Invasive species are nothing new to Lake George.
“They are alien invaders,” said Eric Siy, executive director of The Fund For Lake George. “I liken them to biological terrorists.”
“They can completely take over the water body and cause problems with water quality and recreation,” said Dave Wick, the executive director of the Lake George Park Commission.
The first invasive plant and animal species was discovered in Lake George in 1986. Ever since, its been an expensive struggle to stop them from spreading, and from keeping new species out.
“Eradication with some of these species is just not an option,” Siy said.
“For example, Asian clams, in three years alone we have spent over $2 million trying to address that,” Wick said.
This week marks the first phase of a new effort officials believe will have a real impact. Fifty technicians are undergoing intense training to properly identify the species and exterminate them from incoming boats.
The training was organized by the Lake George Park Commission and paid for by a $10,000 grant from The Fund For Lake George
“We're teaching them how to kill and remove any invasive species from the vessel,” said D Davis, a contractor from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission who’s facilitaing the training.
The four days of training comes less than one month before the lake's mandatory inspection program goes into effect. Every boat entering Lake George from public and private launches must pass inspection.
“It makes it illegal to launch an uninspected boat in Lake George, that's the big thing,” Siy said. “This is now the law.”
“This is the first real strong prevention effort east of the Mississippi [River] in terms of a mandatory inspection program,” Wick said.
With an annual price tag of nearly $700,000, the program is co-funded by the New York State Environmental Protection Fund and local municipalities and non-profits.
“There's no fee tied to this,” Siy said, referring to the impact on boaters.
“We have six regional inspection stations that boaters need to go to before they launch on Lake George,” Wick said.
Inspected boats will be outfitted with a special tag. With millions of dollars already spent, many view this as vital to the lake's future.
“We feel it's the best investment we have ever made on behalf of Lake George protection,” Siy said.
The mandatory boat inspection program on Lake George goes into effect on May 15.