Lake George losing ground to invasive clams

An invasive species of clams that has bedeviled Lake Tahoe for a decade is now threatening Lake Geor

An invasive species of clams that has bedeviled Lake Tahoe for a decade is now threatening Lake George, despite an intensive, $1.5 million eradication effort over the past two years.

To rid Lake George of Asian clams, the Lake George Park Commission is considering raising boat registration fees and establishing a tax district to pay for boat inspections and other efforts, according to the commission’s director David Wick. The proposal was brought up Friday as Warren County supervisors discussed ways to fund efforts to control invasive species in Lake George, a major tourist draw in the county.

The fast-breeding clams were first discovered in a sandy bay two years ago, prompting efforts to smother them with plastic mats laid by divers. This month, the thumbnail-size clams were found in four new sites in the 32-mile-long Adirondack lake, raising the total to eight.

Waste from Asian clams has triggered algae blooms in Lake Tahoe. Their sharp shells befoul beaches, and rapidly expanding populations compete for food with slow-growing native freshwater mussels.

Wick said the Lake George Asian Clam Rapid Response Task Force found the efforts to smother clams with plastic mats were less successful this year than in the past, with only 70 to 80 percent of clams eradicated. He said the task force will seek permission to keep the mats in place from early October into May, instead of just 45 days in springtime.

It would cost about $1 million to put weighted mats on all eight infested locations, Wick said, but the task force has only about $140,000.

Lake Tahoe set up a mandatory boat-cleaning system in 2009, which requires all boats to be cleaned with high-pressure hot water to remove invasive plant and animal species before the boats are launched in the lake. The program is funded partly by federal funds and partly by registration stickers required for boaters.

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