Lake George is known as the “Queen of American Lakes”, and is one of the foremost natural treasures in the United States. It is one of the clearest large lakes in the world, and is a popular tourist destination for visitors from around the world. In 1988, the NYS Legislature established the Lake George Park Commission as a state agency to help protect Lake George for the future, while maintaining the resource as a high-use recreational lake for its millions of annual visitors.
One of the greatest threats to Lake George comes from aquatic invasive species. Invasive species are plants or animals which are not native to the region, and can cause significant ecological and economic impact to a waterbody. Currently, Lake George has five invasive species present in its waters. To date, more than $7 million has been spent working to control and eradicate these invasives, and this costly work is likely to continue into the foreseeable future.
The primary mechanism whereby invasive species are introduced into waterbodies is through boating. When boaters leave a waterbody and trailer their boat to another waterbody, there is a chance that plants or other invasive species may be on the boat or the trailer. Some of the most concerning aquatic invasive species are non-detectable to the eye in their juvenile form, and can reside in the bilge area or even in the coolant water in the engine. When the infected boat is launched into a new waterbody, that species gets introduced into that waterbody and the problems begin.
With unanimous support from the nine municipalities around Lake George, the Commission voted to put a new regulatory program forward to require the inspection of all trailered boats prior to being launched into Lake George. This program follows similar successful efforts in many states and key waterbodies out in the western U.S., particularly Lake Tahoe.