LAKE GEORGE — The two main organizations looking to protect the Lake George environment will be merging forces, citing the various environmental threats facing the internationally renown lake in the southern Adirondacks.
The Lake George Association and Fund for Lake George have voted to merge, operating under the Lake George Association name, the groups announced Thursday. The boards of both organizations have approved, though the membership of the LGA, most of them property owners around the lake, still must have a vote.
“We have one beautiful and beloved lake, and now we will have one voice and one powerful force for action to protect it,” said Jeff Killeen, chairman of the Fund for Lake George.
Environmental efforts to protect the lake have achieved a high level of support from property owners, the business community and local and state government, given the importance of the lake’s appearance and water quality to the Warren County/southern Adirondack recreational economy estimated to be worth close to $1 billion in visitor spending annually. A mandatory boat inspection system and a variety of other programs are overseen by the Lake George Park Commission, an environmental-protection oriented state agency.
The LGA was founded in 1885, and is believed to be the oldest lake protection organization in the country. The Fund for Lake George was established in 1980, when funding efforts were separated from the rest of the LGA. The fund has spent millions of dollars on actions to protect the lake, including the Lake George Waterkeeper and the Jefferson Project scientific research effort.
The 32-mile-long, mountain-flanked lake, often referred to as the “Queen of American Lakes,” has faced increasing environmental threats in recent years, including several invasive species, nutrient-loading from lawn and septic system runoff, road salt runoff contamination, and — for the first time last year — harmful algae blooms. “Mounting pressure on the lake’s water quality was a driving factor in bringing the two organizations together,” the organizations said in a joint press release.
“This is about unity and action to protect Lake George,” said LGA President Peter Menzies. “The environmental threats to the lake are increasing, and we will do more to protect it together.”
A new board of directors will be selected from among current members of the boards of both organizations. Kileen will be chairman of the board, and Menzies vice chairman.
Eric Siy, currently executive director of the Fund for Lake George, will become president of the the LGA, and Walt Lender, currently executive director of the LGA, will become senior vice president.
“The science-guided commitment to this bold new organization is powerful enough to take on the increasingly complex threats to our lake,” Siy said in a statement. “Together, we will harness our world-class scientific and programmatic expertise to not only succeed in safeguarding Lake George, but to serve as a much-needed model for the protection of freshwater everywhere.”