By Kristen Wilde
LGA Education Director
It is a question regularly asked of the Lake George Association staff: Why are you talking about invasive species? Doesn’t everyone know about the dangers by now?
To those people, we point out that the Lake George Park Commission’s 2018 boat inspection report showed that 1,600 boats arrived to launch in Lake George that needed to be decontaminated.
We point out that local nurseries still sell invasive and non-native plants that are tagged “ornamental.”
We point out the goldfish that were removed from a small pond that drains into the Lake a few years ago.
And we point out that the Lake George Association is spending $100,000 a year to remove an invasive plant that was first discovered in the mid 1980s, Eurasian watermilfoil. About $440,000 is being dedicated to Eurasian watermilfoil removal this year.
The fight to prevent invasive species from spreading hasn’t ended – and to be clear, it never will. It is the reason why New York State designates a week in the summer as “Invasive Species Awareness Week.” This year, it’s July 7 to July 13.
Invasive species are those that are non-native to an area, and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm to human health.
Lake George’s best defense has always been a three-pronged strategy that includes spread prevention, management and raising awareness – arming the general public with detailed information and encouraging them to change their behavior, both of which will lessen the danger of introduction or spread of invasives.
Spread prevention, of course, is the most prominent of the three – because of the Mandatory Boat Inspection Stations run by the Lake George Park Commission. (The Mandatory Boat Inspection Program was modeled after the LGA’s Lake Steward program). The LGA is paying $30,000 this year to support that invasive species spread prevention program.
Management is the most expensive – and the reason why we don’t want to have any more invasives in the Lake. Once an invasive is established in the Lake, it is very hard to eradicate – and the only way to control it is to create a management plan, like we have with the Park Commission and others to remove Eurasian watermilfoil, referenced above.
So the first prong, raising awareness, can really perform the biggest benefit – if we are vigilant and continue to share the information. So, please look at this list to see some specific ways you can prevent invasives from being introduced into the Lake.
The LGA is committed to the three-pronged strategy in order to protect Lake George’s water quality. As part of the state’s awareness raising week, the LGA will be at the Lake George Visitor Center to talk about invasives on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday that week, and will be hosting our public Floating Classroom programs on Wednesday.
We encourage you to stop by and say hello, and maybe learn a little about Lake protection at the same time!
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.
Kristen Wilde is the Education Director of the Lake George Association, whose members support water quality protection, scientific monitoring, education and lake friendly living programs that benefit the watershed from Lake George Village to Ticonderoga. Kristen has a B.S. in Environmental Science from SUNY Fredonia and has been with the LGA more than a decade.