Every summer, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute and the Historical Society of Bolton co-host a series of free presentations on the natural and cultural history of Lake George and the Adirondacks.
This year’s series is especially diverse and its presenters are widely recognized for their expertise, said David G. Diehl, the Fresh Water Institute’s site manager and the organizer of the series. » Continue Reading.
Zebra Mussels and Asian clams receive so much attention that little is left for Lake George’s native mussels, which are as beneficial to the lake as the invasives are destructive.
Increasing awareness of the natives’ value and the potential threats to their survival is a mission of Dr. Dan Marelli, a Florida biologist whose expertise has made him a valued collaborator of the Darrin Fresh Water Institute whenever mollusks enter the picture.
In August 2010, for example, the first Asian clams discovered in the lake were immediately sent to him. He confirmed their identity, and the multi-million dollar effort to eradicate the invasive, or at least to contain its spread, began. When Zebra mussels were discovered in 1999, Marelli was among those who participated in a successful hand-harvesting eradication effort. » Continue Reading.
A major new report – The State of the Lake: Thirty Years of Water Quality Monitoring on Lake George – has been released by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Darrin Fresh Water Institute (DFWI) and The FUND for Lake George.
The 72-page report is the result of 30 years of continuous monitoring that found Lake George to be in “remarkably good condition.” However, the report also outlines specific ecological factors that now threaten water quality. Over the 30-year period of the study, researchers found that “while some of the threats to Lake George water quality have receded since 1980, others are worsening.”
The report finds that some of the greatest threats to Lake George water quality include: rising concentrations of salt from continued applications to control winter road ice; the high sensitivity of the lake’s ecological health to even modest increases of nutrient loading (from storm water runoff, septic and sewage systems, fertilizers, and more); and changes in the lake’s food web and fish community in response to invasive species and other influences. » Continue Reading.
Construction of a new laboratory at RPI’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute will begin this summer and will be completed before autumn, said RPI president Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson.
According to Jackson, RPI will finance the construction of the new lab as part of its contribution to the Jefferson Project, the program created by IBM, The Fund for Lake George and RPI to bring high technology to the study and preservation of Lake George’s water quality. » Continue Reading.
The Jefferson Project at Lake George, a multi-million dollar collaboration between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, IBM, and The FUND for Lake George, is expected to better our understanding of, and help provide solutions to, the threats to Lake George water quality.
Priority concerns include road salt, storm water runoff, and invasive species. This three year study, already underway, will build a model for balancing economic growth and environmental protection. » Continue Reading.
Eurasian Watermilfoil Management Summit: Lessons Learned from the Adirondack Region will be a free event hosted at the Horicon Town Hall in Brant Lake from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, August 16th.
The program will feature presentations on the status of the Eurasian watermilfoil invasion and its management in the Adirondack region, control options, planning considerations, case studies from various lakes, permitting, financing, lake-friendly land-use recommendations and spread prevention. Speakers will include state agency staff, elected officials, not-for-profit representatives, shoreowners and lake managers. » Continue Reading.
Participants in the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program’s 10th annual aquatic invasive plant training program will learn aquatic plant identification tips and survey techniques for both native and aquatic invasive plants.
The training is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP by June 17 to [email protected] and provide your name, contact info, training location and lake of interest.
Sessions are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
June 28, Darrin Fresh Water Institute, Bolton Landing or June 30, Wanakena Ranger School on Cranberry Lake » Continue Reading.
The Darrin Fresh Water Institute’s (DFWI) annual program of testing waters near municipal beaches and town shorelines for coliform contamination will be less extensive this summer than in years past, according to Larry Eichler, a DFWI Research Scientist.
According to Eichler, The Fund for Lake George has withdrawn its financial support for the program.
While some municipalities may assume the costs of sampling waters near beaches, no organization has stepped forward to fund the monitoring of shorelines, Eichler said. “The FUND for Lake George has contributed more than $300,000 in cost sharing for this program over the past 25 years,” said Eichler. “But while still supporting the efforts of this program, The Fund is unable to fund this program due to other committments.”
