Bauer.
“Once a buffer is disturbed, it’s very difficult to restore it to its original function,” Bauer said.
Investing in stream corridor protection is also an investment in the water quality of Lake George, he said.
“One half of all the water entering Lake George comes from streams,” said Bauer. “The fate of Lake George is tied inextricably to the health of its streams.”
Photo: Lake George Stream Assessment monitors, 2008.
Lake George’s Supervisor wants his town to become the first within the Lake George watershed to ban the use of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus.
If the ordinance that Supervisor Frank McCoy has proposed is adopted in June, Lake George will not only be the first town within the watershed to limit phosphorus, but the first community within the Adirondack Park to take that step, said John Sheehan, a spokesman for the Adirondack Council.
“The Lake George Park Commission should follow the town’s lead and ban phosphorus in fertilizers everywhere on the lake,” said Sheehan. » Continue Reading.
When my wife Lisa and I were considering purchasing the Lake George Mirror, among the first people we consulted was Chuck Hawley, the artist, politician and activist who died on March 9 at the age of 86.
Hawley was a part of my life for as long as I can remember. He was at my engagement party and my father’s funeral. He was Lake George’s supervisor and a member of the County board when my father published the Warrensburg-Lake George News, and the two developed a mutually useful relationship. He’d tell my father what would happen before it happened – information prized by a weekly newspaper editor when he’s competing with a daily, as I’ve learned for myself.
In 1998, I wrote a profile of Chuck for the Lake George Mirror, which I reproduce here. About twenty years ago, some hikers on Black Mountain discovered a slab of rockface inscribed: ‘R.Rogers.’ Whether this was in fact the autograph of Robert Rogers, as the hikers believed, is still subject to debate, but there is no doubt that many people around Lake George hoped that it was authentic.
Rogers and his Rangers have always appealed to our imaginations, perhaps because they were the first identifiably American heroes. Chuck Hawley, whose painting of a Ranger is reproduced here, has done more than anyone else in our region to shape the popular image of the Rangers.
The painting was one of a series depicting the Rangers commissioned by Harold Veeder in 1966 for the newly constructed Holiday Inn. They have been republished often in newspapers, magazines and books, and reproductions are best sellers at Fort William Henry and at the Lake George Historical Association’s shop in the old Court House.
Hawley wanted the portraits to be as historically accurate as possible; he spent months in the libraries researching the Rangers’ dress, habits and weapons; he read contemporary accounts and picked the brains of historians like Harrison Bird, the author of numerous books about the era, who served with Hawley on the Lake George Park Commission.
When he began the series, Hawley was Supervisor for the Town of Lake George, and the model for the portrait reproduced here was his colleague on the Warren County Board of Supervisors, Earl Bump, the Supervisor from Horicon. Another model was Howard MacDonald, for many years a member of the Lake George Village Board of Trustees and the founder of Lake George’s Little League.
Despite the fact that he has been both a public official and a painter (as well as a graphic designer and the owner of an advertising agency) Hawley has really had only one career: Lake George. It is a career for which he was in some sense predestined. Stuart Hawley, his father, was Warren County Clerk for twenty-five years; in 1950 he was elected to the New York State Assembly and served through 1958, when he was succeeded by Richard Bartlett. Assemblyman Hawley introduced the legislation authorizing the construction of the Prospect Mountain Highway. Fred Hawley, who was supervisor of Lake George from 1918 through 1921, was Chuck’s grandfather.
Hawley’s deep roots in the area (his own family came to Lake George a few decades after Rogers departed at the end of the French and Indian Wars) may have helped to make him an unusually farsighted public official.
He believed that the health of the tourist economy depended upon the protection of the lake, and the orderly development of the village and the shores. The businessmen who came to make a quick dollar, he has said, “can’t see past August. They’re the shortsighted ones. The visionaries see as far as Labor Day weekend.”
In 1997, Hawley gave up his seat on the Lake George Park Commission, which he had occupied for thirty years, ten of them as chairman.
In the late 1970s, worried that heavy development along the shores would cause the lake to lose its famous translucent clarity, and frustrated by the Park Commission’s lack of authority and funding, Hawley campaigned for the creation of a task force that would study the challenges facing Lake George and suggest approaches for meeting them.
In 1984, the Task Force for the Future of the Lake George Park was organized, with Hawley as a member. Of its 200 recommendations, the most significant were those urging the Governor and the legislature to enhance the Park Commission’s regulatory powers and to provide it with a reliable, independent source of funding. Hawley wrote to Governor Cuomo, “New responsibilities and powers for the Commission are vitally necessary to save Lake George. At this late date there is no alternative.”
Former Lake George Park Commission Chairman Carl DeSantis says of Hawley’s tenure: “He wasn’t afraid to take a stand, even if his position wasn’t popular with business. We’ve been good friends since the 1940s, and we both remember when the lake was a lot cleaner. Chuck has dedicated his life to protecting Lake George.”
Although Hawley has retired from official life, his interest in Lake George is undiminished. At his home on Pine Point, the lake is never out of view, and it has survived better than he expected. He’s pleased that the experimental use of sonar is under consideration, having fought to use that means to eradicate milfoil since the late 1980s. In 1971 he wondered aloud to a reporter from the Lake George Mirror why the Lake George business district faced away from the lake; in the late 1950s he and the late Alex Muratori developed a plan to build a boardwalk along the lake. He’s glad that one is underway.
And, of course, he still paints. Hawley’s landscapes of an unspoiled Lake George have been powerful tools for its preservation.
Chuck Hawley’s painting of Robert Rogers, based on Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Earl Bump.
Hawley receiving Lake George’s Wilbur Dow Award from Dow’s son Bill, president of the Lake George Steamboat Company, in 2002.
Two landscape paintings of Lake George by Hawley: “Black Mountain in Spring” and “Down the lake in Spring.”
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