Inspecting boats a hot topic on lake
Wednesday was a fine day to be at the top of Prospect Mountain, sunny and almost warm, with Lake George spread panoramically 1,700 feet below the summit.
But the buzz among those gathered to hear about a new state land acquisition was less about spring, or even the purchase of Thomas and Cat mountains in Bolton, than about something that happens down at lake level: boat inspections.
The Lake George Park Commission has initiated plans to make the lake the first in the state — and one of few in the nation — to mandate inspections of boats coming from other bodies of water, to block the introduction of any more of the invasive species that plague the lake, like the Asian clam and Eurasian milfoil.
But a mandatory inspection system won’t be in place before 2014 at the earliest — and if there’s enough public outcry, it may not happen at all. Perhaps American freedom means being free not to wash your yacht.
For this year’s boating season — which will start when the chilly spring finally eases up — recreational boaters can look forward to an expanded system of voluntary boat checks. The park commission and state Department of Environmental Conservation have agreed last year’s single voluntary inspection station will be expanded to four, to be located at various boat launches around the lake.
Also, the Lake George Association’s boat steward program — which blends inspection and education — will start in May and run through September, rather than focusing only on the June-to-August peak marine boating season. Plus, there will be increased patrols by DEC and park commission officers trained in preventing the spread of aquatic invasives.
The park commission received $200,000 from the state Environmental Protection Fund to help contain and prevent the spread of invasives. The fund is also providing $50,000 for the longer boat steward season and to pay for additional outreach efforts.
Every year, about 15,000 boats and 3,300 docks are registered at the lake, with fees going toward lake protection efforts. Boats and docks starting this year can be registered with the park commission online at www.lgpc.state.ny.us.
Andy Fyfe, stewardship coordinator for Saratoga PLAN, the land conservation group, is leaving to become a special assistant to Rose Harvey, commissioner of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Fyfe was always unafraid to get his shoes grimy in looking after PLAN’s 27 preserves, though he’ll no doubt have fewer such opportunities in Albany — depending on your definition of mud, of course.
“We’re excited to welcome a person of Andy’s caliber to the team,” said Randy Simon, a state parks spokesman.
PLAN, which is based in Saratoga Springs and manages 3,400 acres of preserved land, has begun looking for a replacement for Fyfe. They will have big, if not muddy, boots to fill.
Stephen Williams is a Gazette reporter. The opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. He can reached at 885-6705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.