DEC, Lake George commission launch anti-invasives plan

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Lake George Park Commission have teamed up to battle invasive species in Lake George.

DEC and LGPC are planning a series of actions to prevent the spread and threat of invasive species such as Asian clams in preparation for the summer 2013 boating season. In addition, an environmental review of a comprehensive and long-term plan to address invasive species will begin shortly, the agencies announced Wednesday.

The short-term plan involves expanding the Lake George Association’s boat steward program from May to September. The season previously ran from June to August. DEC environmental conservation officers and LGPC officers trained in aquatic invasive species spread prevention will be conducting increase patrols and will work at boat launches on a regular basis. DEC and LGPC also will implement a more comprehensive outreach program to local and regional boaters who boat on Lake George on how they can reduce the risk of spreading and introducing invasive species.

The state Environmental Protection Fund will provide $50,000 to fund the lengthened boat steward program and additional outreach efforts.

The Park Commission will also receive $200,000 from the EPF to help contain and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species like Asian clams. Earlier this year the state provided the commission with $100,000 from the Aid to Localities fund and $100,000 from the EPF to help combat invasive species.

“While much has been done to combat this invasive species, we know more must be done and that is why Governor Cuomo has asked us to take immediate action as well as complete a comprehensive environmental review to determine how we can combat invasive species in Lake George,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a press release. “Invasive species present a risk to the ecosystem and recreational values of Lake George if the threat goes unabated. We are eager to begin this process as soon as possible.”

The long-term plan for protecting Lake George from invasive species will be ongoing. LGPC will develop a scope for an Environmental Impact Statement and invite public comment to ensure that all reasonable alternatives are considered in the EIS, including mandatory inspections and boat washing. The draft EIS will be subject to public review and comment. Following the comment period, a final EIS will be developed to determine the best course of action on how to prevent the spread of invasive species in Lake George.

The commission had pushed for mandatory inspections and boat washing this summer. The press release says the state Environmental Quality Review process must be completed before those steps could be implemented. It’s expected that the SEQR process will be completed by the end of the year.