GRANVILLE -- Washington County supervisors panned a Warren County push to crack down on access to Lake George on Thursday, a day after state officials declared the war on the invasive Asian clam lost and that no mandatory boat-washing program will be in place this year.
Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson called for support from fellow members of the Intercounty Legislative Committee of the Adirondacks for various proposals that would see local governments limit boat access to Lake George.
But Dickinson’s proposals — including calls for the counties to try to ban access to transient boats in 2013 and requests for funding from neighboring counties — didn’t sit well with the more populist Washington County delegation.
“To all of a sudden say ‘We’ve got a crisis and stop putting boats in the lake’ is ridiculous,” said Bob Banks, supervisor of the lakeside community of Dresden. “They (Asian clams) came in by someone dumping their goldfish or something. They didn’t come from boats.”
Banks said the Warren County-wide anxiety over the quickly spreading clam in Lake George — and the threat of other invasive species in nearby water bodies — is nothing more than a fundraising campaign by local environmental groups.
“They always need a cause so they can fund their six-figure salaries,” Banks said.
Argyle Supervisor Bob Henke, a retired state Department of Environmental Conservation officer, said private launches aren’t the pathway for stowaway invasives, Lake George’s boat delivery services are.
“Our fallback position is we close the lake down to outside boats for 2013 so we can get organized for 2014,” Dickinson said, noting DEC’s disapproval of the Lake George Park Commission’s boat-washing proposal. “We only want to save the lake. If we have to go to some extreme measures to do that, we should.”
Some local officials have questioned the county’s legal ability to try shutting down access to Lake George or any other public waterway.
Dickinson, one of several Warren County supervisors who staunchly supports the Park Commission proposal, was stunned by the push-back.
“It depends on how serious you are about protecting your resource,” he said. “I don’t understand the lackluster response on this.”
Dickinson is also calling for a one-quarter of a percent boost to Warren County’s sales tax to fund the program. Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Kevin Geraghty said he doesn’t believe there’s support among his peers for the sales tax increase.
Serious discussions about limiting or controlling access to lakes throughout Warren County have been ongoing for months. Washington County supervisors, meanwhile, battled the Lake Lauderdale Association for public access to the small lake in Jackson.
And the chasm between the neighboring counties widened further when cash came up.
“We’ve come up with half-a-million dollars so far to combat the Asian clam,” said Ralph Bentley, supervisor of the Warren County town of Horicon, referring to local municipal contributions to the Asian clam battle.
Washington County supervisors want no involvement in funding a battle with the invasive clam.
“We’re about as broke as I can remember us being,” Henke said.
Washington County’s public distaste for the proposed local effort came the day after DEC and the Park Commission announced there will be no state-run boat-washing program in 2013. DEC has in the past openly panned the idea.
The boat-washing proposal is all but dead without DEC support.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo instead authorized $250,000 from the Environmental Protection Fund on Monday for local educational and a Park Commission/DEC long-term invasive plan.
The joint state agency announcement concedes the Asian clam war is essentially lost, and that the hermaphroditic mollusk is officially part of the local ecological landscape.
Park Commission Dave Wick said Wednesday that it’s now “unlikely” Asian clams will ever be eradicated from Lake George. He said the two environmental regulatory bodies hope to draft a dual-agency plan to hold other invasives species at bay.