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Controlling invasive species is vital

To the Times of Ti:

The Lake George Park Commission has been investigating ways to prevent aquatic invasive species entering Lake George over the last few years. Several western states have instituted mandatory boat inspections in order to prevent invasive species from entering their lakes.

Lake Tahoe, which is similar to Lake George, estimates the economic impact to their area would be $22.4 million per year if the invasives were left unchecked. This analysis encompasses reduction in property values, recreational use, tourism loss, water supply impact and increased boat maintenance.

Last year, the management efforts to eradicate Asian clams, Eurasian Watermilfoil, Curly-Leaf Pondweed, etc. in Lake George approached $1 million.

In January, the full Park Commission voted to continue holding public invasive species prevention meetings every two weeks. Attendees include the general public, municipalities, environmental groups, DEC and marina owners. The short term objective is to implement a pilot boat washing program for vessels which are not "clean, drained and dry."  This pilot boat washing program will be located in one site and will clean those vessels that are not "clean drained or dry." Other launch sites will operate as they did in 2011.

The pilot program will leverage the experiences from those lakes that have already implemented the inspection and vessel-washing process. We are also developing public information programs to convey the need for all lake users to be good stewards to help us all in the prevention of the spread of invasive species.

Our goal is to partner with marinas and other launch sites to prevent infestation. There are plenty of lakes that are now infested that wish they instituted a boat inspection process at all their launches. In 2011, the trained boat inspectors in the Lake George Association’s lake steward program expanded their coverage hours at the six launch sites; they examined 8,593 vessels and removed 87 invasive species that otherwise would have infested the lake.

Lake George village and town boards, along with other towns whose properties have been directly affected, have voted to support mandatory inspections. The Park Commission will include an information flyer with the boat registrations describing the pilot inspection process to inform boat owners of any changes.

It is our goal, through public education and boat inspections, to prevent infestation in Lake George. We all need to help in this goal, and I thank you for your editorial in recognition of the problems we are attempting to manage.

John Pettica, Jr.

Invasive Species Committee Chair

Lake George Park Commission

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