Who We Are: A History of Lake George
The Lake George Association has played a pivotal role in Lake George history.
In August of 1885, 125 years ago, 16 civic-minded fishermen who loved Lake George decided to do the right thing. They banded together to form the Lake George Association (LGA)-- the very first lake conservation organization in the U.S. and in the history of Lake George. Their goal was a simple one-- to give back to the lake what it was giving to them. Their early mission: protect the fish! Their first project was to plan, finance, and carry out a program to restock the lake with the species of fish they enjoyed catching. Their later mission: protect the water where the fish swim! The minutes from their first meeting - on August 20, 1885, are pictured at left.
1885 was the height of the Conservation Movement. It was a time when natural resource conservation was gaining a foothold in the U.S., thanks to men like Thoreau, Emerson and Theodore Roosevelt. Congress created a national park system. New York established the Adirondack Forest Preserve. America’s natural areas, like Lake George, the “Queen of American Lakes,” were becoming destinations for tourists, naturalists, and sportsmen.
Throughout Lake George history, the Association has faced its share of conservation challenges.
- Pigpens and livestock yards in the 1880s drained downhill to Lake George. LGA members encouraged and helped the farmers to clean things up.
- In the early 1900s, steamboat-touring companies could dump ash, sewage and garbage overboard. The LGA prevented passage of a bill in Albany that would have allowed this to continue.
- In 1909, the Association started to place and maintain navigational markers on the Lake to aid in boating safety, and by the 1940s, the LGA was managing some 300 markers. This responsibility was handed over to the NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation in the 1970s.
- Expanding lakeside populations meant more people using the Lake for drinking water, and an abundance of outdoor privies. In the mid-1900s, the LGA hired sanitation inspectors on behalf of the towns to encourage the construction of more sanitary facilities.
- In the 1940s, LGA leaders influenced the state legislature to undertake technical studies of the Lake for the first time. This effort eventually resulted in the establishment of the Lake George Law, providing regulation to protect water quality and water safety.
- In 1947, a long-awaited verdict in a lawsuit regarding Lake George water levels was passed. A New York Supreme Court placed control of lake levels with the state of New York, instead of private industry. This was a victory for the Lake George Association, which had long advocated specific levels best suited to the interests of the Lake and its people.
- Since 1957, LGA has produced a newsletter to promote awareness of Lake George issues and to encourage voluntary participation in action-oriented problem solving. The LGA newsletter is distributed to government agencies, municipalities, legislators, and of course to members. Recent issues of LGA News can be viewed on this site.
- In the 1960s, the LGA achieved the first ban on phosphate detergents in New York State. This June, with support from the LGA, the town of Lake George voted to ban phosphorus fertilizers.
- Faced with many subdivision and condominium proposals in the 1980s, the LGA took legal action when necessary to ensure development plans included effective stormwater and wastewater systems.
- When Eurasian watermilfoil was discovered in 1985, the LGA quickly brought expertise on weed control techniques to decision makers, community leaders, business owners and residents. The LGA then made a hard and long case for eradicating it with the herbicide SONAR.
- Following two years of work with lake-based organizations, the “Plan for the Future of Lake George” was published in 1987. Currently in progress is the “Lake George Plan for the Next Century.” While the planning proceeds, the level of state and local participation in designing and constructing environmental remediation projects to improve Lake George is increasing significantly.
- In the 1990s, the LGA moved to expand its programs on two fronts: to provide participatory educational programs for lake users and to undertake tangible Lake Saving Projects to remedy known environmental problems.
- Zebra Mussels were discovered in December 1999, offshore near Lake George Village. Bateaux Below and Darrin Fresh Water Institute teamed up to remove them. The LGA sought out the experts to provide the foundation for action. At the 2000 LGA Annual Meeting, representatives of U.S. Sea Grant and DFWI described the national and local situation to a crowd of lake users. LGA also began producing and distributing zebra mussel information and identification cards throughout the watershed. The program led to the creation of a Zebra Mussel Task Force, a coordinating committee of involved organizations that continues to expand with increasing voluntary participation.
- In 2006, the LGA's Water Recreation Committee worked with Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward and the governor's office to secure additional state funding to overhaul the lake's navigational marker system, which was in a state of disrepair. That effort also resulted in a partnership with the Lake George Power Squadron to reprint new and more accurate navigational charts based on the actual GPS locations of all the buoys on the lake.