Posts Tagged ‘Lake George’

Monday, August 30, 2010

Commentary: Uplands Need More Protection

Politicians often complain that the Adirondack Park is over-regulated, but a case can be made that in some respects the Park is under-regulated.

All it takes is one house on a mountaintop or ridge to spoil a wild vista, and yet the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), which was created to safeguard the region’s natural resources, has no regulations aimed at protecting the uplands from unsightly development.

The uplands are clearly at risk. Given that most of the Park’s private waterfront has been developed, people with money are turning to the next best thing: a big home on a hill with a commanding view.

An article by George Earl in the September/October issue of the Adirondack Explorer reveals that dozens of conspicuous homes—visible from roads and trails—have been built in the uplands of Keene over the past few decades. And that’s just one town. The same kind of development is occurring in other parts of the Park, most notably around Lake George.

The APA does have tools to protect uplands when it has jurisdiction over a project. For example, it can require that a house be screened by trees or situated to minimize its visual impact.

The problem is that the APA often lacks jurisdiction. The agency does have the authority to review projects above the 2,500-foot contour, but this is essentially meaningless. APA spokesman Keith McKeever could not think of a single house built above that elevation, not even in Keene (“The Home of the High Peaks”). Near Lake George, Black Mountain is the only summit that exceeds 2,500 feet, and it lies within the state-owned Forest Preserve. In short, all the development around Lake George and the rest of the Park takes place below the 2,500-foot contour.

The APA also has jurisdiction when a house is built on property classified as Resource Management—the strictest of the agency’s six zoning categories for private land. Much of the Park’s uplands fall within this classification, but many stick-out homes are built on less-regulated lands where the APA does not automatically have jurisdiction.

Finally, the APA lacks jurisdiction even in Resource Management lands (as well as other lands) if a home is built in a subdivision approved before the agency’s creation.

Most of the Park’s towns lack zoning rules or the expertise to deal with upland development. So it’s up to the APA to address the problem. It will be difficult politically and technically. Even the definition of “upland” is tricky in a region where the elevation ranges from 95 feet at Lake Champlain to 5,344 feet at the top of Mount Marcy.

If nothing is done, however, we’ll continue to see a degradation of the Park’s wild character. It’s said that you can’t eat the scenery, but this isn’t true. Natural beauty is an economic asset that has been drawing tourists to the region for well over a century. For this reason, too, the uplands should be protected.

Photo by George Earl: Upland home in Keene.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Friday, August 27, 2010

A Lake George Comeback For A Once Famed Sailboat

Led by Lake George’s John Kelly and Reuben Smith of Hall’s Boat Corp., the Mystic Seaport maritime museum in Mystic, Connecticut, is documenting a once-famous class of sail boat that has slipped into obscurity.

The boats, Sound Interclubs, were sailed on Lake George from the 1930s through the 1950s, when the Lake George Club replaced its racing fleet with Stars and Rainbows.

Two of the surviving sail boats have been acquired by John Kelly, the Assembly Point resident whose 1936 Lake George Gar Wood was restored by Reuben Smith and the crew at Hall’s earlier this year. Hall’s is now restoring Kelly’s Sound Interclubs.

Of Kelly’s two boats, one was in relatively good condition, but even that one had been disfigured by the force of the 42 foot mast and the weight of the lead keel, said Smith. So before he could begin the work of restoring the boats, he needed an accurate set of plans.

Smith said he called Mystic Seaport in search of plans, photos and any additional information that might be in the museum’s extensive archives, and while dozens of classic photos had been taken of the boats racing in Long Island Sound in the 1920s and 30s, no plans survived.

That inquiry led Mystic Seaport’s staff to start researching the Sound Interclub, said Luisa Watrous, the museum’s Intellectual Property Manager.

“Mystic Seaport is delighted that Reuben Smith and John Kelly are doing this work, because the museum maintains a representative collection of American sailboats, and there’s too little information about the Sound Interclubs,” said Watrous. “The Museum doesn’t have a boat of this type in the collection, and the restoration at Hall’s offers us an opportunity to clarify and update the photographic and vessel records.”

In the absence of the designer’s original plans (believed to have been lost in a fire), Smith is drafting a new set of plans as he restores Kelly’s first Sound Interclub; his plans, notes and photos of the restoration will guide the restoration of the other four Sound Interclubs.

