The Lake George Park Commission will hold a public hearing on its mandatory boat inspection program on March 30 in Bolton Landing.
The hearing, which will be held in the Town hall from 4 to 6 pm, is a necessary step in the process of making a two-year, pilot invasive species protection program a permanent one.
That program required all boats trailered to Lake George to be inspected for invasive plants and animals before being allowed to launch.
If inspectors are to resume examining boats this spring, as planned, New York State officials had to agree to move the process forward before mid-January. They did so with only a few hours to spare, said Dave Wick, the Lake George Park Commission’s executive director.
“They were concerned that there was a lack of permanent funding. I reminded them that every state program is funded on an annual basis. Moreover, we have a three-year commitment from Lake George Village and the other municipalities to share the costs of the program with the state,” said Wick.
This year’s program is expected to cost $532,000, he said. As much as $350,000 will come from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund. Warren County, its Lake George shore communities and not-for-profit organizations such as the Lake George Association and The Fund for Lake George will pay the difference.
The largest single expense is personnel, which this year will cost $489,600. Inspectors will be stationed at seven boat launches, from Dunham’s Bay and Million Dollar Beach in the south basin to Mossy Point in Ticonderoga. As with a two year pilot program, boaters will not be charged for the costs of the inspection and decontamination.
During the first two years of the program, inspectors were on duty from mid-April to December 1. Starting this year, they will work from May to the end of October. The Commission said they found too few boats are brought to the lake in the off-season to justify the expense; moreover, plants and animals are effectively dormant at those times of the year.
On the whole, though, the permanent program’s regulations are substantially the same as the pilot program’s, said Wick.
The program has, however, been expanded to include The Town of Bolton’s Trout Lake. Any boat trailered to Trout Lake will have to show that it has been inspected for invasive species at one of the Lake George stations before launching, Wick explained. “Since Trout Lake drains into Lae George, this will give us an additional level of protection from aquatic invasive species,” he said.
Owners of private resorts and members of homeowners’ associations will be asked to sign a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing not to allow any boat lacking proof of inspection to be launched from their sites, Wick said.
According to Wick, 70 to 90% of the boats on Trout Lake are permanently berthed there, and they will be exempt from inspection requirements.
Only a few other changes to the program are expected to be made as a result of the public hearings, said Wick. “One of the nice things about a pilot program is that you have a chance to work out kinks,” said Wick.
Boaters arriving at the launches will, however, be given more information about the lake’s sanitary regulations and be reminded that boats with unsealed heads, or which are in violation of other regulations, are not allowed on Lake George. Boaters will also be given the opportunity to purchase Lake George Boater Registration stickers at inspection stations. Those sales could generate thousands of dollars in additional revenues for the Lake George Park Commission, said Wick.
Photos above by Anthony Hall; boat cleaning photo by Veronica Spann.
A version of this post was first published on Lake George Mirror Magazine.