The mandatory boat inspection program on Lake George is expected to launch next month, and staffing the sites, outreach efforts and early certification for local residents are all part of ramping up before May 15.
The Lake George Park Commission has started a “frozen boats” program, which allows local residents who have had their boats stored in the region for the winter to have the boats certified as invasive-free in advance of the boating season, allowing them to bypass a visit to an inspection station as long as they have an intact seal.
“The whole idea is that with any boats left outside during winter, there wouldn’t be any viable live invasives on that boat,” Lake George Park Commission Executive Director Dave Wick said. “We have thousands of boats around the watershed that need to launch and we want to get them sealed ahead of time to take a lot of pressure off the inspection sites early in the season.”
The Lake George Park Commission’s mandatory boat inspection and boatwashing program calls for all trailered vessels to be inspected for aquatic invasive species and decontaminated if necessary at a boatwashing station. The program, ratified by the Lake George Park Commission in January after years of discussion about a growing invasive species problem in the “Queen of American Lakes,” will begin May 15.
All trailered vessels, which includes Jet Skis and WaveRunners. are required to be inspected for invasive species and decontaminated, if necessary, before launching in Lake George. Many vessels are stored throughout the region, and the park commission has contracts with the storage centers for getting them certified through the frozen boats program. The commission is also working with local representatives in each of the municipalities on Lake George to administer the program.
More information, including contacts for each municipality, are listed on the program’s website, which went live this week: http://www.lgboatinspections.com/.
The park commission has also been reaching out to regular boaters who may not be aware of the new program. Information is being placed at Thruway rest stops, some out-of-state areas are being targeted with radio advertising spots and people who have boated on Lake George for the past couple of years have received the park commission’s newsletter.
Six inspection stations are staged at various launch locations around the lake, and they will be staffed by “inspection technicians.” The Lake George Park Commission has received between 60 and 80 applications for those positions, and interviews start next week, with training later this month, Wick said.
The six inspection stations will be located at the two state-owned launches at Mossy Point and Rogers Rock, Norowal Marina in Bolton, a Lake George inspection station on Transfer Road near Northway Exit 21, Dunham’s Bay launch in Queensbury and Huletts Landing Marina on the east side of the lake.
The inspection site in Huletts Landing will be open when the marina is open, and the rest of the inspection sites are expected to have varying hours, which are listed on the program’s new website. Generally, the other sites will open between 6 and 8 a.m. and close at 8 or 9 p.m.
The S.A.V.E. Our Lake Partnership, made up of local government and environmental leaders, has proposed a plan to staff the two busiest launches at night when the trained inspectors aren’t on site. Discussion between park commission officials and the committee members are ongoing, but the idea is that “night monitors” or lake stewards would be stationed at the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Rogers Rock and Mossy Point launches at night, collecting data about the number of people attempting to launch vessels during the program’s after-hours.
Opinions have differed on how much of an overnight presence is necessary, but members of the committee are adamant a human presence is needed to collect data and serve as a deterrent to any late-night launchers. The committee has said it would fully fund that aspect of the program.
“Those are the two places of greatest concern from our perspective,” said Eric Siy, executive director of the Fund for Lake George, about Rogers Rock and Mossy Point. “Unless there are eyes on those launches, particularly during the start-up stage, we’re not sure how vulnerable they are to uninspected boats.”
The town of Chester launched its own mandatory boat inspection and boatwashing program for Loon Lake last year, which will restart May 15, the same day the Lake George program kicks off. The town has ordered tags for boats similar to the ones that will be used on Lake George, Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe said.
The town for more than a decade has dealt with Eurasian milfoil in Loon Lake, and last year launched the mandatory inspection program to stave off further spread of invasive species. Town officials are working with the only private marina to refer to the inspection station any boaters whose vessels lack tags, Monroe said.
This year’s mandatory inspection program on Loon Lake will run through Oct. 15, and the inspection station will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“It seemed to work fine,” Monroe said of the first year of the mandatory inspection program at Loon Lake. “We didn’t have any problems.”