This summer marked the sixth that the Lake George Association (LGA) has coordinated a Lake Steward Program on Lake George to combat invasive species. 2013 saw the most extensive boat launch coverage since the program began, due to increased funding.
Since 2008, the LGA’s lake stewards have inspected over 32,000 boats at high traffic launches around the Lake, removed 490 aquatic invasive species (AIS) samples from boats, and spoke with more than 75,000 boaters about invasive species spread prevention.
The data gathered by the program that helps explain how invasive species are spread from other regional waterways and Lake George, has been used in recent efforts to institute a new mandatory boat inspection program.
In 2013, Lake Stewards were posted at six launches around Lake George: Dunham’s Bay, Hague Town Launch, Mossy Point, Norowal Marina, Million Dollar Beach and Rogers Rock. Over the 2013 season:
The Lake George lake stewards inspected 7,087 boats and interacted with 17,288 boaters;
The total number of waterbodies visited within two weeks of overland transport to Lake George was 163 unique waterbodies;
Other than Lake George itself, the next most frequently visited waterbodies in 2013 were the Hudson River, closely followed by Lake Champlain. Both of these nearby waterbodies are known to have many nonnative and invasive species;
Lake stewards collected 213 aquatic organism samples from 153 boats and trailers, and identified 83 samples to be an invasive species.
Five different invasive species were identified: Eurasian watermilfoil, curly-leaf pondweed, water chestnut, zebra mussels, and quagga mussels. Eurasian watermilfoil, curly-leaf pondweed, and zebra mussels are known to already be in Lake George, however water chestnut and quagga mussels are not.
While 86 percent of boaters reported having previous interaction with a lake steward, only 47 percent of boaters reported taking at least one spread prevention measure. Spread prevention measures include but are not limited to washing the boat, draining the bilge, and inspecting the boat for plants and animals.
With funding provided by the Lake George Park Commission (LGPC) through the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) the Lake Steward Program was expanded in 2013 beyond previous year’s efforts. The program started earlier and went later than in years past, and stewards covered more hours at launches during the core summer months. The program typically runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, however this year Lake Stewards were on duty as early as May 3 and as late as October 13, Columbus Day Weekend.
A complete report of all the 2013 data is being compiled and is expected to be available by the end of the year. All past reports are available on the LGA website.