Those other commitments, explained Peter Bauer, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George, include exterminating invasive species like the Asian clam and financing the West Brook Conservation Initiative, which will protect the lake’s south basin from urban runoff.
“Unfortunately, we are unable to continue funding the program,” said Bauer. “While it’s time for The Fund to transition out of the program, the importance of monitoring public beaches should motivate local governments to adopt at least that part of the program.”
Bolton, Lake George Village, the Town of Lake George and Hague have agreed to consider adopting monitoring programs, said Eichler.
“Evaluation of bathing beach water quality provides a reminder that water quality is not guaranteed and that proper maintenance and surveillance of swimming areas remain critical,” said Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, the executive director of the Darrin Fresh Water Institute.
According Larry Eichler, DFWI can test sampled waters for Total Coliform (TC), Fecal Coliform (FC), and Fecal Streptococcus (FS) for as little as $30 per week. The Towns would be responsible for the costs of collecting the water samples.
New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation has tested the waters near state-owned beaches since the late 1980s, after the Million Dollar Beach was closed for three days in 1988 because of an excessive fecal coliform count.
The Darrin Fresh Water Institute has tested waters near municpal beaches every summer since 2002.
“The program was a low cost mechanism to provide assurances that the public beaches on Lake George posed no threats to the public,” said Larry Eichler.
“We continue to believe that this program provides a valuable service to the Lake George community through assurance of water quality at our public bathing beaches.”
Even before it began testing municipal beaches for coliform contamination, DWFI was sampling sites around Lake George for coliform bacteria, which are generally viewed as indicators of sewage leaks or other sources for nutrients, such as storm water.
“The Lake George Coliform Monitoring Program was designed to be a proactive water quality program,” said Eichler. “Prompt identification and remediation of wastewaters entering Lake George is one of the most efficient ways to protect water quality.”
Waters were evaluated at sites with chronically high levels of coliform bacteria or in areas where algae appeared, Eichler explained.
“We’re disappointed that The Fund could not continue to support the program, but we understand fiscal realities,” said Eichler.
Eichler said grants may permit the Darrin Fresh Water Institute to re-establish the colliform monitoring program in the future.
Photo: Darrin Fresh Water Institute
For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror or visit Lake George Mirror Magazine.
Lake George and Lake Tahoe have more in common with one another than expensive second homes and classic wooden boats.
“Both are known for gorgeous scenery, excellent water quality and high biodiversity. Both are very important economically as well as ecologically,” said Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, the director of RPI’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute. » Continue Reading.
The colony of Asian clams discovered in Lake George last week appears to be confined to an area between English Brook and Pine Point in the Village of Lake George.
“As far as we can tell, the population is contained within a relatively small area,” said Peter Bauer, executive director of The Fund for Lake George. “More research will follow this week and next to verify this. We’ll also survey other areas that appear to be suitable habitat for the species. But if we’re lucky and maybe this is an isolated infestation that we caught early, then eradication of this invasive species is a strong possibility.” » Continue Reading.
In December 1999, researchers discovered that Lake George was not immune to Zebra mussels after all.
During an annual dive to retrieve litter from the lake bottom in Lake George Village, volunteers discovered what appeared to them to be the exotic mollusk that had already wreaked havoc in Lake Champlain and in nearby rivers, competing with native animal species for food and clogging water systems.
Diver Joe Zarzynski contacted the Darrin Fresh Water Institute, whose scientists confirmed that the brown and cream striped shell attached to a beer bottle was indeed a Zebra mussel. » Continue Reading.
RPI’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute has a global reputation for pathbreaking research on zebra mussels, acid rain, milfoil and water quality.
Now its researchers are teaching environmental science to RPI undergraduates who are living and working at the Bolton Landing facility.
It’s the first time since RPI opened the field station on Lake George in the 1980s that the university has offered a full semester of course work to undergraduates at the site. According to Chuck Boylen, the Darrin Fresh Water Institute’s associate director, the Institute’s mission has always included education, but a lack of dormitory space made it impossible to accommodate undergraduate programs.
