JACKSON -- Washington County supervisors moved Tuesday to open up Lauderdale Park to boat-launching in the hope that it will spur the state Department of Environmental Conservation to again stock Lake Lauderdale with tiger muskies.
The county Board of Supervisors Government Operations Committee unanimously voted to open a boat launch for kayaks and canoes on the site, with Argyle Supervisor Bob Henke taking the lead on what is quickly becoming a controversial local issue.
“Everyone likes their own little pond,” said Henke, a jab at the Lake Lauderdale Improvement Association, a lakeside homeowners association that controls one-third of the shoreline.
Washington County leases a substantial amount of the state’s shoreline, an area that constitutes Lauderdale Park.
DEC stopped stocking Lake Lauderdale in 2009 with tiger muskies, a hybrid of northern pike and muskellunge, after the homeowners association lobbied against the stocking program.
The association contends the muskies were decimating Lake Lauderdale’s panfish population.
But Henke counters that it’s really an issue of politically influential second-homeowners demanding exclusive access to the lake, even though two-thirds of the shore is state-owned.
“It just burns me up that someone who doesn’t live there eight months a year can go to Albany, talk to some politician, and have stocking stopped,” said Henke.
Henke is a retired DEC conservation officer.
Association member Clara Hunt, who has recently contacted the Post-Star regarding the issue, wasn’t immediately available on Tuesday for comment.
DEC typically doesn’t stock waterbodies that don’t have public access.
DEC stopped stocking Trout Lake in Bolton with trout because of a similar standoff between a homeowners association and local anglers.
In a 2009 letter to the Lake Lauderdale Improvement Association, the then-DEC commissioner, Alexander “Pete” Grannis, said the state stocking program at the lake was being halted because the muskies were interfering with the association’s annual children’s fishing derby.
County officials said Tuesday there was a handshake agreement between the county and the association 25 years ago, when the county park opened, that would ban boat-launching from the site.
“I guess the association literally took them at their word,” said county Building and Grounds Superintendent Harrison Steves.
County supervisors seemed to be preparing on Tuesday for some pushback.
“This has certainly been a hot potato,” said White Creek Supervisor Bob Shay.
County officials hope DEC will begin again stocking muskies in Lake Lauderdale next year.