The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) is inviting volunteers to join its Lake Protectors program and is kicking off summer with its first (of three) Lake Protectors training sessions from 9-11:30 a.m. on June 28.
“Being a Lake Protector is fun, easy and a great way to help Adirondack lakes,” said Brian Greene, APIPP’s Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator.
Since the program’s inception in 2002, hundreds of volunteer Lake Protectors have surveyed more than 460 lakes in the Adirondacks, of which more than 75-percent do not have invasive species present.
Participation in the program is simple. After taking a training course, every volunteer is encouraged to adopt a waterbody of their choice and commit to surveying that pond or lake at least once during the summer. Many Lake Protectors, like Saranac Lake author Caperton Tissot, view the program as a way to spend time on a favorite waterbody while also helping to protect it from the threat of invasive species. Tissot has been a volunteer Lake Protector since 2009. In an interview last summer, she said her favorite place to survey is Barnum Pond in Paul Smiths because there are no buildings nearby, she rarely sees another boat and the shoreline varies from rocky outcrops to forests and bogs.
“My favorite encounter there was with a beaver who saw me in my canoe, dove down to come up right next to the boat, then deliberately slapped his tail aiming the splash and soaking me thoroughly. Great fun,” Tissot said in the interview.
Greene said Lake Protectors often share stories like Tissot’s with him, and he added that those experiences have a lot to do with why many volunteers stick with the program summer after summer.
And while it’s fun to get splashed by a beaver, Greene said the program has an undeniably practical side: it is invaluable to efforts aimed at monitoring and controlling the spread of aquatic invasive species. Scientists can only cover so much ground in a summer and the volunteer surveys greatly expand their knowledge of what is happening in Adirondack waterways.
“We have over 3,000 lakes and ponds in the Adirondacks that are spread across 6 million acres,” Greene said. “Essentially, we are trying to create a culture where everybody is working to protect those natural resources. People who volunteer to be Lake Protectors are giving back to their lakes in a truly impactful way.”
The virtual training on June 28 will be led by Greene. It is the first of three similar events happening this summer. Greene will host subsequent in-person training sessions with the Ausable River Association at Lake Everest in Wilmington from 9 a.m.-noon on July 9, and with the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District at the pavilion in Sacandaga Park and River Walk in Speculator from 1-4 p.m. on August 6.
The training sessions are free, but registration is required to participate.
Greene said each training session will cover invasive species identification and proper survey methods, and he recommended that returning Lake Protectors take a course to keep their knowledge up to date.
To register for a Lake Protectors training session, visit www.adkinvasives.com/events.
For more information on the Lake Protectors program, visit www.adkinvasives.com/Get-Involved/Volunteer/Lake-Protector-Corps
APIPP’s mission is to protect the Adirondack region from the negative impacts of invasive species. Learn more at www.adkinvasives.com
The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) serves as the Adirondack Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM), one of eight partnerships across New York. APIPP is hosted by The Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and receives financial support from the Environmental Protection Fund administered by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Photo at top: Milfoil. (APIPP website photo.)