Environmentalists say state too slow to start boat inspections on Lake George

Posted at: 01/09/2013 5:17 PM
Updated at: 01/09/2013 6:06 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

LAKE GEORGE - The mats and sandbags placed at Lake George's Shepard Park are to stop the spread of Asian Clams---one of the invasive species that's found it's way into this lake in recent years, threatening to muddy the crystal waters and keep tourists away.

"We have five invasives now," said Dave Wick, Executive Director of the Lake George Park Commission. "We want to keep it from getting any more."

The Lake George Park Commission, which is a state agency, has studied the problem for months and they're recommending a solution: Boat inspection and washing stations at five places around the lake. Every boat that launches would have to be inspected.

"The inspection would be between five and seven minutes and if the boat didn't pass inspection, it would require decontamination," said Wick.

But the DEC and the Governor haven't embraced the idea. At least not as fast as environmental groups would like.

They and some local elected leaders say the time to act is now, before the invasives problem gets worse.

"We're very concerned about Lake George. We feel it's at a critical point right now," said Councilwoman Marisa Muratori of the Lake George Town Board.

"We're looking for the Governor and the DEC to give the park commission the go-ahead to start this pilot project," said John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council.

The environmental groups say the inspections won't cost state taxpayers a dime, they say they'll be paid for by higher boat and dock fees.

The Park Commission says boat fees on Lake George would increase about 30 or 40 dollars a year to pay for the stations.

"We're talking about folks that are making a significant in the first place. We don't believe that the added couple of dollars for inspection will really be noticed."

A consortium of five environmental groups wants a mandatory inspection program in place for this year's boating season. Wick calls that time timetable "too aggressive" and hopes to get all stakeholders---including the Governor and the D.E.C---on board in time for the 2014 season.