Editor’s Notes: Lake George in Decline? It’s Relative
The Adirondack Explorer magazine has a well-researched and reported article in its current issue about the politics of the Lake George Park Commission. Unfortunately, the title given to the piece – Decline of Lake George – was predictable, and predictably misleading.
We’ll wait for the release later this summer of a study by the Darrin Fresh Water Institute and The Fund for Lake George analyzing trends in water quality over the past thirty years before making such glib pronouncements ourselves. “Without that kind of information we are subject to supposition, accusation and hearsay,” says Dr. Charles Boylen of DFWI, who has directed the studies. What the studies will probably show, says Peter Bauer, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George, is that “While Lake George continues to have some of the highest water quality in New York and in the eastern US, large parts of the lake have shown trends of changing, most notably at the south end.” No doubt. But not all downward trends are irreversible. If that were the case, state and local governments, conservation organizations and private individuals would not have committed millions of dollars to restoring the wetlands at the mouth of West Brook. When completed, the project is expected to treat most of the urban runoff polluting the south basin.
The development that the article faults for “large deltas and algal blooms” took place over the course of a century, not over night, and remediation will not take place over night. (And by the way, are we the only ones who never saw “the entire southern basin of the lake blanketed in algae (that was) prevalent all over the lake,” as a source for the article claimed?) We are in complete agreement that poorly regulated development is the greatest threat to Lake George’s water quality. (Northern Lake George, where development is limited, was declared the clearest water body in New York State last summer by the New York State Federation of Lakes.) Lake George, however, is in a better position than any other lake in New York State to meet those threats. That’s not only due to the authority of the Lake George Park Commission, whose penchant for moderate rather than radical progress may be due to a lack of resources, and not to a lack of political will, as its critics claim. It’s also due to the commitment to the protection of Lake George shared by local governments, businesses and not-for-profit organizations – a coalition whose like is not seen anywhere else in the Adirondack Park. Lake George, like every oligotrophic lake, will ultimately decline and morph into a eutrophic lake. But thanks to actions taken today, it will not happen in our lifetimes or for generations to come. Compared with other lakes, the decline of Lake George is relative indeed.