Mystic Seaport will be one of the beneficiaries of Smith’s work, says Luisa Watrous,

Watrous, however, is not merely collecting the information gathered by Smith and Kelly; she’s heavily involved in co-ordinating research on the boats, enlisting the aid of people like Rik Alexanderson, whose grandfather, E.F. Alexanderson, was among those who brought one-design racing to Lake George.

Alexanderson is conducting oral interviews about the boats’ history on Lake George, said Watrous. Others, like David Warren, have contributed photos of the boats being sailed on Lake George. “I tend to feel that stories preserve themselves; they’re waiting to be told and will be told when the time is right,” said Watrous. The oral histories and photos are not only valuable additions to Mystic Seaport’s archives, but can assist Reuben Smith and John Kelly in their work, he said.

For Watrous, researching the Sound Interclubs is not merely a professional obligation; it’s a way for her to rediscover her links to the lake. “I have personal ties to the lake through my family, and I even sailed on Sound Interclubs in the 1970s,” he said. “After the Lake George Club switched to racing Stars and Rainbows, two Sound Interclubs were sold to Canoe Island Lodge, where I worked as a college student in the 1970s.”

John Kelly says he hopes to take his first sail in his Sound Interclub sometime this fall. “I became interested in the boats when I was researching the history of my Gar Wood, which was owned by a Lake George summer resident, Dan Winchester. A member of his family showed me an album that included some photos of a sailboat I’d never seen before. I showed them to Reuben, who immediately identified them as Sound Interclubs,” he said.

Designed by Charles Mower in 1926, the boats were famous in the 1930s as the fastest boats in the Westchester and Connecticut waters of Long Island Sound. “The whole idea behind one-design racing is that it’s a test of skills; it has nothing to do with who has the most money or the best technology,” said Reuben Smith.

By 1935, however, the boats began to feel dated to the Long Island skippers, many of whom were America’s Cup yachtsmen, and they replaced the boats with International One Designs, said Michael Kelly. Once the boats were no longer used for racing in Long Island Sound, they were brought to Lake George.

Reuben Smith says he knows of at least three other Sound Interclubs: one on Lake George, another in Texas and one on City Island in New York. He hopes they’ll be brought to Hall’s or to another Lake George boat shop and restored.

As does John Kelly. At the very least, he’ll get some competition. What’s the fun of owning a fast sail boat if there’s no one to compete with?

Photos: Above, Sound Interclubs racing on Lake George from the files of Lake George Mirror. Below, Sound Interclubs racing off Long Island. Photo by Morris Rosenfeld, courtesy of Mystic Seaport.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lake George’s Best-Kept Hiking Secret is Out

Cat and Thomas mountains have only been open to hiking for the past seven years, but word is getting out.

On the Adirondacks’ most famous and perhaps most scenic lake, hikes abound. Visitors can choose from challenges, like Black or Tongue Mountain, or easy afternoon climbs, such as Sleeping Beauty or Pilot’s Knob.

Still, among those treasures, Cat and Thomas stand out for their ease of access, stellar views and, well, relative solitude. Located near Bolton Landing on the lake’s west side, the hikes just aren’t as well-known as the usual suspects. But that, of course, is changing.

The mountains, formerly private, were purchased by the Lake George Land Conservancy in 2003 for $1 million. Visitors can hike one or both mountains, or — my favorite — connect them both via a 6.5 mile loop. The mountains are reached via former logging roads that don’t ascend more than 750 feet. However, the connecting loop includes a difficult trail that requires scrambling up and down some considerably steep sections.

Thomas is the lesser of the two peaks, at least in terms of views — it faces west, so you can’t see the lake. There is, however, a neat cabin at the top (or at least there was the last time I visited — the property owners have been planning to remove it at some point).

Cat offers a stellar view of Lake George from its bare, rocky summit. Spread out before you is Bolton Landing, Tongue Mountain, and in the distance, the range of peaks stretching up the lake’s east side.

To reach the preserve, take Northway Exit 24 and head east. After two miles, make a right on Valley Woods Road. The main parking lot is on the right shortly after the turn. There’s also a separate parking lot further down for those who just want to climb Cat Mountain. The trails are well-marked and easy to follow.


Friday, August 20, 2010

A Rebirth for Lake George Dinner Theatre?

The Lake George Dinner Theatre began more than forty years ago as a producer of light, summer stock. Over the years, it has presented entertaining but predictable fare to an increasingly aging audience, usually delivered to the door in motor coaches.

