By Walt Lender
Lake George Association Executive Director
There’s good news and there’s bad news this week as we mark the National Invasive Species Awareness Week – Feb. 26 to March 2.
The good news, according to the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (one of the Lake George Association’s partners in defense against invasive species), is there were no new lakes with invasives in the Adirondacks in 2017.
We owe you and people like you our thanks for that good news. Like with the LGA’s original Lake Steward voluntary boat inspection program, you realized that a few minutes of wait is no problem when the future of Lake George is at stake.
And when the LGA’s voluntary program became the Lake George Park Commission’s Mandatory Boat Inspection Program, you accepted the change and appreciated the need to protect our water. You understand that everyone has a part in protecting against the introduction and spread of invasive species in Lake George and in the Adirondacks.
In fact, three out of four lakes in the Adirondacks have no invasive species, according to APIPP statistics. Lake George has six, and the LGA’s goal is to manage (and eliminate, where possible) those species and prevent more from being introduced and established in Lake George – or transferred elsewhere.
The bad news is that a forest invasive insect called the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid was found for the first time in a small area on Prospect Mountain. The state DEC is treating the infected trees and some others around it.
Fortunately for Lake George, our partners at the Lake George Land Conservancy are also keeping watch and are taking the lead in raising the alarm about the adelgid in the Lake George watershed.
The adelgid is a concern for the Lake George region because a large percentage of the trees in the Lake George watershed are hemlocks. If something damaging to them was to get established and begin killing those trees, the problems could be immense, from decaying hillsides to warmer streambeds to silt and dirt creating deltas in the Lake – which would create the perfect breeding ground for invasive plants establishing themselves in another area of the Lake.
The early discovery of the adelgid on a hemlock tree on Prospect Mountain shows the benefits of a program of early detection and rapid response. The goal is to be vigilant for changes that might provide an opening for an invasive species, to always be watchful against the introduction of invasives, and to rapidly respond when one is discovered.
A commitment to early detection and prevention as a way to protect Lake George water has spurred the LGA to invest heavily in the Lake George Park Commission’s Mandatory Boat Inspection Program – in fact, we have committed another $30,000 for 2018.
Additionally, the LGA is investing another $100,000 to hand-harvest invasive Eurasian watermilfoil from the Lake – a program led by the Lake George Park Commission.
We will continue to participate in the inspection swims for invasives (milfoil and Asian clams) with our partners at the Lake George Park Commission – putting the pledge of early detection into action each year.
And that brings us back to you.
We know our members swim, boat, fish and hike throughout the watershed. The agencies and nonprofits rely on you – you are our eyes and ears throughout the region, looking at your surroundings and letting the LGA know of your concerns or of changes to your part of the Lake.
It takes a little effort, but that is the price we all pay for protecting our Class AA-Special Lake.
We look forward to seeing you this year on the beaches, in the water, in the islands, at your camps – and look forward to many more years of enjoying Lake George with you.
Walt Lender is the executive director of the Lake George Association. For more than 130 years, the Lake George Association has been the guardian of Lake George water, focusing on water quality protection, scientific monitoring, Lake-Friendly living, education programs and long-term lake sustainability.