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For Release: Friday, June 7, 2013

Collaborative Effort Launched to Combat Aquatic Invasive Species on Lake George

Lake George Showcases Statewide Efforts to Protect Waterway Ecosystems And Highlight Impact on Tourism and Economic Development

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Lake George Park Commission (LGPC) today were joined by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Bill Owens, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state and local officials and community groups to launch a collaborative effort to combat aquatic invasive species (AIS), which threaten the ecosystems of New York's lakes and waterways that form the backbone of Upstate New York's tourism industry. The event was held in the Lake George region to underscore the joint efforts underway just this year, as New York State's $450,000 commitment toward eradication and prevention on Lake George has been augmented by $50,000 from EPA and at least $250,000 from the local entities.

"State, federal and local governments are partnering with community groups to address invasive species on Lake George. Such waterway-specific collaboration is vital as we confront similar invasive species issues across the State, from the Great Lakes to Lake Champlain to the Hudson River," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "As outlined in Governor Cuomo's recent tourism summit, we expect a robust tourism season as people come from all over to take advantage of the rich natural resources New York has to offer. Boaters must take steps to stop aquatic hitchhikers from impacting our environment and economy."

"Prevention of aquatic invasive species introduction is critical to the long-term vitality of Lake George's pristine water quality and the regional economy," said Bruce Young, chairman, Lake George Park Commission. "We are indebted to Governor Cuomo, local municipalities and our nonprofit partners who have brought this issue front and center through significant public outreach and financial commitment."

The groups gathered to note the prevention and eradication plans for the summer boating season and to emphasize the serious consequences of AIS infestations to the environment and to the local community. The members of the partnership focused on the integrated efforts at the federal, state and local levels to protect the Lake and other waterways from its devastating effects as well as educating the public on steps that can be taken to protect against the ongoing spread of invasive species.

Losses associated with both aquatic and terrestrial invasive species have been calculated at nearly $120 billion per year in the United States. In the New York State Canal and Hudson River system, an estimated $500 million in economic losses occur each year from at least 154 non-indigenous species; 80 percent of that loss is in commercial and sport fishing. Two invasive species have been discovered on Lake George over the last three years.

Under the direction of Governor Cuomo, DEC secured $450,000 to fight invasive species specific to Lake George and to support several initiatives this year, including:

  • Expanding the Lake George Association's boat steward program from May to September to provide additional protection during months when boat traffic is relatively high. The season previously ran from June to August.
  • Developing and implementing 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.
  • Increasing patrols by DEC Environmental Conservation Officers and LGPC officers trained in aquatic invasive species spread prevention. These officers will work the launches on a regular required basis.

Also, in support of efforts at Lake George, LGPC received $50,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to install two boat washing stations in Bolton Landing for use before and after boating on Lake George. The Lake George Association, the Fund for Lake George, the Town of Queensbury, Town of Lake George, Town of Bolton, Town of Hague and Village of Lake George have contributed toward the purchase boat washing stations and other efforts to prevent the spread AIS.

In April, LGPC issued a Draft Invasive Species Prevention Plan and Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate the efficacy and feasibility of aquatic invasive species spread prevention measures that may be employed in the Lake George Park. The DGEIS evaluates alternatives for AIS spread prevention including mandatory inspections of all trailered boats prior to launch, a boater self-certification program, as well as public outreach and voluntary compliance. Public hearings to consider the plan are underway.

Other Statewide Investments: From 2006 to present, DEC has spent $4.9 million directly on AIS eradication grants and projects across the state of which $4.5 million was funded by the Environmental Protection Fund and $194,000 is from the Conservation Fund. This includes $2 million for eradication grants, $1.46 million for Lake George through the Lake George Park Commission, $300,000 for water chestnut control in Lake Champlain, $283,000 for hydrilla control in Cayuga Lake inlet, $200,000 for northern snakehead eradication and $500,000 in Aid to Localities.

Also, state agencies have begun distributing information rack cards to educate boaters on preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. Together with the Department of Motor Vehicles, 40,000 inserts were mailed with boat registration renewals while an additional 1.5 million will be mailed by DMV or distributed by DEC at public events and other means.

Other activities undertaken by DEC and partners in AIS prevention include:

  • Posting signs at DEC boat access sites reminding boaters to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species by checking their boats and removing any plants and other debris;
  • Using boat stewards to inspect watercraft and deliver education and outreach in the Adirondacks, Finger Lakes and Eastern Lake Ontario regions; and
  • Implementing volunteer waterbody monitoring programs and engaging in public awareness via DEC's website.

The public can access the aquatic invasive species informational card on DEC's website:, by emailing Susan Waters at slwaters@gw.dec.state.ny.us or by calling 518-402-9148.

Update State's Aquatic Invasive Species Plan: Under the direction of Governor Cuomo, DEC will update New York's AIS Plan with a draft expected to be released for public review in April 2014. The plan, last updated in 1994, will examine AIS objectives and actions to prevent the introduction and spread of AIS in the state's waterways.

Federal Efforts: On the federal level, Senator Gillibrand has introduced legislation to strengthen the ability of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to address the threat of potentially invasive species by requiring an analysis to determine whether any non-native animal species have the potential to become invasive and harmful to the United States before they can be imported or enter into interstate commerce.

Public Awareness: Members of the partnership reminded boaters of the importance of ensuring boats, kayaks, canoes and any other boating devices are cleaned, drained and dried before entering new waters.

Specifically, the partnership provided simple instructions on identifying aquatic invasive species such as water chestnut, zebra mussels, Hydrilla, Eurasian milfoil and spiny waterflea which are too often spread by recreational boating. The informational cards, a template developed by the Lake George Association, also give guidelines for checking, cleaning and drying boats and equipment.

