Local governments, lake and landowners associations, sportsmen and environmental protection organizations want to see Lake George’s program of mandatory inspections of trailered boats adopted throughout the Adirondack Park.
According to Fred Monroe, a Warren County Supervisor, and Eric Siy, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George, who convened a meeting of Adirondack Park stakeholders in Chestertown earlier this month, prevention is the only way to protect Adirondack lakes from invasive species and preserve an economy based on recreation.
“What were once the mainstays of the Adirondack economy, such as forestry and mining, are either gone or disappearing,” said Monroe. “What’s left is tourism, which is so clearly tied to the health of the waters. If we lose the waters, we have nothing.” » 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.
Lake George residents and visitors are invited to take Lake protection into their own hands by participating in the yearly lake-wide clean-up day, Keep the Queen Clean, on Saturday, August 2nd. This event is the largest organized clean-up day on Lake George. Volunteers are encouraged to create teams of friends, family or co-workers and collect trash and other foreign debris throughout the Lake George basin.
Participants are invited to pick up litter along the shoreline and streams or scuba dive and snorkel to collect debris in deeper water. Blue trash bags are available at The FUND’s Lake George office and local town halls. As in previous years, Towns around the Lake have designated locations where participants may drop-off litter at no charge. » Continue Reading.
Since the 1970s, scientists and officials have been aware that the Lake George Waste Water Treatment plant has been discharging unacceptably high levels of nitrates through ground water, into West Brook and ultimately, into Lake George.
“Nitrates are probably the single, biggest influence on the water quality in the West Brook watershed, and the treatment plant is the single largest source of nitrates,” says Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky.
According to Navitsky, excessive levels of nitrate stimulate the growth of weeds and algae and can endanger fish life, the quality of drinking water, recreation and even human health. “Fortunately, we haven’t reached that level yet,” he said, adding that after Lake George Village completes the second phase of improvements to its waste water treatment plant, which it has committed itself to undertaking after being cited by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, we won’t. » Continue Reading.
Vendors, exhibits, speakers and other activities to inspire attractive low impact shoreline landscaping will be featured at the “Stewardship with Style: A Lakescape Event” on Saturday May 10, 2014, from 9 am until 2 pm at Shepard Park in Lake George Village. Displays on rain gardens, shoreline buffers, permeable pavers, invasive species, and native plants, along with kids “make and take” crafts, and the Em2 River Model. There will also be prizes and giveaways. » 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.
The protection of water quality is of singular great importance for the Adirondack Park and Adirondack communities. In the coming decades, if we are able to maintain stable water quality trends, this will help Adirondack communities enormously, not only for protecting the area’s high quality of life, but economically too. Clean water will be our edge.
Clean water is going to be a commodity that becomes less plentiful in the future. Communities that provide good stewardship for their waters will be communities that have something special to offer in the coming years. » Continue Reading.
PROTECT the Adirondacks! has announced that its Board of Directors has hired Peter Bauer as its new Executive Director. Bauer brings to PROTECT more than 20 years of experience in Adirondack Park policy, grassroots organizing, environmental advocacy, and not-for-profit management.
Bauer will begin working for PROTECT after Labor Day, according to a statement released to the pres this morning, and is expected to will continue to serve until the end of July in his current position as Executive Director for the FUND for Lake George, a position he has held since 2007. Bauer had previously served for thirteen years as Executive Director of the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA), which merged with the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks in 2010 to form PROTECT. » Continue Reading.
By Diane Chase Camels, lemars and bears, oh my! Nestled in the foothills of the Adirondacks, Adirondack Animal Land is located near Sacandaga Lake in Fulton County about 10 miles north of Amsterdam on Route 30. Though the physical entrance is listed as Gloversville, the 80-acre zoo stretches across the Blue Line. Over 500 animals wander around, some freely, some not. The mix is from the common mallard to the more exotic lemur with Highlander cattle, Dromedary camel and Adax antelope rounding a list of animals that we are curious to see.
It is hard to know where to begin when we enter Adirondack Animal Land but I trust my children are going to make sure we see “everything there is to see.” Things to know: The 45-acre safari ride is included in your admission but hold onto your admission tickets because you can only go the one time for free. Only cash is accepted so bring your ATM card (there is a machine onsite). Signs everywhere indicate that all the admission proceeds benefit the care and feeding of the animals, veterinary care, educational programs, special breeding programs and upkeep of this privately owned zoo.
While on the safari ride we are followed uncomfortably close by a camel. The large animal is chewing and looking ready to projectile spit. I move from the back sacrificing the children to any flying saliva.
There are many other animals mixing and mingling but the charmers of the group are the baby potbelly pigs. We learn that all zebras have different markings and see ostrich, buffalo and about 90 other animals I can’t begin to remember.
