Saturday, July 9, 2022

A Lake Placid plan

lake placid

proposed Lake Placid management plan focuses on studying boat traffic, mitigating the potential harm of outdated septic systems and preventing the introduction or expansion of invasive species.

The Adirondack Watershed Institute and the Ausable River Association on Tuesday released a draft management plan for the largest lake in Essex County and one of the most iconic lakes in the Adirondacks. The plan was commissioned by the Shore Owners’ Association of Lake Placid. They are seeking public comments through July 19.

The 64-page proposal is divided into sections on five overarching goals: monitor and maintain water quality; manage current infestation of variable-leaf milfoil and prevent future invasive species introductions; manage recreational use on the lake; minimize the negative impact of development; coordinate management activities among stakeholders.

The plan calls for the creation of a professional lake manager position for Lake Placid as well as creating a “carrying capacity model for the lake.” Other recommendations include: ramping up data collection, creating a harmful algal bloom response plan, studying the lake’s biological diversity, providing seven-day boat steward coverage during the summer, strengthening septic rules and monitoring, and much more.

The plan offers a good overview of the latest on Lake Placid water quality data and emerging threats to the lake. Interestingly, due to the limited road infrastructure in the lake’s watershed, it faces a small risk of impact from road salt pollution. Meanwhile, nearby Lake Mirror is among the lakes most impacted by road salt in the region.

Current data also highlights a strange trend in the lake’s pH: After experiencing gradually increasing pH levels since the 1970s, part of a larger recovery from acid rain across the Adirondacks, the lake has seen a significant decline in pH levels since 2009 (moving back toward the acidic). The recent decline in the lake’s pH levels “warrants further investigation,” according to the plan, which did not theorize as to the cause of the new trend.

The plan calls for an assessment of the lake’s carrying capacity, noting long-term data indicates a “significant increase in boaters visiting the lake” and that in a survey stakeholders raised concerns about boater safety, crowding and shoreline erosion caused by boat activity. Using data from the AWI stewardship program, the plan estimates a 214% increase in boater traffic on Lake Placid between 2015 and 2020. Determining carrying capacity is no small feat, the plan notes.

View of Lake Placid from Whiteface Mountain. Photo by Zachary Matson

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

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