Through September, the Lake George Park Commission’s boat inspectors have surveyed more than 35,000 boaters and vessels, placing 2023 on track to become the inspection program’s busiest year since New York State established it nearly ten years ago.
According to Justin Luyk, who supervises the program, trailered motorboats are the primary vectors for the spread of aquatic invasive species and nearly 500,000 of them are registered in New York State alone.
This year, Quagga mussels have been among the invasive species intercepted, Luyk told the members of the Lake George Park Commission’s monthly
meeting, held in Bolton Landing at the end of September.
Had technicians failed to inspect and decontaminate the boat, another ecosystem-altering invasive species might have established itself in Lake George.
“The discovery of the Quagga mussels is significant because we don’t have them in Lake George and we certainly do not want them, so we’re pleased that we were able to intercept them,” Luyk said.
Inspectors have also found eurasian milfoil, zebra mussels, asian clams and water chestnut on boats and trailers this year, said Luyk.
The number of inspections conducted at Million Dollar Beach rose this year, after dropping by 7% in 2022. One source of the additional boats at the state-owned site may have been Dunhams Bay, which was open only on weekends through Labor Day and which and saw very few boats.
Because of the decline in the number of boaters launching at Dunhams Bay, the inspection station at that site will not re-open in April, 2024, said Luyk.
“We will redistribute the resources among other the other stations,” said Luyk. For the second consecutive year, the Lake George Park Commission
has been operating an inspection station on Lake Champlain’s South Bay, giving the Lake George Park Commission the ability to inspect boats headed to either Lake George or Lake Champlain.
According to Luyk, Lake Champlain is known to currently host 51 invasive species. “Operating there gives us the opportunity to interact with boaters
who may not be reached on Lake George and enable us to educate them about the importance of abiding by the ‘clean, drained and dry’ standard and avoid transporting invasives from Lake Champlain to neighboring waterbodies,” said Luyk.
New York State shares the costs of the Lake George inspection and decontamination program with the Warren County Board of Supervisors, the Village of Lake George, the Towns of Bolton, Queensbury and Lake George and the Lake George Association.
According to the Lake George Association, Lake George is currently infested with six known aquatic invasive species: two aquatic plants, Eurasian
watermilfoil and curly-leaf pondweed; three mollusks: Zebra mussel, Asian clam, and Chinese mystery snail; and one crustacean, Spiny water flea.
Left unchecked, invasive species can degrade the lake’s water quality, impede recreational activities, and outcompete native plants and animals, impacting property values and the region’s lake-based tourism economy, the LGA stated.
The Lake George Park Commission began requiring boats to be clean, drained and dry before launching in Lake George in 2014. Since then, no new invasive species have established themselves in Lake George, thanks largely to the Commission’s mandatory inspection program.
According to Justin Luyk, the final report for the 2023 program will be released later this year or in early 2024.