There are plenty of opportunities to feed the animals but do not bring your own food. There are rules and regulations regarding public feeding of animals to ensure that the zoo animals maintain an appropriate diet and nutritional needs.
There are other opportunities like gemstone mining or pony rides but we pass by to enter the 1800s western-style town. My children wander through each building while my husband and I rest at one of the picnic tables. Bringing a lunch is encouraged as long as you remember not to feed the animals.
The fee is not unreasonable for an all day activity ($13.75/adults and $10.75 for children) and there are online coupons to shave a few extra bucks off the entrance. We are always of the mentality that if we have to pay for an activity; we are going to make the most of it. So when the doors open at 10:00 a.m. we are there to greet the staff and if possible they are sweeping us out the door at closing.
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.
An aggressive plan has been released to attempt an eradication effort of the newest aquatic invasive species to Lake George – the Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea). An ad hoc coalition of environmental groups, scientists, and public agencies developed the Plan to Eradicate the Infestation of Invasive Species Asian Clam in Lake George, which details efforts starting after ice-out next month to try and rid the lake of the Asian clam. This plan, organized by the Lake George Asian Clam Rapid Response Task Force, details the scope of the problem in Lake George, long-term threats from this invasive, options for treatment, and details a plan that will try and eradicate this clam in the lake. » Continue Reading.
Purchased in 2008 by the Lake George Land Conservancy, the Berry Pond Tract protects 1,436 acres within the towns of Lake George, Warrensburg, and Lake Luzerne. This tract of land contains ecologically important wetlands, ponds, vernal pools and the headwaters of West Brook. The purchase was made possible in part through a loan from the Open Space Conservancy (OSC) and funding provided by the Helen V. Froehlich Foundation.
The Berry Pond Tract is home to many forms of wildlife. There are several active beaver populations and a small Great Blue Heron rookery. This purchase provides expanded outdoor recreational resources including some amazing views of the lake. It also connects nearly 10,000 acres of protected land and protects the headwaters of West Brook, the single largest source of contaminants to the South Basin of Lake George. West Brook is one of the largest, most polluted streams in the Lake George Watershed. A substantial section of the downstream portion has impervious surface streamside, which contributes large amounts of stormwater runoff. Studies have indicated high readings of specific conductance (indicator of instream pollution), excessive amounts of Nitrogen and Phosphorus as well as substrate covering algal blooms. West Brook is important habitat for wildlife and spawning fish, however most of the downstream substrate is silt and sand. The streams course has been altered and channalized, thus speeding up the current. There is very limited riparian cover along the downstream portions, most being of non-native species. The lack of cover results in higher water temperatures and lower dissolved oxygen levels.
Protecting the headwaters of a stream is important to the overall health of the stream, however what takes place in the downstream sections can adversely impair the lake. That is why the West Brook Conservation Initiative was formed. This project to restore and protect Lake George is a collaborative campaign between the FUND for Lake George, the Lake George Land Conservancy and the Lake George Association. The main goal is to eliminate the largest source of contaminants to the South Basin. For more information on the West Brook Conservation Initiative and the science behind West Brook, visit the FUND for Lake George website.
Access to the Berry Pond Tract hiking trails is via the Lake George Recreation Center Trail System. For more information on the Berry Pond Tract, check out the Lake George Land Conservancy website at: http://lglc.org or join me in a snowshoe during the Winter Warm Up, at the Lake George Recreation Center on Saturday March 12, 2011 from 10am till 2pm. Bring your family and friends to this free event hosted by the Lake George Land Conservancy. Warm up by the bonfire; enjoy tasty treats donated by local businesses and take part in a guided snowshoe or other activities for all ages.
Come out and join me during the snowshoe and learn more about the Berry Pond Tract and West Brook. I hope to see you there.
Photo: “All” West Brook, Lake George NY. Compliments Blueline Photography, Jeremy Parnapy.
Corrina Parnapy is a Lake George native and a naturalist who writes regularly about the environment and Adirondack natural history for the Adirondack Almanack.
Joe Martens, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s choice to become the state’s new Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, was instrumental in protecting the 1,423-acre Berry Pond Tract on Prospect Mountain that includes the headwaters of West Brook.
Protecting the land was a crucial part of the West Brook Conservation Initiative, a $15 million project to restore the water quality of Lake George’s south basin; as president of the Open Space Institute, Martens arranged a $2.64 million loan to the Lake George Land Conservancy to buy the property. “We wouldn’t have been able to protect the Berry Pomd Tract without OSI, and Joe Martens was instrumental in securing the OSI’s loan to the Conservancy,” said Nancy Williams, executive director of the Lake George Land Conservancy.
