With lake unfrozen, Cleverdale group urges, lock gates & inspect invasives all year; Wick: Not needed

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

The Lake Stewardship Group of Cleverdale wrote in its March newsletter, “We are very concerned about uninspected boats launching at the open, unstaffed DEC ramp at Million Dollar Beach in December, January, February and now March.”

“Lake George did not freeze this winter, except for some thin ice sometimes in some places,” allowing what amounts to year-round access to the Lake, they said.

Spokesperson Rosemary Pusateri told The Chronicle, “The risks to Lake George from new Aquatic Invasive Species [AIS] continue as long as there are gaps in the ‘Ring of Protection.’”

She wrote via e-mail, “The known AIS in Lake George are winter-hardy. In whatever way each species gets through winter, those invasive plants and animals survive and spread. It seems probable that another winter-hardy AIS potentially could hitchhike off-season on an uninspected, not ‘Clean.Drain.Dry’ boat.”

Contacted for comment, Lake George Park Commission Executive Director Dave Wick said, “The idea that July is the same as February in terms of aquatic invasive species transport vectors is simply not scientifically accurate…

“We set the inspection time-frame to coincide with the vast majority of risk to Lake George, which is May 1 to October 31.” He said “just to be extra safe” it was expanded to run from April 15 through November, “until almost Thanksgiving, or we get a snowfall or the land decontamination units start to freeze.”

Mr. Wick said the small bodied organisms that will develop into invasives such as zebra mussels or Asian clams “don’t tend to spawn until a minimum of 55 degrees. In April the water is much colder than that. Right now we’re at about 43 degrees in Lake George.”

“The only risk,” Mr. Wick said, would be boats coming from “much farther south,” like Virginia, “almost unheard of because nobody comes for recreational boating on Lake George til mid- to late May.”

The Cleverdale group said its volunteers saw vehicles and boat trailers at Million Dollar Beach from as far away as Washington state and Indiana. “We believe it is better to err on the side of caution because the stakes are so high….It’s far, far cheaper to prevent than to mitigate.”

Mr. Wick calls it a question of risk management. “The state of New York does not have the resources to manage and inspect 24/7, 365 days a year,” he said.

“Trust me, as many people as there are saying we need to lock it down, there are other people saying, ‘Are you freaking kidding me? The state of New York is paying that guy and he hasn’t moved out of his chair all day long.’”

The state Department of Environmental Conservation, contacted by The Chronicle, said it “is not considering steps to further restrict access to this boat launch.

“DEC recognizes the importance of protecting against aquatic invasive species while providing access to public waterbodies. Restrictions to public access are not taken lightly.

“While no law…prohibits boats from launching on Lake George from Nov. 2 through April 30,” state laws do require boats be “cleaned, drained, and dried” & “free of visible plant or animal matter.”

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