For the last two years, all boats entering Lake George have had to meet three requirements: they must be cleaned, drained, and dry. If not, boaters are sent to a washing station free of charge.
The program spearheaded by the Lake George Park Commission and executed through an army of volunteers has inspected thousands of boats and has helped keep the introduction of invasive pests under control. Dave Wick is Executive Director of the Lake George Park Commission.
“We ran two years of the mandatory boat inspection program on Lake George and it was seen as a tremendous success for all the parties that have been involved in it,” said Wick.
The program has received praise from environmental organizations, local governments, and boaters alike.
On Wednesday, the Commission held a public hearing in Bolton Landing to gather comments before a vote April 8th to make the pilot program permanent.
“Permanent is always contingent upon funding of course, but the regulations themselves would be voted or not to make permanent or not, and that’s going to happen next week,” said Wick.
Members of the SAVE Lake George Partnership, which aims to control the invasive plants and animals in the Adirondack lake, have celebrated the prospect. Walt Lender is Executive Director of the Lake George Association…
“This is the first of its kind in the Northeast. The first permanent boat inspection program that’s mandatory. And I think that’s fantastic because it will be great protection for the lake. And it’s good to know that moving forward, hopefully, no new invasive species get into Lake George because it’s so costly and so difficult to manage once they’re here,” said Lender.
Lake George is currently host to five aquatic invaders. Those plants and animals can threaten native species that call the lake home and can also affect water quality and clarity.
Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky says as the Park Commission takes comments, he would suggest expanding the mandatory boat inspection program later into the calendar year. Last year, the pilot program ran from April to November 1st.
“There’s an increased risk in the increased numbers, and also we’re finding through scientific data that the Aquatic Invasive species, such as the Asian Clam, are able to reproduce at a much later time than what was thought,” said Navitsky.
A coalition of state agencies, lake associations, local governments, businesses owners, and others are working together to develop an Adirondack-wide aquatic invasive species prevention plan.
Lake George’s boat inspection program has been heralded as a model for the rest of the state. Wick says as the work on Lake George is being recognized, it increases the chances for similar programs across the state.
“Lake George has been ramping up for quite a while. And New York state is starting to get there and I think what they’re doing with the extra funding that the governor is putting in through the Environmental Protection Fund statewide, I think is a great step, and they’re doing some pretty great things,” said Wick.