S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership Comments on Proposed Regulations for Mandatory Boat Inspections

Press Advisory: The following statement was presented at the Lake George Park Commission Public Hearing regarding draft regulations to require watercraft inspections for aquatic invasive species. The S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership has publicly expressed its intent to match State funding for the urgently needed Mandatory Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Plan upon working with the Commission in finalizing the Plan's provisions to a satisfactory resolution of any and all outstanding concerns, including the acknowledged need to close the after hours “loophole” as noted.

For more information: Bob Blais, Village of Lake George, 518-668-5771, or Chris Navitsky, Lake George Waterkeeper, 518-668-5913

February 24, 2014

Mr. Edward Woltmann
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233

 

Re:      Proposed Rule Making to amend 6 NYCRR Part 59 and Part 190.24 Public Comment

 

Dear Mr. Woltmann:

The S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership is pleased to be submitting the technical comments below on the proposed New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Regulations for Mandatory Watercraft Cleaning to prevent the transport and spread of invasive species pursuant to the Public Notice in the January 8, 2014 Environmental Notice Bulletin. S.A.V.E. represents public and private leaders—including municipal officials, conservation groups, scientists, and businesses—who have committed to paying half the cost of the Lake George Park Commission’s comprehensive AIS prevention program over the next two years.

Given the gravity of the invasives threat, progress on Lake George should spur similar actions statewide. The proposed DEC regulations that would prohibit the launching of boats (both trailered and car top) at any state launch facility that are not “clean and drained” mark an important first step. It must, however, be accompanied by a comprehensive prevention system such as now being established on Lake George that will make New York State a model for the nation.

Our specific comments are as follows:

  1. Regarding Part 59, Section 59.4(b)1, the intent of the regulations is supported but it is not clear how they can be enforced to ensure compliance.
  2. Under Part 59, Section 59.4(b)2, the regulations states “No person shall launch, or attempt to launch a watercraft from a state boat launching site, a fishing access site, or any other site from which a watercraft may be launched, or leave from these sites without draining the watercraft, including bilge areas, livewells, bait wells and ballast tanks, unless a written permit is obtained from the department.”  There should be restrictions regarding requiring a watercraft to drain.  Draining a watercraft that could be contaminated with invasive species near a water body could result in the introduction of an invasive to the water body.  The regulation should specify that watercraft must be drained in designated drain areas determined by the Department.
  3. In the Regulatory Impact Statement Section 2 Legislative Objectives, it states “Due to the difficulty of removing zebra mussels and quagga mussels from boat hulls, a special allowance will be granted by permit to individuals removing seasonally moored or docked watercraft from a zebra or quagga mussel infested waterbody at the completion of the boating season for cleaning at the location of storage.”  This raises the following questions:
    • Who will be granting the permit?
    • What conditions and restrictions will be placed on the permit – i.e. length of permit, time requirement to wash watercraft, etc.
    • This assumes that storage locations will have cleaning facilities.  Who will verify the storage facilities will have cleaning facilities?
    • Who will check the permits of watercraft leaving a waterbody?  
  4. In the Regulatory Statement Section 4 Costs, it states there will be no cost to DEC or local governments.  How can this program be effectively enforced without any increase in personnel and/or costs?
  5. In practical consideration of expected costs involved, there should be reference to the need for complementary measures providing for boat owners to have their boats inspected and, if necessary, washed. Such measures are integral to success. Furthermore, consideration of potential means for funding a comprehensive program, including the proposed regulation must be identified and pursued

In closing, the S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership supports the NYSDEC’s recognition of the serious negative impacts of aquatic invasive species and the need for preventive measures to protect the vital water resources of New York State.  But it is our opinion the proposed measures will not provide the level of prevention required without amendments to the proposed regulations and necessary funding.

Honorable Robert Blais, Mayor of the Village of Lake George

Chairman, S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership

 

SIGNED ON BEHALF OF THE FOLLOWING PARTNERSHIP MEMBERS:

 

Honorable Ron Conover, Town of Bolton Supervisor

Honorable Dennis Dickinson, Town of Lake George Supervisor

Honorable Fred Monroe, Town of Chester Supervisor

Honorable John Strough, Town of Queensbury Supervisor

Jeff Killeen, Chairman, The FUND for Lake George

Eric Siy, Executive Director, The FUND for Lake George

C. Walt Lender, Executive Director, Lake George Association, Inc.

Christopher Navitsky, Lake George Waterkeeper

   

 

Related Programs