Clean, Drain & Dry Boats and Equipment: Today's partnership advised boaters and anglers to follow the guidelines below:

  1. Check your boat, trailer and other fishing and boating equipment for any plants or animals that may be clinging to it. Be sure to check bunks, rollers, trim tabs and other likely attachment points on boats and trailers.
  2. Clean boats, trailers and equipment of any debris, and dispose of it in an upland area or receptacle provided for this purpose. Note: It is now illegal in certain towns and counties in New York to launch or transport a boat that has not been properly cleaned of clinging plants and animals.
  3. Drain the boat completely, including bilge areas, live wells and bait wells. Water ski and wake board boat operators should be sure to drain all ballast tanks. Many aquatic invasive species can survive in as little as a drop of water, so it is imperative that all water is removed.
  4. Dry all equipment for at least five days before using it in another waterbody. Longer drying times may be required for difficult to dry equipment or during damp or cool periods. Recommended drying times for various seasons can be found on the 100th Meridian Initiative website (which can be found in the right hand column of this page). Drying is the simplest and most effective way to ensure equipment does not transport plants or animals.

If equipment cannot be completely and thoroughly dried, it must be disinfected prior to use in another waterbody. Various disinfection techniques and special techniques to clean boats previously used in zebra mussel infested waters are provided on DEC's website. For a listing of the aquatic invasive species that have been reported from publicly accessible state waters, visit the DEC boating access directory . More information on aquatic invasive species is available on the DEC's website.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, "From the Great Lakes to the Finger Lakes, and from the lakes and streams of the Adirondacks to the Hudson River, and every waterway in between, New York State is blessed with beautiful bodies of water. These vast natural resources help drive our economy, offer miles of recreation, attract tourists, and provide clean drinking water for millions of families. If we're going to protect these resources today and for future generations, we need to prevent the spread of invasive species. The announcement today of this federal-state-local partnership to add two new boat inspection and washing stations with $50,000
of federal funds from the EPA will leverage additional resources from the Lake George Park Commission, local municipalities and nonprofit organizations, to operate the stations. This funding is really great news for the future of Lake George. I applaud Commissioner Martens and the DEC, the Lake George Park Commission and the countless advocates and volunteers who work every day to keep Lake George a natural treasure."

Congressman Bill Owens said, "Invasive species pose a real threat to New York's natural resources and to small businesses that rely on fishing, boating and other activities to bring tourists into the region. This is a jobs issue as much as it is an environmental issue, and something I've dealt with on the St. Lawrence River, on Lake Champlain and on lakes in the southern part of the 21st district. We can do more to prevent the spread of invasive species and protect the scenic beauty for which New York is so well known. I applaud the work that's already been done to protect the region and look forward to working with all stakeholders to develop common sense solutions to these complex issues."

Joan Leary Matthews, Director of EPA Region 2's Clean Water Division, said, The EPA is pleased to help the Lake George Park Commission reduce the threat of invasive species with these boat washing stations. The EPA urges all boaters on Lake George to use these stations and become informed about what they can do to keep invasive species out of waterbodies."

Rose Harvey, commissioner, State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation, said: "We encourage boaters to be vigilant in their efforts to prevent the transportation of non-native plants and animals. It is so vitally important that before leaving a ramp or access point to always check and remove any visible plants or debris from the boat, engine and trailer. Draining, cleaning and if possible power-washing bilges, fish/bait wells, hulls and outdrives go a long way in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. We also remind those to never transfer bait between water bodies."

State Senator Elizabeth Little, chair of the Senate Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee, said, "Increased activity on our lakes and rivers is exactly what we want to see this time of year. Folks are eager to launch their boat or canoe and enjoy the water, but it is very important that they take the time and the steps to clean their boat to protect our wonderful natural resources from invasive species. Education and advocacy and, ultimately, personal responsibility is what it takes. I'm pleased to join Commissioner Martens, U.S. Senator Gillibrand and many others in stressing this important message."

State Assemblymember Dan Stec said, "As a local official and now in the State Legislature I've been working towards solutions to the growing Aquatic Invasive Species problem in our waterways. I'm pleased by the progress that we've made together and with this announcement today. More remains to be done, but I'm encouraged by the commitment to working together that I am seeing between Federal, State, local government and private community groups."

Robert Blais, Mayor, Village of Lake George, said, "This collaboration demonstrates the vital importance of efforts to address aquatic invasive species in Lake George and throughout New York. We are glad to have partners at levels of government and in the community to support our efforts."

Ron Conover, Supervisor of the Town of Bolton, said, "There is no more important issue facing the Adirondacks than combating the spread of aquatic invasive species. It will take the cooperative effort of all levels of government, private organizations and individuals to succeed in this effort."

Eric Siy, Executive Director of the Fund for Lake George, said, "Prevention and partnership are the twin tools urgently needed to stop invasive species from doing any more harm to Lake George. By uniting across sectors and levels of government, we are showing what it will take to win. The S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership of leaders around the lake is delighted to be working closely with state and federal officials to make sure we succeed."

Walt Lender, executive director, Lake George Association's Lake Steward Program, said: "We have been working to educate boaters on Lake George about stopping the spread of AIS through the Lake George Association's Lake Steward Program. We have also been working hard to develop outreach materials to support our efforts and to coordinate with other organizations across the state. The more consistent the message we all get out to the boating public, the better. We were pleased to be able to work with DEC in developing their recent statewide mailing through DMV."

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