Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lake George Invasive Species Program Report Released

The Lake George Association has released a report detailing findings from the 2011 Lake Steward program on Lake George. The program seeks to protect the Lake from the introduction and spread of invasive species that could negatively alter the Lake’s ecosystem, shoreline property values, and the region’s tourism-driven economy.

In 2011, Lake Stewards were posted at six launches around Lake George: Norowal Marina, Mossy Point, Hague Town Beach, Rogers Rock, Dunham’s Bay, and Million Dollar Beach; they interacted with about 8,600 boats.
Since 2006, lake stewards have inspected boats at high traffic launches around the Lake and have educated boaters about invasive species spread prevention. The LGA’s 2011 report summarizes the data collected last year, and includes the number of boats inspected, the total number of animal and plant specimens removed, the identity and quantity of invasive species found, and the last waterbody each boat visited prior to entering Lake George. Over the years the program has adapted; data and specimens are collected from boats both launching into and leaving the Lake. The data gathered helps define how invasive species are spread, and the pathways that exist between other regional waterways and Lake George.

Among the most important findings included in the report are the follow:

· Within two weeks of their launch in Lake George, boaters had visited 193 unique waterbodies located in 15 different states.

· Other than Lake George itself, the next most frequently visited waterbody was the Hudson River, a waterbody with 91 different invasive species; 100 boats inspected had been in the Hudson within two weeks prior to launch in Lake George.

· Lake stewards collected 171 aquatic organism samples from 125 boats and trailers, and identified 87 samples to be invasive species.

· Four different species were found: Eurasian watermilfoil, curly-leaf pondweed, water chestnut and zebra mussels.

· 75% of boaters reported taking spread prevention methods before launching in the Lake.

In 2011 Warren County passed a law making the introduction and transport of aquatic invasive species into Warren County waterbodies illegal. It is the first county law of its kind to pass in New York State and imposes a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 15 days in jail for violators. Advocates are seeking a similar statewide law.

The 2011 Lake Steward Program was funded by the Lake George Park Commission ($35,000) and the Lake Champlain Basin Program ($25,000), with additional funding coming from the LGA’s Helen V. Froehlich Foundation grant awards. The full report can be found online.

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