Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lake George Lake Steward Program Expanding

The 2011 Lake Steward Program on Lake George, managed by the Lake George Association, will significantly expand over last year’s level thanks to new funding provided by the Lake George Park Commission (LGPC).

Lake stewards, posted at several Lake George boat launches throughout the summer, inspect incoming boats for invasive species, remove suspicious specimens, and educate boaters about the threats of invasive species and how to prevent their spread. The Commission’s marine patrol is contacted whenever stewards encounter a boat being launched that has obvious signs of invasive species and is unwilling to be inspected.
The additional funding provided this year will provide coverage for peak periods and for the launches that receive the highest traffic. In 2010, Lake stewards were posted at four launches around Lake George: Norowal Marina, Mossy Point, Hague Town Beach and Rogers Rock. In 2011, two additional launches will be added. Days and hours of coverage will also increase; the goal is to provide seven-day-a-week coverage during the busiest times of the season. Twelve-hour-a-day coverage is the goal for Mossy Point and Norowal, while other sites will receive eight hours per day. Mossy Point and Norowal were chosen for increased coverage due to the high volume of their traffic.

In addition to inspection, lake stewards will collect data about lake users and invasive species spread: the species found, number of boats launched, the type of boat, number of people in the boat, the last body of water the boat was in, and the presence of a LGPC decal. This information sheds light on the pathways of invasive species, and helps to identify target areas for early detection and control. A report for the public is prepared at the end of the season.

The program is closely coordinated with similar programs. Lake George, Lake Champlain, and the Adirondack Watershed Institute collaborate on training, printed materials, and data collection as members of a regional partnership, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP).

While Lake Stewards primarily cover boat launch sites, they also assist at special events such as the Adirondack Park Invasive Species Awareness Week, and inventory terrestrial invasive species on state-owned islands.

In 2010, Lake Stewards inspected a total of 2,538 boats, and educated boaters about the threats of Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels, curly-leaf pondweed, and the Lake’s most recent invader, the Asian clam. Thirty-six samples of Eurasian watermilfoil were removed during the season. Nine samples of curly-leaf pondweed were found, three samples of zebra mussels, and five of water chestnut, an invasive that is not currently found in Lake George.

The estimated program costs for 2011 are $67,000. $25,000 will be funded through the Lake Champlain Basin program, $35,000 will be provided by the Lake George Park Commission, and the LGA will provide the remaining funds from its Helen V. Froehlich Foundation grant awards.

Photo: 2010 Lake George Lake Steward Lee Peters talks with a boater. Courtesy LGA.

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