That defect was remedied in 2003, when RPI converted a 19th century summer cottage on the property into a year-round education and research facility, with a state-of-the art computing center, space for lectures and films and rooms for visiting scholars and students.
While some of the undergraduates participating in the semester on Lake George are commuting to Bolton Landing from RPI’s Troy campus, others are now occupying those rooms.
“We’ve expanded the RPI campus to include Bolton Landing,” said Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, the institute’s executive director.
The rooms’ rustic décor is certainly a departure from that of the usual dorm rooms, said Nicole Nolan. “Mine is moose-themed,” she said.
As on any campus, the students spend a significant amount of time in the laboratories and classrooms. But they also spend equal amounts of time on Lake George.
That’s one of the aspects of the program that attracted Kelsey Cote. “I had intended to be a cell biologist, but I realized that spending my life in a lab was not something I wanted to do,” she said.
“The students do field work, work with graduate students on individual research projects , do lab work with sophisticated technology and get exposed to environmental conservation organizations and agencies,” said Nierzwicki-Bauer. “That’s what we offer. It’s a great opportunity for the kids.”
The program’s blend of theory and practice makes it an especially strong one, said Chuck Boylen.
This year’s semester is essentially a pilot project for what Boylen and Nierzwicki-Bauer hopes will become a multi-disciplinary program serving large numbers of students every year.
To read more news from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror
The FUND for Lake George has begun its annual water quality monitoring program on Lake George. One of the most successful long-term monitoring studies in the country, the comprehensive water quality monitoring program includes a variety of leading parameters to evaluate and track the water quality of Lake George. 2009 marks the 30th straight year that the FUND for Lake George and the Darrin Fresh Water Institute have partnered to study the water quality of Lake George. The long-term database created by the study has charted the ecological health of Lake George for three decades. The scientific studies have focused attention on critical public issues facing the lake, including chronic septic system or municipal treatment failures, increasing salt levels, the growth of an annual dead zone in the south basin, and impacts from inadequate stormwater management and poor land use practices. The FUND and DFWI have committed to publishing a report on the state of Lake George based upon the past 30 years of lake study.
“The monitoring on Lake George is our most significant research program. Long-term datasets are extremely valuable to fully grasp how we are subtly and significantly altering our environment. Without this kind of information we are subject supposition, accusation and hearsay as to why water quality is changing, which greatly limits communities acting deliberately to protect water quality” said Dr. Charles Boylen, Associate Director of the RPI Darrin Fresh Water Institute. “This partnership is unique in the U.S. where we have a private group that has raised the awareness about the importance of water quality monitoring as well as provided the financial support for a scientific institute to perform sampling, monitoring, analysis and interpretation.”
The monitoring program covers 12 locations, four littoral zone areas (shallow) and eight deep water locations, from south to north on Lake George, from the Lake George Village to Heart Bay. This study includes the five major sub-basins of Lake George. Specific locations include Tea Island, Warner Bay, Basin Bay, Dome Island, Northwest Bay, French Point, Huletts Landing, Sabbath Day Point, Smith Bay, and Rogers Rock. The analytes sampled include: pH, Specific Conductance, Total Nitrogen, Total Phosphorus, Total Soluble Phosphorus, Soluble Reactive Phosphorus, Nitrate, Ammonia, Silica, Sodium, Calcium, Chloride, Sulfate, Dissolved Oxygen, Chlorophyll-a, Magnesium, Alkalinity, and Transparency, among others.
Over the past 30 years, the FUND for Lake George has raised over $1.5 million to support this long-term monitoring program and other associated research efforts with the DFWI. Support for lake science in 2009 is $98,000.
Additionally in 2009, the FUND and DFWI will monitor coliform levels at public beaches around Lake George, maintain an atmospheric research facility at the south end of Lake George in partnership with the Department of Environmental Conservation and Lake George Park Commission, and study stormwater impacts on West Brook.
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