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Green groups lobby state for mandatory boat inspection on Lake George

In an attempt to smother Asian clams which have invaded Lake George’s Shepard Park Beach, mats have been laid down on the  popular swimming venue to smother the sharp-edged creatures. With the mats to be in place  through April,  events of the Lake George Winter Carnival have been relocated.

In an attempt to smother Asian clams which have invaded Lake George’s Shepard Park Beach, mats have been laid down on the popular swimming venue to smother the sharp-edged creatures. With the mats to be in place through April, events of the Lake George Winter Carnival have been relocated. Photo by Thom Randall.

— A pilot program this past summer demonstrated that a substantial number of boats entering the lake were carrying invasive plants and creatures.

Some members of the Lake George Park Commission, along with its new director Dave Wick, have called for enactment of the control measure. An initial proposal called for boat wash and inspection stations at Norowal Marina in Bolton and one on Lake George Village property near Northway Exit 21 and at the state’s boat launches at Rogers Rock and Mossy Point.

One of the issues concerning state officials has been the cost. It has been estimated that dock and boat registration fees would have to be boosted by about 75 percent to pay for the boat inspection and decontamination mandate, estimated to cost $700,000 annually. Those fee increases would be bolstered by a proposed $40 inspection fee for boats to be launched in Lake George.

Environmentalists note, however that it is far more expensive to attempt to control invasives once they’re introduced rather than prevent their introduction in the first place.

Over the past two years, area municipalities have spent more than $2 million in attempts to control the fast-reproducing Asian clams which foul the waters.

Lake George Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson has suggested that a special tax district — consisting of lakeside properties — be created to help bankroll the program.

The letter to Cuomo and Martens cites that the Park Commission is seeking to move forward on with the mandatory program in several weeks.

“Aquatic invasive species are one of the major threats facing the ecological health and economy of Lake George and the Adirondack Park,’ the letter reads. “These species can rapidly change the ecology of a lake, wetland, stream or river as well as significantly impair and diminish recreational enjoyment.”

The letter also warns of the probability, in the absence of a boat inspection and decontamination program, of how Lake George is likely to be infected with quagga mussels and hydrilla, two major threats to water-borne recreation and lake health.

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