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Milfoil survey

David Wick, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission, holds a sprig of the invasive Eurasian watermilfoil found in Lake George on Sept. 5. 

The state is investing about $2.8 million to combat invasive species, with nearly $190,000 of that going toward the Capital Region.

The Lake George Association, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the town of Lake Luzerne and the town of Ballston all received funding for projects through the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s invasive species grant program, which is funded by the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.

“New York state is leading the way in invasive species management to ensure our environment remains sustainable, healthy and strong,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a news release.

The Lake George Association received the most funding locally, with $78,575. The association will staff stewards at two boat launches — Hague Town Boat Launch and Gull Bay Public Beach and Boat Launch in Putnam.

While the Lake George Park Commission requires boat inspections to launch on Lake George, inspectors are not at municipal launches, according to the Lake George Association.

“The reason why this grant is so important to Lake George is that the municipal launches in Hague and Putnam are not inspection sites but must be staffed when they are open in order to ensure that boats being launched have inspection seals,” said Kristen Wilde, education director for the association, in a news release. “This grant will pay the towns for the boat launch stewards, who will confirm that boats have been inspected before launching and will provide exit inspections of boats leaving the launch.”

Stewards will also look for and remove any plants or animals attached to boats and trailers, drain standing water from boats and educate boaters on invasive species.

While not specific to Lake George, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute received $78,134 in funding for the development of a tool that could help keep boaters from spreading invasive species.

Jeremy Farrell, a research scientist at Darrin Freshwater Institute, said he and his partners are developing a model that could help boat inspectors predict what invasive species might be hitchhiking on a visiting boat.

The model is currently using data collected on Lake George from 2014 to 2018. Boat inspectors often ask visitors questions like what water body they last launched their boat in, information that could help inspectors decide whether a boat needs “a little extra care when washing it,” Farrell said.

The work is in conjunction with Marc Frischer from the University of Georgia’s Department of Marine Sciences.

“Our goal is to make really significant progress with it,” said Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, associate director of the Darrin Freshwater Institute.

It isn’t clear when the model may be ready for prime time on boat launches across the state, but the more data fed to the model, the smarter it gets, Farrell said.

The state also gave funding to the town of Lake Luzerne to create a management plan.

Supervisor Eugene Merlino said the $13,000 from the state will go toward paying the Darrin Freshwater Institute and some other stakeholders, who will help survey Lake Luzerne.

The town is currently managing the invasive species, Eurasian watermilfoil. Merlino said the town uses suction harvesting to keep it under control. To pursue other management opportunities, Merlino said, many grant applications require a management plan.

“We’re hoping this gives us the opening for more grant money to do a better job,” Merlino said.

The town of Ballston received $19,635 for a management plan of Ballston Lake.

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Reporter Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (518) 742-3238 or gcraig@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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