This editorial appeared in The Lake George Mirror.
Last year, for the first time in ten years, no aquatic invasive species were discovered in an Adirondack lake as yet untouched by this modern scourge, the Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) reports. That’s an affirmation of the value of the Adirondack Park-wide inspection and decontamination program that New York State created in 2015, inspired by the success of the Lake George Park Commission’s invasive species prevention program. But neither program’s managers or crews should relax their guards. Within days of the release of APIPP’s report, the Lake Champlain Basin Program announced that the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department had found evidence that a non native baitfish, Gambusia affinis, or mosquito fish, was being used by ice anglers on Lake Champlain. And not long before that, an ice fisherman reported a masssive alewife die-off in a lake where the species had never been seen. As Eric Siy, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George frequently reminds us, invasives that have yet to reach Lake George surround us. The difference between a lake with chronic but manageable invasive species problems such as ours and one that’s past praying for could be a single bilge or bait bucket. Anyone who complains about the costs or inconvenience of invasive species prevention programs – and that includes some employees within the state’s own Department of Environmental Conservation – should, on occasion, be reminded of that fact.