State boat launches on Great Sacandaga Lake will be part of an effort to see whether the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species can be controlled.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has started a pilot program that will evaluate the flushing of a boat’s water-holding compartments to prevent the spread of microscopic aquatic invasive species.
“Boats that are not properly drained and dried prior to use are a major risk for spreading various AIS from water body to water body,” DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said.
In a program being started in partnership with Paul Smith’s College and the East Shore Schroon Lake Association, boat launch stewards will be placed at DEC boat launches on Great Sacandaga Lake, Schroon Lake, Cranberry Lake in St. Lawrence County and Second Pond in Franklin County.
Great Sacandaga Lake, a popular flood control reservoir that lies in both Fulton and Saratoga counties, has DEC boat launches in Northville, Northampton, Broadalbin and Edinburg. One steward will circulate among those sites.
The stewards will ask boaters to flush the bilge, live wells and bait wells if they contain remnant water from a prior boating trip. They will be able to direct boaters to a cleaning facility or marine repair shop that provides cleaning service. The stewards will also test various types of spray equipment, and gauge boaters’ reactions.
“Our ultimate goal is to develop a simple and effective methodology that boaters can follow that provides the desired protection from the spread of AIS, but at the same time does not unduly burden boaters or overly restrict boating,” Martens said.
The state’s mandatory inspection and boat-washing program went into effect this year at Lake George. During an appearance in Round Lake on Thursday, Martens said that kind of program may not be feasible statewide.
DEC will also collaborate with SUNY Oneonta on a two-year research project evaluating various methods that boaters may use, including car washes and potassium chloride solutions, to rid their boats of larval or adult zebra or quagga mussels.
New regulations that went into effect last month at DEC launches require boats to be drained and the boat, trailer and associated equipment cleaned of all visible plant and animal material prior to launching and after leaving the water.
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