Three years ago, actor and director Terry Rabine purchased the business, fully aware that while he could ill-afford to lose the tour bus trade, the Lake George Dinner Theatre required new energy, more sophisticated shows and new audiences if it was to survive.

This year’s production, Our Son’s Wedding, may well mark the re-birth of the Lake George Dinner Theatre.

A comedy that’s nearly flawless in its construction and execution, Our Son’s Wedding is what every Dinner Theatre production is supposed to be: well-crafted, fast-paced entertainment after a perfectly fine dinner.

Our Son’s Wedding, however, also features one of the best casts ever seen in Lake George.

And the play itself, while respecting and mining all the conventions of a two-act comedy, is a far more thoughtful piece than any heretofore presented on the Dinner Theatre’s stage.

Whether you find the ostensible subject matter – the pending marriage of two gay men – objectionable or a welcome and belated nod by a local, mainstream entertainment venue toward 21st century realities, will probably depend upon your politics.

But the theme of the play, and the issues that the playwright, Donna DiMatteo, obviously wants to explore, are far more universal and timeless than contemporary attitudes toward homosexuality.

Even the class, social and ethnic fault lines that still demarcate American society, and which are also exploited for comic effect, are ultimately less important to DiMatteo than family bonds, especially the love parents naturally feel for their children.

Mary, played by Marina Re, and Angelo, played by Paul D’Amato, travel from the Bronx to Boston to attend their son’s wedding. They’re staying at the Ritz-Carleton, which is meant to stand in for all posh hotels and where Angelo is painfully uncomfortable until he can divert himself with the bathroom’s plumbing, his particular field of expertise.

Mary’s experience and observations have widened her horizons far further than her husband’s; she’s noticed enough strange things among her own family and neighbors to know that ‘normal’ is a relative term.

Nevertheless, even she describes their trip as a visit “to a foreign country, where we don’t even speak the friggin’ language.”

That foreign country is not simply a hotel in Boston; it’s every world they’re unfamiliar with, including that of their son’s.

Marina Re and Paul D’Amato are pleasures to watch. One indication of the skills of Marina Re, who created the role of Mary at Gloucester Stage Company, is the fact that she is never upstaged by D’Amato.

There’s a reason why D’Amato is still famous for his supporting role in Slap Shot, the 1977 Paul Newman movie that’s still shown on every high school hockey team’s away-game bus trips. He has a big personality, one that can command a screen and a stage and certainly a room the size of the Dinner Theatre at the Holiday Inn.

But when required, D’Amato can limit the force of his character’s own outsized personality; it’s a calibration of voice, gesture and even posture. When we learn that the bullish Angelo is no less reflective than Mary, it comes not as a surprise but as a delayed recognition.

Mick Bleyer plays Michael as someone who is charming but vulnerable; his vulnerability
and the wish to protect him unite not only Mary and Angelo, but Mary and Angelo and the steady David, played by Eric Rasmussen.

Our Son’s Wedding will be performed every evening Wednesday through Saturday until October 14.

Anyone who’s become a supporter of the Adirondack Theatre Festival, the Lake George Theater Lab and Wrightstage in recent years owes the Lake George Dinner Theater another chance. With that kind of support, Rabine could take the Dinner Theatre in any number of unpredictable directions.

Photo: Paul D’Amato and Marina Re, courtesy of Lake George Dinner Theatre

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror
http://www.lakegeorgemirror.com


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lake George Association to Celebrate 125th Years

The Lake George Association will hold its historic 125th Annual Meeting this Friday, August 20 at 10 am at the Lake George Club. The public is invited to attend and the meeting is free; an optional lunch afterward is $21 per person. Reservations are required.

Ken Wagner, Ph.D. will be the keynote speaker. Ken is editor in chief of Lake and Reservoir Management, the international journal of the North American Lake Management Society. For decades, Ken has played a valuable role in environmental research conducted on Lake George, working with the Lake George Association and other lake organizations. He is owner of Water Resource Services, a lake management consulting firm. Ken has worked for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and has 25 years of experience with northeastern consulting firms, working on a variety of water resources assessment and management projects. Ken holds a B.A. in environmental biology from Dartmouth College and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in natural resource management from Cornell University.

