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Boat inspectors train to keep invasive species out of Lake George

A Lake George Park Commission employee demonstrates how to effectively wash a hull of an outboard to get rid of contaminants during a training session held April 30 for new Park Commission employees. The agency’s invasive species abatement program which involves mandatory boat inspection — and decontamination if necessary — begins May 15 for boats being launched in Lake George.

A Lake George Park Commission employee demonstrates how to effectively wash a hull of an outboard to get rid of contaminants during a training session held April 30 for new Park Commission employees. The agency’s invasive species abatement program which involves mandatory boat inspection — and decontamination if necessary — begins May 15 for boats being launched in Lake George. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Dave Wick, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission looked around at several groups of his agency’s new employees, clustered around watercraft parked in the Lake George Forum parking lot.

While several of them blasted hulls of boats with high-pressure streams of hot water, instructors offered them tips on technique of decontaminating boats to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

“This is tremendous,” he said. “This is the first program of its kind in the eastern U.S.”

On April 30, about 50 new boat inspection technicians underwent training in preparation for the new mandatory boat inspection and decontamination program that begins May 15.

The new park commission employees learned the fine points of thorough inspection and decontamination of watercraft — both inboards and outboards. The new park commission employees learned how to clean out hulls, bilges, engines, bait wells and ballast tanks. They learned how to identify various invasive species, as well as determine whether a boat was truly cleaned, drained and dry — and could bypass decontamination.

For the training session and related classroom work last week, The Fund for Lake George brought in D. Davis and her husband Michael, nationally-renowned instructors in watercraft decontamination who has trained people at Lake Tahoe and various western states on how to curb the spread of invasive species.

D. Davis stepped back from a group she was training.

“I love how here in Lake George you have buy-ins from the area communities,” she said. “Any successful program is a group effort — In other sites where we’ve trained, this hasn’t always been the case.”

Wick explained that the program to curb invasives already has a head start, with thousands of boats already certified clean through the “frozen boats” program, as well as agreements with boat haulers and private marinas to assure no live invasive plants or animals are introduced into the lake. He estimated that as many as 4,000 boats were already certified clean of invasives, and ready to go into the lake.

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