The Lake George Park Commission has adopted final rules requiring boat inspections to prevent introduction of invasive species in Lake George.
Under the newly approved regulations, all trailered boats entering Lake George will be inspected for any plant or animal material. Those that don't pass must be cleaned at a boat-washing station. Lake George Park Commission Executive Director Dave Wick explains that six inspection stations are planned at strategic locations around the lake. "The goal is to stop all new invasives from coming into Lake George. And also, to keep any invasives that we may have in Lake George from being exported to other lakes throughout the state and region. So the standard for inspection on the way in is your boat needs to be cleaned, drained and dry. And on the way out to receive a seal that means you can come back to Lake George with no further inspections, the boat needs to be drained out, the bilge plugged and it needs to be cleaned, no obvious vegetation hanging off."
The Commission has been working with the communities surrounding the lake in drafting the regulations. Lake George Mayor Robert Blais calls the approval of mandatory boat inspections one of the most important initiatives to move forward in the past few years. "The threat of aquatic invasive species in Lake George is very real. It's been very time consuming, very labor intensive. And also has cost the communities around the lake and the state of New York a substantial amount of money to control and keep up with the spread. So we've tried to put enough wash stations out there at the most convenient places. We're going to do our very best to make certain that no boat reaches the lake without being washed."
The stations will be located at the Norowal and Huletts Landing Marinas; the Mossy Point and Rogers Rock launches; and sites in the town of Lake George and in Queensbury.
The program will cost about $700,000 a year, mostly to hire 45 inspectors. The state is paying half the cost, with the rest from a coalition of advocacy groups and local municipalities. The paid staff will not work nights, and Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky says the Fund for Lake George is working on a plan for 24-hour monitoring. "You cannot close off the public launches. The Lake George Park Commission did not have the legal authority to shut off public launches that are owned by New York State or local municipalities. So in our discussions we thought it was a key component that we are able to provide some sort of monitoring. So there will be a period during the off hours when inspectors will not be there, but there will still be night monitors to make sure that people are not launching in the wee hours of the night and morning."
Lake George is the first lake in the eastern United States to impose the free mandatory boat inspections. The initiative is effective May 15.