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Partnerships A Theme At Lake George Association Annual Meeting

Lake George
Lucas Willard

At the annual meeting of the Lake George Association, those working with the civic group reported on the past year’s conservation efforts on one of the region’s most valuable natural assets.

For LGA Executive Director Walt Lerner, the past year has been focused on forming partnerships…

“I think what we found is working with state agency folks, working with other partners, local municipalities, I think we can put all of our energies together to become more efficient and get things done," said Lerner.

Perhaps the most impactful effort of the LGA was the launch of the Lake George Park Commission’s Aquatic Invasive Species Monitoring Program.

Beginning in the spring, six monitoring stations were set up around the lake, where boaters are required to have their vessels and trailers inspected for invasive hitchhikers. If the vessels are not cleaned, drained, and dry, boaters are directed to a high-pressure washing station free of charge.

Executive Director of the Lake George Park Commission David Wick said at Friday’s meeting that over the course of the summer, more than 13,000 boaters have visited the inspection stations, and of those, 11 percent were directed to have their equipment washed. More than 120 boats were found to be carrying invasive species.

“You know, the great thing is the public supports it extremely strongly," said Wick. "We're able to do the inspections, get them in and out within 5 to 7 minutes, and we see just tremendous public support for it."

The inspection program is supported by the LGA and other partners and lake advocates in the community, and is partially modeled after the LGA’s Lake Steward program.

LGA Education Coordinator Kristen Rohne shared some of the findings of the Lake Steward Program, which ran from 2008 to 2013, where students inspected over 32,000 boats and educated 75,000 boaters. The Lake Stewards identified invasive plants and animals in 490 inspections, including some never found before in Lake George.

“Quagga mussels are very similar to zebra mussels, and so one of the stewards actually found them attached to a boat coming to Lake George, and it is one of those species we don't have in Lake George that we want to keep out."

Standing beside the LGA’s Floating Classroom boat, Rohne said education efforts in the past year have focused on the surrounding community.

“This year we’ve been trying to do a lot more outreach and getting out to people at different events, and really just spreading the word, and getting to boaters the message of 'cleaned, drained, dry', and just getting kids and families involved in protecting Lake George and getting the word out," said Rohne.

In May, the LGA was awarded with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Quality Award for its education efforts aboard the Floating Classroom.

Assemblyman Dan Stec, who represents all of Lake George, highlighted some of the bills he’s co-sponsored to prevent the spread of aquatic invasives across New York. One bill awaiting signature would prohibit the movement of invasives from water body to water body. Another would make uniform signage across the state warning of the transport of aquatic invaders.

Mentioning the partnerships between the LGA, the Lake George Park Commission, the FUND For Lake George, and others, Stec, a first-term Republican, said the voice of Lake George is louder than ever in Albany.

“Everyone is rowing in the same direction, more or less, so it's easy for the state to get behind issues that are important to Lake George," said Stec.

Although the Park Commissions boat inspection program is supported by donors and volunteers, Stec he’d like to see the state show more support for such efforts.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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