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.
While the current regulations stating that no person shall launch or retrieve a boat without first inspecting it for invasives are a deterrent, they do not make it illegal to carry invasives in a boat or trailer, said White.
The Commission’s resolution reads, in part: “Whereas, in order to expect the willing participation of our citizens in routine undertaking spread prevention measures when moving equipment between waterways there needs to be some consequence for those individuals that through their negligence or willfulness transport plants and animals on their equipment; Now Therefore Be It Resolved that the Lake George Park Commission urges the New York State Invasive Species Council to promptly complete its work on a spread prevention transport law and that such a law be promptly put in place in New York.”
The Commission approved the resolution at its December meeting.
New York’s marine trades associations will, however, oppose the legislation.
“We think it could penalize people unfairly,” said Roger Phinney, the executive director of the Eastern New York Marine Trades Association, “Someone could be trailering a boat down a highway and be pulled over because some grass was visible. We don’t think this is an effective way of accomplishing the goal.”
Rather than supporting the Invasive Species Council’s bill, the Empire State Marine Trades Association, the coalition of boat dealers’ groups from across the state, has proposed legislation of its own.
That bill would bill would establish steward programs, similar to the program operated on Lake George by the Lake George Association, on waterbodies throughout New York.
Boaters would not, however, be required to allow their boats to be inspected and could not be prevented from launching their boats even if stewards discovered that boats were transporting invasives.
“This voluntary program is designed to address the threats to recreational boating and fishing from invasive species,” the organization stated.
The programs would be funded by revenues from vessel registration surcharges and a sticker program for non-motorized vessels.
While the Lake George Association’s stward program may be a model for waterbodies across the state, the LGA still supports a state-wide law banning the transportation of invasive species, said Walt Lender, the LGA’s executive director.
“Steward programs are valuable; they give us an opportunity to talk to folks. But they’re difficult to staff at the levels necessary to be completely effective. We’d like to see regulations prohibiting the transportation of invasive species, and we’d like to see them imposed state-wide.”
The region’s state senator, Betty Little, is still reviewing the Invasive Species Council’s bill, said her spokesman, Dan Macentee.
“The Senator certainly has an interest in seeing something done; we’ve seen the terrible impacts of invasive species and that’s why the Senator has secured funding to control them,” said Macentee.
But, he added, Senator Little would prefer a bill that was acceptable to everyone – including boat dealers.
Photo: Lake George Association Lake Steward Monika LaPlante inspects a boat in 2010 at the Norowal Marina in Bolton Landing. In 2009, lake stewards inspected close to 4,000 boats entering or leaving Lake George from May through August. Despite a scaled-back program in 2010, stewards inspected 2,538 boats and removed 56 invasive specimens according to LGA. Courtesy LGA.
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