LAKE GEORGE -- Two more populations of Asian clams have been discovered in Lake George, and the skyrocketing price tag for controlling the invasive species has at least one local official considering a trip to Albany to lobby for cash.
Surveyors from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Darrin Freshwater Institute and the Lake George Association found two small Asian clam colonies late last week - one in Norwall Marina in Bolton Landing and another near the Treasure Cove Resort in Diamond Point.
The finds come on the heels of last month's discovery of a 5-acre Asian clam population in Boon Bay in Bolton. Before that, local officials and environmentalists had hoped the Asian clam population found last year in the South Basin was an anomaly.
"This is obviously going to increase the expense of the project," said Walt Lender, executive director of the Lake George Association.
Throughout the spring, the Lake George Asian Clam Rapid Response Task Force - a collection of state regulators, local officials and environmental protection groups, planned an outright eradication of the South Basin population. But cash ran short, and the planned suction harvesting process was scrapped. Subsequently, a $500,000 project, using only mats designed to suffocate the algae-causing mollusk, was used.
The task force is reporting a 97 percent kill rate at the South Basin site with just the mats. But without a 100 percent kill rate, the hermaphroditic species could again take hold. At least an additional $200,000 would be required to eradicate the South Basin population, the task force estimates.
The Boone Bay site is being described as very similar to its South Basin counterpart and could cost just as much to kill.
And with two half-acre populations discovered in other locations, lakeside municipalities won't be able to foot the entire bill.
"The state has really got to step up to the plate on this one," said Lake George Supervisor Frank McCoy.
The Lake George Park Commission did designate $75,000 toward the South Basin project, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation allocated another $25,000 in Environmental Protection funds.
But staring at an eradication bill that's likely to be in excess of $1 million, McCoy said it may be time to take the fight to Albany.
"I would think a contingent from Warren County should be going to Albany about this," McCoy said.
It remains unknown how many Asian clam populations exist in Lake George. Officials said the conclusions of an ongoing survey of the entire lake could indicate whether extermination is possible or if it transitions into a mitigation effort.
Task force members said a mitigation-style response could devastate Lake George's water quality.
Lender said communities in Nevada's Lake Tahoe area spend more than $1 million per year just to keep the clams from encroaching on the most environmentally sensitive areas.
The clams pump nutrients into the water, which in turn promulgates algae growth. Large algae blooms sap oxygen from the water, suffocating indigenous flora and fauna.