The Lake George Park Commission on Tuesday adopted final rules for mandatory boat inspections to prevent the introduction of invasive species.
The system, which will begin this summer, will include decontamination washing of boats and will be free to the boating public for at least the first year, commission Executive Director David Wick said.
The unanimous vote at a meeting at the Fort William Henry Hotel and Conference Center was the culmination of more than two years of discussions of how to keep further invasive plants and animals out of the Adirondack Park’s largest and most popular lake.
“Today is a big day for us,” Wick said after the meeting. “It all becomes real now.”
The inspection program will begin May 15. Lt. Ben Bramlage, the commission’s director of law enforcement, said navigation patrols will be beefed up for the launch of the inspection program.
Lake George, known for its clear water and recreational popularity, will become the first lake in the eastern United States to have mandatory boat inspections. Some lakes in the West, including Lake Tahoe, have mandatory inspections.
The goal is to prevent further contamination by invasive species already in the lake, such as Eurasian watermilfoil and Asian clams, and to head off the introduction of those found elsewhere in the Northeast but not in Lake George, such as the quagga mussel and hydrilla weed.
The program will cost $700,000 per year, most of it for hiring an anticipated 45 people — most of them full-time — to conduct the inspections and operate decontamination stations.
The state’s Environmental Protection Fund is providing $350,000 this year, and the S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership — a coalition of municipalities around the lake and advocacy groups — is coming up with another $350,000 and has agreed to pay the same amount next year.
“With this historic vote, the commission has upheld its protection mandate in the face of the gathering invasives threat,” declared Lake George Mayor Bob Blais, S.A.V.E.’s chairman.
There will be six inspection stations around the lake, five operated by the commission in Lake George, Bolton, Hague, Ticonderoga and Queensbury, and one that will be operated under private contract at Huletts Landing Marina on the east side of the lake.
Inspection stations could open as early as 3 a.m. for fishermen, but will generally be open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“For the most part, the idea is sunup to sundown,” Wick said.
The S.A.V.E. coalition, however, continues to push for a system of overnight monitoring at launch sites. “It is important to have around-the-clock inspectors, especially in the early years of the inspection program. In the middle of the night is when bad things tend to happen,” said Eric Siy, executive director of the Fund for Lake George.
Wick said meetings will be held in coming weeks to determine how launches can be monitored overnight, perhaps using volunteers. He said a publicity campaign about inspections will be launched in the spring.
About 16,000 boats are registered to use Lake George.