Five environmental organizations on Monday urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state environmental officials to support a mandatory boat inspection and decontamination proposal to keep invasive species out of Lake George.
The Lake George Park Commission announced in November it was exploring a $40 mandatory inspection fee on trailered boats to prevent new invasive species from entering the 32-mile-long Adirondack lake.
Eurasian milfoil, zebra mussels and spiny waterfleas are already causing problems in the lake. The proposed new regulations are designed to keep at least four other kinds of invasive species from becoming established in the lake.
“Infestation of aquatic invasive species is one of the major threats facing the ecological health and economy of Lake George and the Adirondack Park,” says the letter delivered Monday to Gov. Cuomo and Commissioner Joe Martens of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The letter is signed by the Adirondack Council, the Adirondack Mountain Club, Protect the Adirondacks, Adirondack Wild, and the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter.
“Two of the most damaging aquatic invasive species are in close proximity to Lake George and the Adirondack Park in the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes, including quagga mussels and hydrilla,” the letter says.
One of the nation’s best programs for mandatory boat inspection and decontamination to prevent invasive species is in Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada, the environmental organization said. This program was started three years ago and has been a highly successful “interdiction and prevention” program, the letter says.
John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council said Monday the Lake George mandatory inspection and decontamination program, if it becomes a reality, would be a model for other lakes in the Adirondack Park.
“The model, if successful, could be replicated in other lakes in the Adirondacks,” he said.
The environmental organizations say the Lake George Park Commission’s mandatory inspection plan would require statutory changes in state environmental law “in order to increase boat and dock fees to pay for” the program’s administration.
The plan also needs the full cooperation of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which operates three major boat launching sites on Lake George, the letter says.
The proposed mandatory inspection program on Lake George is for trailered boats. If adopted by the commission after public hearings and approved by the state, the program — hopefully — would keep out at least four kinds of invasive species not currently living in Lake George, including quagga mussels and hydrilla.
The mandatory inspections would be done at five inspection stations strategically placed around the lake in Warren, Washington and Essex counties, according to David Wick, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission.
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, drained and dry, it would be cleaned at the inspection station prior to being allowed into the lake.