The public will also have the opportunity to learn more about the environmental status of Lake George, and to meet others with a passion for its protection. Updates on many environmental initiatives taking place around the Lake will be given. Executive Director Walt Lender will give an update on the West Brook Conservation Initiative, considered the most important lake saving project in the LGA’s 125-year history. Randy Rath, LGA project manager, will provide summaries on the LGA’s other lake saving projects, such as those at English Brook, Hague and Finkle Brook deltas, Indian Brook, and the town of Putnam. Emily DeBolt will speak on the LGA’s educational and outreach initiatives, as well as New York State’s new phosphorus law, and the status of wall lettuce, a new invasive species growing in the watershed. Emily will
also provide results from the work of the LGA Lake Stewards and from the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program.

New members, and those who care about the lake and would like to learn more about protecting it, are welcome to attend the meeting to meet the board of directors, staff, volunteers and other members. Members will be voting on new directors for the organization: Thomas Jarrett and Salim Amersi, as well as returning directors Holly de Buys, William Dutcher and John Schaninger.

The New York State Legislature adopted a joint resolution commemorating the LGA’s 125th Anniversary in April of this year. The resolution recognized the LGA’s “long unyielding commitment to excellence,” and commended the “efforts of thousands of LGA members who, over the years, have increased the public’s awareness and understanding of Lake issues and have actively worked to preserve the purity of the Lake George waters for future generations to come.” The resolution also recognized many of the organization’s accomplishments throughout its history, including:

The LGA was “the first to re-stock the Lake with popular fish species.”

The LGA was “the first to provide a non-point source pollution program for the Lake.”

The LGA was “the first to establish a buoy system in the Lake.”

The LGA “advanced proactive management by government to protect the Lake’s water quality and influenced state leaders … to undertake the first series of technical studies of the Lake,” and later “ensured that effective storm water controls and wastewater treatment systems were included in development plans.”

The LGA worked toward “protecting the interests of dock owners, shoreline property owners and those who navigated the lake” by advocating for “a long-awaited and fought for verdict by the New York State Supreme court regarding lake levels, requiring a commission to supervise maintenance of water levels between 4.0 and 2.5 feet at the Roger’s Rock gauge between June 1 and Oct. 1.”

The LGA has “overseen over 100-plus lake-saving projects to stabilize eroding stream banks and shorelines, reclaim ponds for sediment retention, enhance wetlands, install roadside storm water catchments, and dredge deltas.”

The LGA has “expanded its programming to include active and participatory educational programs for lake users, including but not limited to, a Floating Classroom, serving 1,000 students and visitors each year.”

The Warren County Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation naming the month of August “Lake George Association Month.” The proclamation recognized that “the members of the Lake George Association have worked together to protect, conserve and improve the beauty and quality of the Lake George Basin for 125 years.”

A special postal cancellation stamp has been designed to commemorate the historic occasion of the LGA’s 125th annual meeting. On the day of the meeting, August 20, all post offices around the Lake will hand stamp any mail posted on that day upon request. Commemorative caches will also be available in limited quantities.

Area Stewart’s Shops have renamed the store’s Birthday Cake ice cream flavor in honor of the LGA for the month of August.

Since 1885, the members of the LGA have been protecting and improving the beauty and quality of the Lake George basin. LGA is a non-profit membership organization of people interested in working together to protect, conserve, and improve the beauty and quality of the Lake George Basin. For more information, contact the LGA at (518) 668-3558 or visit the LGA website at www.lakegeorgeassociation.org.


Friday, August 13, 2010

LG: Preserve Renamed in Honor of Conservationist

The Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve, which was protected by the Lake George Land Conservancy in large part through the efforts of the late Lynn Schumann, was re-dedicated in honor of the conservancy’s former director on August 9.

“We’re here as an act of living love,” said Mark Johnson, a founding trustee of the Lake George Land Conservancy who served as a master of ceremonies. According to Johnson, the re-dedication of the Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve was an act of love for both a particular place and a particular person, whose names will be permanently linked.

“A preserve is as close to perpetuity as anything we can know of,” said Johnson.

The Reverend Bruce Tamlyn, the Silver Bay chaplain who officiated at the wedding of Lynn and Kurt Schumann, said in his invocation, “the beauty of this place will be forever joined with the beauty of Lynn.”

Lynn Schumann, who died in March at the age of 46, served as the Lake George Land Conservancy’s executive director from 1999 to 2006.

She resigned the post to become the Land Trust Alliance’s northeast director, where she helped guide the work of 650 land trusts throughout New York and New England. Prior to joining the Conservancy, Schumann was the Wilton Wildlife Preserve’s first director. She was a graduate of Emma Willard and St. Lawrence University.

