The Lake George Park Commission is exploring a $40 mandatory inspection fee on trailered boats to prevent new invasive species from entering the 32-mile-long lake.
“The whole idea is to keep new invasive species out of the lake,” said David Wick, the executive director of the Lake George Park Commission.
He said Eurasian milfoil, zebra mussels and spiny waterfleas are already causing problems in the lake.
The proposed mandatory inspection program for trailered boats, if adopted by the commission after public hearings and approved by the state, would keep out at least four kinds of invasive species not currently living in Lake George, Wick said.
Those invasive species, which are found in other lakes and rivers in New York state and nearby states, are:
u Quagga mussels, which are like zebra muscles but more aggressive.
u Hydrilla, an aquatic plant that is similar to milfoil but causes even more problems.
u Brazilian elodea, an aquatic plant.
u Water chestnut, which spreads quickly and clogs boating lanes.
The mandatory inspections would be done at five inspection stations strategically placed around the lake in Warren, Washington and Essex counties.
The theme of the inspections is that trailered boats coming into the lake from other lakes or rivers must be “clean, drained and dry.”
If the boat is not clean, dry, and drained, it would be cleaned at the inspection station prior to being allowed into the lake.
The proposed mandatory program, which is modeled after one currently in place at Lake Tahoe, would cost about $700,000 each year to staff and equip.
The $40 fee would only cover a small portion of the cost, so the commission has been looking at a variety of funding sources to make up the balance.
These funding sources include increasing annual boat and dock registration fees on the lake, state and federal grants, using occupancy tax money and using a portion of the counties’ sales tax revenue.
The next step in the mandatory boat fee proposal will be at the Lake George Park Commission’s board of commissioners meeting on Nov. 27.
Wick said at this meeting the board will decide whether it wants to move forward with the proposal and identify sources of funding to make it happen.
The mandatory inspection program at Lake Tahoe, for example, is funded in part by federal grant money.
The proposal would be the subject of public hearings and would have to be approved by the commission.
“The final product would go to the governor’s office for approval,” Wick said.
He said having a mandatory inspection program in place for the 2013 boating season would be a major challenge, so the commission may need a “fallback” inspection system for 2013.
Under the proposal, when the previously inspected boat is removed from the lake, the boat is secured to its trailer with a special zip tie. The zip tie is a cable and a plunger seal. If this seal and cable are still intact when the trailered boat returns to the lake, no new inspection (and fee) is necessary.
If the seal is not present — meaning the boat has been launched at another lake or river — a new inspection is required.
The proposed regional inspection stations would be near Northway Exit 21 in Lake George, at a location on the east side of the lake in the town of Queensbury, at the Norowal Marina in Bolton Landing, at the Rogers Rock State campground in Hague and at the Mossy Point state boat launch near Ticonderoga.
The LA Group of Saratoga Springs has helped to develop the details of the proposed mandatory inspection program.
For more information, see the commission web site at: www.lgpc.state.ny.us.