Adirondack environmentalists have sometimes had a tough sell when it comes to preserving and protecting Adirondack forests because the region’s forests are so extensive and to all appearances safe from encroachment by developers or overuse by tourists.
It’s easier to convince the public of the necessity of working to protect Adirondack lakes. Even though we are blessed with an abundance of large, lovely lakes, you could not describe their number as an oversupply.
The demand for lakeshore property is great, and the interest in lake recreation of various sorts — fishing, boating, swimming, camping — is steady. Only a small portion of the public is interested in trekking into the rugged Adirondack backcountry, but just about everyone enjoys a swim in Lake George or a boat ride along its beautiful 32-mile length.
Lakes are the key to Adirondack tourism and the second home market, which means lakes are the key to the region’s economy. That means any effort to preserve the health and beauty of our lakes is worth considering, and even a large price is worth paying if it will lead to a qualitative improvement in a lake’s ecology.
“The economy and environment go hand in hand,” said Eric Siy, director of the Fund for Lake George, recently.
That generalization is not always true. When businesses or housing developments are blocked from Adirondack sites by the region’s strict zoning rules, it may be good for the environment but bad for the economy.
But when it comes to the more limited supply and more fragile ecology of Adirondack waterbodies, we agree with Siy: Protecting lakes helps the local economy.
Everyone recognizes the value of our lakes, which is why everyone is signing on to cooperative efforts to keep them clean.
As Post-Star reporter Amanda Metzger has detailed in recent stories, a consensus has formed among the region’s political and environmental leaders that now is the time to pour resources into preserving the water quality of Lake George and other Adirondack bodies of water.
With help from the state and other Lake George groups, the Lake George Park Commission ran the first of a two-year boat-washing program last year, inspecting nearly 20,000 boats at six stations for invasive species.
The program was such a success that civic leaders from around the Adirondacks want to expand it to 20 more stations around the park placed near popular lakes and busy entry points.
A new group called Adirondack Lakes Association is bringing together dozens of small associations around the park that represent lakeshore property owners to work on lake management cooperatively.
“Prevention is key here. Prevention is a lot less costly than it is once you have an invasive and are trying to control it. So prevention becomes a key way to try and do something positive here,” said Ed Griesmer, president of Loon Lake Association.
Each lake association has worked, until now, on its own provincial concerns. But the lakes have an enemy in common — invasive species — and coordinating their efforts to prevent their proliferation will be more effective than each association waging its own fight.
It is encouraging to see so many regional groups signing on, but the state will be the most important partner in the fight against invasive species, because only the state has enough money to undertake a broad-based, sustained effort.
Regional cooperation of the sort happening now will be critical to persuading state officials to invest in a parkwide program. As important as Lake George is to the region’s economy, an effort limited to Lake George may not be considered a state priority.
A united front presented by Adirondack politicians and environmentalists in favor of an aggressive, annual effort to beat back the advance of invasive species will convince state officials to sign on, too.
Invasive species do not concentrate their efforts to survive and multiply on certain towns or counties. They spread without regard to borders, and we must fight them in the same way — regionally.
Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Publisher Terry Coomes, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle, Controller/Operations Director Brian Corcoran and citizen representative Susan Stone.