During Schumann’s tenure as the Lake George Land Conservancy’s executive director, membership increased from 250 to 1,171. At the time of her departure, the organization had protected nearly 5,000 acres of land and 11,000 feet of shoreline.

According to Sarah Hoffmann, the Conservancy’s communications co-ordinator, Schumann regarded the preservation of Pilot Knob Ridge as her greatest achievement on Lake George.

Before being acquired by the Conservancy, Pilot Knob Ridge was the site of a house and road visible from the lake, the west shore, Assembly Point and Kattskill Bay. “It was a gross insult upon the landscape,” said Lionel Barthold, one of the speakers at the dedication ceremony.

Pilot Knob Ridge was the first parcel acquired by the Conservancy that was already developed. The visibility of the cleared portions of the property from the lake, and the danger that it would be developed further, helped persuade donors that acquiring this piece was critical for protecting the character of the eastern shore, Schumann said in 2000, when the 223 acre parcel was purchased.

“Protecting Pilot Knob Ridge set a precedent; it showed that we could un-do an offense upon the landscape,” Barthold said at the dedication ceremony.

Once the property was owned by the Lake George Land Conservancy, the house on the ridge was removed. At a farewell party in 2006, Schumann said the razing of the house was a highlight of her career.

“The organization made a significant decision to remove the house situated prominently on the hillside,” she said. “It was a sunny spring morning when the wrecking crew began the process of demolishing the house. I peered out over the ridge and saw some 40 boats anchored along the shoreline cheering as the house came down.”

While Schumann loved the waters of Lake George and was dedicated to protecting water quality, she was especially passionate about protecting wooded uplands like Pilot Knob Ridge, said Kurt Schumann.

“These breath-taking views, the wild life, these are the things Lynn fought to protect,” said Schumann. “We have all lost a conservation champion.”

Among other speakers at the ceremony were Chris Navitsky and Susan Darrin. Rick Bolton and Tim Wechgelaer performed some of Lynn’s favorite songs, and Lake George Land Conservancy chairman John Macionis raised a cup of champagne in Schumann’s honor, officially declaring the slope and summit the Lynn LaMontagne Schumann Preserve at Pilot Knob Ridge.

“She’s smiling, humbled and grateful,” said Kurt Schumann.

Photo of Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve by Carl Heilman, courtesy of Lake George Land Conservancy

Photo of Lynn Schumann from Lake George Mirror files

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

APA Meeting:
Lake George YMCA, Benson Mines Wind, More

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, August 12 and Friday August 13, 2010 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY.

The Agency will consider a third renewal for the Westport Development Park’s commercial/industrial use permit, a shoreline structure setback variance for Camp Chingachgook on Lake George, a Benson Mines wind project, Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan compliance for the Jessup River Wild Forest UMP, Champlain-Hudson Power Express’s proposed 300-mile, 2,000-MW electric transmission line from Canada to New York City via Lake Champlain and the Hudson River, a memorandum of understanding between the Adirondack Park Agency and the Department of Environmental Conservation concerning State-owned conservation easements on private lands within the Adirondack Park, and the Route 3 Travel Corridor Management Plan. Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website. » Continue Reading.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Garbage Collection on Lake George Islands to End

New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation will stop collecting garbage and recycleables from the state-owned islands on Lake George, a DEC spokesman said.

Starting in 2011, the DEC will maintain a “carry in – carry out” policy, said David Winchell.

“This is the system that is used in the rest of the forest preserve,” he said.

The decision to discontinue garbage collection was made to save money, said Winchell: “Due to funding reductions to the Department of Environmental Conservation from the state’s historic budget shortfall, all DEC programs are seeking ways to reduce operating costs while still providing the basic services.”

According to Winchell, the island campsites are more expensive to operate than other camp grounds, and garbage collection increases those costs.

“The DEC recognizes that this is somewhat of an inconvenience for some campers, however, the costs for operating the campgrounds must be reduced to avoid other steps that campers are less receptive to, such as raising rates or reducing the number of campsites,” said Winchell.

Erich Neuffer, a Bolton Landing deli owner who operates the Glen Island commissary as a concession, said his contract with the state requires the DEC to collect garbage and recyclables from the store.

But his contract expires at the end of 2010 and he said he had no definite plans to renew it.

New York State began collecting garbage from the islands in 1955, a service that provided summer employment to hundreds of local youths.

“People told us we were the hardest working state employees they had ever seen, said Kam Hoopes, who worked on the barges in the 1970s

A petition has been circulated among the island campers calling upon the state to maintain the service

Approximately 700 signatures have been collected at the Glen Island store and sent to DEC, said Marie Marallo of Rutland, Vermont.

