With Lake George residents and advocates keeping a careful eye on the lake, DEC scientist Lauren Townley (pictured here) updated the Lake George Park Commission on the state’s latest HABs action plan for Lake George, which was updated in August. She shared the update in Bolton at the Lake George Park Commission’s first in-person meeting since prior to the pandemic.
The permit application comes after the state funded a series of major upgrades at the site, including a new visitors lodge, improved trails and modernized snowmaking equipment. A new 3.5 million gallon reservoir can hold the water needed to make snow at the site. The upgrades also aim to attract international competitions to the venue like the World University Games slated for this winter.
In my almost 11 months at the Explorer, I have done a lot of reporting on the Adirondack Park’s critical water infrastructure. Infrastructure that cleans water for drinking, protects lakes and streams from pollution, mitigates flooding and literally holds up much of the region’s watery landscapes.
The report, released earlier this month, attributed the chloride decline to a mild winter season, improvements to the Village of Lake Placid’s stormwater runoff system and a new program to reduce private and public road salt use around the lake.
Mirror Lake is one of the lakes most impacted by salt pollution in the Adirondack Park and has been the focus of the Ausable River Association and local officials seeking to limit salt contamination. Still, researchers measured chloride concentration of 52 mg/L, much higher than chloride levels found in lakes unimpacted by salt runoff.
As a new law requiring boaters certify they have cleaned their boat and that it does not contain any visible plant or animal material before launching in the park goes into effect, though, staffing remains a key challenge to both the stewards and the environmental conservation officers tasked with enforcing the new law.
During the first Adirondack Lakes Alliance symposium in recent years, Adirondack Watershed Institute Executive Director Dan Kelting previewed the panel’s recommendations. Here’s a look at some of what he said was included in recent drafts:
I just got back from an overnight trip to Duck Hole in the Western High Peaks so will keep this brief. Photographer Mike Lynch and I joined guide Matt Burnett and a group of local teenagers on a trip back to the former dammed pond that drained after the dam blew out during Tropical Storm Irene.
More to come on why we made the trip, but I can attest that the succession of ecosystems is well underway a decade after the water drained. Moss, grasses, shrubs and flowering plants have filled the area, attracting monarch butterflies. Fast-growing birches and the first generation of new spruce and cedar saplings have taken root. Nature is dynamic and, if allowed, fast to recover from humans’ mark.
Next, I’m headed to Paul Smith’s College for the Adirondack Lakes Alliance symposium. I’m looking forward to hearing discussion on a range of important topics, including the contested use of herbicide to combat invasive aquatic plants. I hope to meet some of you there.
Commission officials said they expected to be holding public hearings on the septic rules sometime this fall, possibly in October. The park commission will host a public information session on the program early next month.
Allison Gaddy, a senior planner with the Lake Champlain Lake George Regional Planning Board also updated the park commission on a forthcoming Lake George Watershed Plan. The plan will include an assessment of existing local ordinances, codes and planning documents, as well as an overall review of the condition of the lake, surrounding natural areas and development. It covers a range of issues, including septic issues, land acquisition and conservation, invasive species, climate resiliency, road salt impacts and more.
Focused on water quality, the plan will also outline proposed projects around the lake, providing a source of ideas for future grant applications.
Gaddy said a draft could be available to the public as soon as August or in the next couple of months. The public will have a chance to offer comments on the plan.
Also: the commission’s annual boat steward program has seen a slight uptick in boater contacts compared to the same time last year and has intercepted over 100 instances of invasive species, including two quagga mussels, which have not yet established in Lake George.
I will keep an eye out for more details on all of these topics.
We will be working on an update in the coming weeks and want to hear from anyone who has seen the scene at boat launches this summer: Are people complying with rules or resisting the message of stewards working to limit the spread of invasive species?
A 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 judge agreed with the association’s lawyer who argued the herbicide plan could be delayed without impacting the current state of the lake, but if the commission was allowed to carry out its plan, any outcome of the lawsuit would be meaningless. Next step in the case: a conference later this month to come up with a briefing schedule.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program – a federal program established to guide and fund research, restoration and protection of the lake – on Friday released the latest 5-year update to its guiding plan.
The plan outlined continued threats like high phosphorus levels, harmful algae blooms (HABs), toxic substances and pathogens, and aquatic invasive species. It championed the more than $20 million in grants to more than 600 groups and individuals the program has made to reduce pollution, educate the public, and research the lake and its health.
The new iteration will increase the focus on climate change impacts in the basin and seek to engage a more diverse group of stakeholders.
There’s plenty more happening on the water beat this time of year.
As people enjoyed a long holiday weekend on the water and trails in the Adirondacks, the unofficial start to summer, another season opened for the year: the dreaded harmful algal blooms (HABs).
The Department of Environmental Conservation last week announced the beginning of the reporting season for harmful algal blooms in waters across the state and the Adirondacks. The agency’s map keeps track of HABs reported in the past two weeks as well as the entire season and is the best real-time view of the spread of the potentially-toxic algal blooms across the state.
The Lake George Association last week made good on its promise to explore all options for blocking the planned use of an aquatic herbicide on Lake George.
The nation’s oldest lake association – along with Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, the Town of Hague and a shoreline resident – sued Thursday to stop the herbicide plan. In its petition, the association took aim at the process that led to permit approvals by the Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency, arguing the agencies failed to consider important concerns raised by the public. The suit accuses the state agencies of “behind the scenes decision-making” to rush the plan to approval.
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