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.
The plan’s “Preferred Alternative” is a mandatory inspection program for all trailered boats entering Lake George, and decontamination (hot water power washing) of boats that don’t pass inspection. To implement such a program, the Commission would need regulatory action and funding, which commissioners said would likely include an increase to the LGPC Boat Registration fees. The Draft Plan is available at the LGPC website,
Earlier this year, LGPC and the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced actions they will take this summer to prevent the spread and threat of invasive species.
1. Expand the Lake George Association’s boat steward program from May to September. To provide additional protection during months when boat traffic is relatively high but stewards are not currently funded. (The season previously ran from June to August.)
2. Develop and implement a more comprehensive outreach program to local and regional boaters who boat on Lake George on how they
can reduce the risk of spreading and introducing invasive species.
3. Increase patrols by DEC Environmental Conservation Officers and LGPC officers trained in aquatic invasive species spread prevention. These officers are expected to work the launches on a regular basis.
4. Additional voluntary boat wash stations will be sited at boat launches around Lake George. This will provide boaters easy opportunity to remove aquatic invasive species from their boats and trailers before and after boating on the lake. In addition, the state Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) provided $50,000 to fund this year’s lengthened boat steward program and additional outreach efforts. The LGPC also received $200,000 from the EPF to help contain and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species including Asian clams. Earlier this year the state provided LGPC with $100,000 from the Aid to Localities fund and $100,000 from the EPF to help combat invasive species .
“Yesterday’s development is a milestone moment in the history of Lake George,” and e-mail sent today by the Lake George Association said. “It will follow in the history books along with the formation of the Lake George Park and the establishment of the Lake George Park Commission itself. If the process stays on track, we will have the program we need to protect Lake George from new invasive species. Of course we will need to continue to fight on the home front to combat the invasive species we already have, but managing what we know will be better than coming under attack by something new.”
The public comment period ends June 25, 2013. The Commission has been discussing the possibility of holding public hearings at each end of the lake.