“This decision will be devastating to Lake George and the beautiful land and water,” said Marallo.

Marallo said she fears people will ignore the “carry in- carry out” policy and leave their garbage on the islands, or throw it into the lake.

“I was told that people have made the comments that they will just bring burlap bags, put the trash in them, weight them and then throw these into the lake,” said Marallo.

Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky said he would urge the DEC to reconsider adopting the new policy.

“The new policy is not lake-friendly,” he said. “It will lead to a lot of rubbish problems.”

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Want A Free Ski Pass? Dress The Part

Here’s a question: how dedicated of a skier are you?

Dedicated enough, perhaps, to wear ski gear in the middle of summer?

That’s what Whiteface workers are looking for. This Saturday, the “Whiteface Road Warriors” will be hanging around Lake George looking to give away winter 2010/11 day passes. Here’s the catch: to qualify, you’ll have to risk heatstroke, strange stares and perhaps forced psychiatric care by dressing for snow skiing in August.

Don’t worry — you don’t have to wear your insulated one-piece jumpsuit. A ski helmet, goggles, boots or other equipment will be enough, according to an announcement from Whiteface this week.

“If you’re spotted dressed for winter, you’ll automatically win a ticket,” Whiteface officials said.

This Saturday the crew will be lurking around Lake George’s Million Dollar Beach, Main Street and the various campgrounds. Next weekend the crew promises to be at Albany’s Farmer’s Market at Empire State Plaza, Washington Park and the bar Red Square, which is hosting an event called the Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad (don’t ask, but it sounds like the kind of crowd where a guy in ski goggles and boots won’t get looked at twice).

The crew will also be in Saratoga Springs on the weekend of Aug. 20 to 22. Visits are also being planned for New York City and Canada in the fall.

Sounds like a clever promotion for Whiteface and good way for those skiers who don’t embarrass easily to win a free pass. If you want to follow the exploits of the Whiteface Road Warriors, click here.


Friday, July 30, 2010

State Bans Phosphorus Fertilizers

Two years from now, the use of phosphorus-heavy fertilizers will be prohibited not only in the Town and Village of Lake George, but throughout the Adirondack Park and, in fact, the entire state.

Governor David A.Paterson has approved a measure that prohibits homeowners and landscape contractors from applying fertilizer containing phosphorus on any lawns within the state.

The Town and the Village of Lake George adopted regulations limiting the use of fertilizers with phosphorus earlier this summer.

The only exceptions to the state law will be for property owners who are installing a new lawn, or if a soil test shows a phosphorus deficiency. Retailers can still sell phosphorus fertilizer for consumers who fall into those categories, provided signs about the dangers of phosphorus are posted.

The new law, which takes effect January 1, 2012, also prohibits the application of any fertilizer whatsoever within 20 feet of a water body. Fertilizers can be used within ten feet of water if a vegetative buffer has been established along a shore.

“We think this is a great step forward,” said an official with New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Phosphorus has been shown to contribute to the spread of aquatic weeds and the growth of algae, robbing water of oxygen that fish need to survive and limiting the recreational use of lakes and ponds.

“In time, we’ll see a marked difference in plant growth in Lake George once the full effect of the phosphorus ban is achieved,” said Walt Lender, executive director of the Lake George Association.

According to Lender, the bill also bans phosphorus in dishwashing detergent.

“This will keep additional phosphorus out of septic systems and municipal wastewater treatment systems,” Lender said.

“We’re very pleased Governor Paterson signed the bill into law,” said Lender. “It’s a huge step in the right direction, not least because it has generated a lot of discussion about the effects of phosphorus on water quality.”

New York State Senator Betty Little said she voted in favor of the bill after it was amended to allow retailers more time to rid their shelves of phosphorus fertilizers.

She also noted that the New York State Farm Bureau had withdrawn its objections to the bill.

According to Peter Bauer, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George, the ban on phosphorus-based fertilizers should be followed by a ban on the use of all fertilizers.

A fertlizer ban would reduce pollution by another nutrient, nitrogen, which can be just as harmful to water quality, Bauer said.

“Phosphorus free fertilizers are like low tar and nicotine cigarettes – they’re just as dangerous as the originals,” said Bauer. “We don’t need any of these products for healthy lawns.”

Illustration courtesy the Lake Champlain Basin Program’s Lawn to Lake initiative.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


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