A new boat inspection and cleaning system meant to bar aquatic invasive species from getting into Lake George got off to a quiet start Thursday.
“It was all systems go and everything working smoothly,” said Eric Siy, executive director of the Fund for Lake George, an advocacy group, who visited two of the six washing stations around the lake. “I didn't see any lines and all the boaters were cooperative.”
It was less than ideal weather to get onto the lake, with cloudy skies that threatened rain much of the day, conditions that might have discouraged some boaters.
Dave Wick, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission, said, “It was slow as we expected on our first day.” He said between 20 and 30 boats were likely to have been inspected and launched by the end of Thursday. “We expect that we will be ramping up for heavier traffic this coming weekend.”
Wick said that the park commission issued inspection exemptions to about 3,000 boats that had been stored in marinas around the lake during the winter, as well as to another 800 boats that were kept parked outside around the lake by their owners. Winter storage and freezing temperatures would have killed lingering invasives from the previous season.
Inspection and washing stations are located at the Norowal Marina in Bolton Landing, Dunham's Bay in Queensbury, Exit 21 in the town of Lake George, Mossy Point State Park in Ticonderoga, Rogers Rock State Park in Hague, and Hulett's Landing marina in Dresden.
Some two years in the making, the program makes Lake George the first lake in the state — and the only lake east of the Mississippi — with controls over boat launches meant to prevent invasive species from being inadvertently introduced. Lake George has five invasive species and the goal is to keep more from getting in.
One invasive, the Asian clam, has cost localities more than $1.5 million in an unsuccessful effort to control it since it was found three years ago. Clams breed quickly and can foul shallow waters, which could damage tourism potential. Millions of dollars have been spent to combat Eurasian water milfoil, the first such species to reach the lake in 1986.
The inspection and launch rules apply to all 86 public and private launches at the lake. Operators of launches without inspection stations must check that boaters have proof of inspection, and bar from launching those who don't. People who launch uninspected boats face a potential fine of up to $500.
The S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership represents public and private leaders — including municipal officials, conservation groups, scientists, and businesses — around Lake George and has committed to paying half the annual cost of the prevention program, estimated at more than $350,000 for each of the next two years.