Wednesday, November 30, 2022

A rowdy boating season

lake george boating season

It was a busy season for law enforcement and first responders on Lake George – even as signs from boat launch stewards indicated a slight decline in boats entering the water.

The Lake George Park Commission marine patrol issued 187 tickets in 2022, up from 128 in 2021, including five boating while intoxicated tickets, two more than last year. The patrol team responded to 733 complaints, up from 635 in 2021, and issued 1,101 warnings, up from 1,009 the previous year.

The crews also responded to a wide array of incidents, including domestic disturbance calls at island campgrounds, numerous accidents of people jumping from rocks, an out-of-control mushrooms trip, reckless drone use, multiple drownings and a gun-toting man who lit a dock on fire with fireworks.

“There’s a guy with a fire extinguisher and beer can trying to put it out,” Lt. Joe Johns, who leads the patrol crews, said during a presentation at Tuesday’s commission meeting.

They even helped William Shatner (famous for Priceline commercials and something else), whose boat got stuck on the lake this summer.

Johns said patrol crews are encountering new behaviors and emergencies on the lake and that next year patrols may train to respond to other drug overdoses. “We are seeing more and more things on the islands,” Johns said.

The increased policing activity came during a boating season where early reports suggest traffic was down. Some people have theorized that high gas prices lessened boat use across the Adirondacks. Park commission boat stewards saw some slight decreases in launch activity,  according to a preliminary report to the commissioners.

Like the Adirondack Watershed Institute’s stewards program, the park commission struggled to fill all of the positions, leaving some launches understaffed. Justin Luyk, who manages the commission’s stewards, said they started the season with three people hired at the Million Dollar Beach launch. “That’s probably a quarter of what we need,” he told the commission.

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.

11 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    Only 5 BWIs and 1100 “warnings”? I wonder how many “warnings” had their root in excessive alcohol.

    • Mike says:

      In Lake George, most likely other drugs.

    • M.P. Heller says:

      I have always found it interesting that the LGPC patrols are only ever able to issue a very small amount of BWI infractions every year. 5 is actually a pretty big number for them as it is usually more like 2 or 3. I suspect that the reason is similar to why it has taken so long to get septic regulations in place. Nobody wants to spoil a good time for all. It’s basically a zombie agency.

      LGPC has to be one of the most useless and redundant state agencies in existence. Leave it to DEC and local and state police to enforce the law and the APA and local towns to enforce zoning. It’s well past time to “decommission” the LGPC.

    • Bill Ott says:

      I have returned to this article because of your comment. What bothers me is that there will eventually be an alcohol related boating fatality involving somebody who got off with a warning. Many drinking boaters would not be deterred by the threat of a warning. Just a thought way over my pay grade.

      • Boreas says:

        I don’t recall the details of the cruise boat fatalities, skiing, canoe and other recent fatalities, but repeats are certainly more likely with intoxication. But will a simple fine be any more of a deterrent than a warning? Not likely – doesn’t work with automobiles. Impoundment of the craft on first offense and/or imprisonment on a second may carry more weight.

        I certainly don’t have the answers, but boating while intoxicated is no less dangerous or lethal than driving while intoxicated. Do we give out simple warnings for flying or performing surgery while intoxicated?

  2. Jim S. says:

    Those boaters are quite “nauti”

  3. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “patrol crews are encountering new behaviors and emergencies on the lake and that next year patrols may train to respond to other drug overdoses. “We are seeing more and more things on the islands,”


    “I wonder how many “warnings” had their root in excessive alcohol.”

    > The first thing which always comes to mind Boreas in instances as noted above. Alcohol makes supermen out of humans, and worse. Is why they formed temperance groups 200 years ago (then came AA.) They knew the evils which sprouted from such. To think though, if there was no beer! It doesn’t make all of us stupid.

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