“Joe Martens understood the importance of the Berry Pond tract and the necessity to protect it from development if we are to protect the water quality of Lake George,” said Walt Lender, the executive director of the Lake George Association.
When Cuomo announced that he would nominate Martens to head the Department of Environmental Conservation on January 4, Lake George conservation groups were unanimous in their praise.
“Joe Martens has a strong grasp of the importance of Lake George to this area’s economy and way of life. We expect him to be an advocate for protecting the environment around the state and around Lake George; we all know that when we protect the lake, we protect this area’s most important economic asset,” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the FUND for Lake George.
“It’s a positive sign that someone who’s already familiar with our issues, who has an intimate knowledge of Lake George and the Adirondacks, has been appointed to the position,” said Lender.
“We feel his experience and leadership on conservation issues will set a good precedent for the Department and hopefully sets a strong commitment for the new administration on environmental issues,” said Chris Navitsky, Lake George Waterkeeper.
According to The Fund for Lake George, Martens brings a long resume in state government to the new position. In addition to serving as president of the Open Space Institute and president of ORDA, he worked in the State Legislature, as an administrator at the Adirondack Park Agency, and as a top environmental aide to Governor Mario Cuomo.
Martens studied Resource Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and received an M.S. in Resource Management from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University. Photo: Tim Barnett, Adirondack Nature Conservancy; Dave Decker, Lake George Watershed Coalition; Peter Bauer, The Fund for Lake George; Mayor Bob Blais, Lake George Village; Walt Lender, Lake George Association; Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward; DEC Region 5 director Betsy Lowe; Nancy Williams, Lake George Land Conservancy; with Joe Martens in Lake George to announce the protection of the Berry Pond Tract, 2008.
Natural history fans will be happy to see the return of nature writing to the Almanack with the addition of our newest contributor Corrina Parnapy.
Corrina is a Lake George native who has been working and volunteering as a naturalist and an environmental research scientist for over ten years. Her love and interest in the Adirondacks led her to undergraduate degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies. Her professional focus has been on invasive species, fish and algae. Corrina was recently invited to sit on the Lake George Land Conservancy’s Conservation and Stewardship Committee. She currently works for both the state and on a contract basis for the FUND for Lake George, while working on a forthcoming book, A Guide to the Common Algae of the Lake George Watershed.
Please join me in welcoming Corrina as the Almanack‘s 23rd regular contributor. Her columns on the environment and natural history will appear every other week.
Two years from now, the use of phosphorus-heavy fertilizers will be prohibited not only in the Town and Village of Lake George, but throughout the Adirondack Park and, in fact, the entire state.
Governor David A.Paterson has approved a measure that prohibits homeowners and landscape contractors from applying fertilizer containing phosphorus on any lawns within the state.
The Town and the Village of Lake George adopted regulations limiting the use of fertilizers with phosphorus earlier this summer.
The only exceptions to the state law will be for property owners who are installing a new lawn, or if a soil test shows a phosphorus deficiency. Retailers can still sell phosphorus fertilizer for consumers who fall into those categories, provided signs about the dangers of phosphorus are posted. The new law, which takes effect January 1, 2012, also prohibits the application of any fertilizer whatsoever within 20 feet of a water body. Fertilizers can be used within ten feet of water if a vegetative buffer has been established along a shore.
“We think this is a great step forward,” said an official with New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
Phosphorus has been shown to contribute to the spread of aquatic weeds and the growth of algae, robbing water of oxygen that fish need to survive and limiting the recreational use of lakes and ponds.
“In time, we’ll see a marked difference in plant growth in Lake George once the full effect of the phosphorus ban is achieved,” said Walt Lender, executive director of the Lake George Association.
According to Lender, the bill also bans phosphorus in dishwashing detergent.
“This will keep additional phosphorus out of septic systems and municipal wastewater treatment systems,” Lender said.
“We’re very pleased Governor Paterson signed the bill into law,” said Lender. “It’s a huge step in the right direction, not least because it has generated a lot of discussion about the effects of phosphorus on water quality.”
New York State Senator Betty Little said she voted in favor of the bill after it was amended to allow retailers more time to rid their shelves of phosphorus fertilizers.
She also noted that the New York State Farm Bureau had withdrawn its objections to the bill.
According to Peter Bauer, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George, the ban on phosphorus-based fertilizers should be followed by a ban on the use of all fertilizers.
A fertlizer ban would reduce pollution by another nutrient, nitrogen, which can be just as harmful to water quality, Bauer said.
“Phosphorus free fertilizers are like low tar and nicotine cigarettes – they’re just as dangerous as the originals,” said Bauer. “We don’t need any of these products for healthy lawns.”
Illustration courtesy the Lake Champlain Basin Program’s Lawn to Lake initiative.