In a letter penned by Lake George Mayor Robert Blais on behalf of the Stop Aquatic Invasives From Entering Lake George Partnership to the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the governor received high marks on his attention to work helping protect the Adirondack lake.
“Governor Cuomo has recognized the importance of the North Country, he’s recognized the fact that tourism is our major industry that we have left up here, and he has been a partner with us in pushing all the initiatives forward, but particularly played a key role in this mandatory inspection program,” said Mayor Blais.
Last week, the Lake George Park Commission adopted a final version of the Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program, which requires all boats and trailers entering the lake be inspected for plant and animal material. Contaminated craft will be redirected to six mandatory boat washing stations.
Blais, who serves as honorary chairman of S.A.V.E. Lake George, also praised State Senator Betty Little, Assemblyman Dan Stec, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens, LGPC Executive Director Dave Wick and Deputy Secretary for the Environment Basil Seggos.
Blais said in his letter “we will not get a second chance to get this right.”
“The health and the economy of this entire region benefits the state as a whole,” said Blais. “Certainly if something happens here in Lake George it becomes a matter of national news because Lake George is so well known, and is obviously visited and used by people all over the world.”
Eric Siy, Executive Director of the FUND For Lake George, a member of the S.A.V.E. partnership, said only unprecedented collaboration from the public and private sectors can help keep the waters of Lake George clean. Siy said the AIS Prevention Program for Lake George should serve as a model for all lakes in the state.
“There are so many vulnerable lakes in the Adirondacks, lakes, ponds, rivers, streams – so this is the first step in a process that needs to continue on the fast track.”
According to the Lake George association, there are currently six aquatic invasive species found in Lake George – the Spiny Water Flea, Asian Clam, Zebra Mussels, Eurasian Watermilfoil, and Chinese Mystery Snail. Two invasive species, Water Chestnut and Brittle Naiad, have been eradicated.
A partnership between IBM, the FUND for Lake George, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute known as the Jefferson Project has been researching the lake, collecting new data that will help future conservation efforts.
Findings include data on the increasing salt levels in the lake. Siy said that state and local governments can take more steps to protect Lake George.
“Every year an estimated 13 tons of road salt is applied per lane-mile in the Lake George watershed. It’s a huge volume and it all ultimately ends up in Lake George,” said Siy. “So there are some things we can do now. We’re already acting on the invasives front, we need similar commitments on the salt reduction front, and more to come.”
The AIS Prevention Program will go into effect in May.