Lake George Association Reviving Stewards’ Outreach Program
From 2008 through 2013, the Lake George Association’s Lake Stewards inspected more than 32,000 boats, removed 490 aquatic invasive species samples from boats and discussed threats posed to the lake by invasives with more than 75,000 boaters.
The organization’s Lake Steward program ceased after the summer of 2013, replaced by inspectors retained by the Lake George Park Commission to prevent boats carrying invasives from being launched on Lake George.
But according to Walt Lender, the LGA’s executive director, the need for public education has never diminished.
“Our Lake Steward Program raised awareness about invasive species, brought the issue to forefront for the Lake George community and lead to the development of the Lake George Park Commission’s mandatory inspection and decontamination program. The mandatory inspection program is very successful, and has to be made permanent. But the inspection technicians and boat washers are not trained in public relations or education – that’s what the Lake George Association does,” said Lender.
To add an educational component to the effort to control the spread of invasive species, the Lake George Association will re-introduce a modified Lake Steward program this summer, said Lender.
The program will be directed by Kristen Rohne, the LGA’s Director of Education, Lender said.
According to Rohne, the program will hire two stewards and arrange for their training at the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College.
“On busy weekends, they will be assigned to one of the boat washing stations around the lake, where they’ll talk to boaters. They’ll also be available to distribute information and speak with the public at events throughout the watershed. Public outreach is an element that we think is missing from the current program, one that we think the LGA can provide,” said Rohne.
The Spiny Water flea is among the invasive species that will receive attention from the LGA’s education program, said Rohne.
A half-inch-long barbed flea that poses a long-term threat to established fish populations, the invasive was discovered by the LGA at the north end of the lake in July, 2012.
According to the LGA, no strategy for controlling or eradicating spiny water flea has been found; boaters and anglers must therefore be reminded to clean and inspect their fishing gear and boats before entering and leaving water bodies.