Press-Republican

July 4, 2013

County mandates boat inspections

BY LOHR McKINSTRY Press-Republican
Press-Republican

---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — Only one person spoke at a public hearing on an Essex County law to prevent the spread of invasive species in Lake George.

The Essex County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing this week for a local law mandating that everyone using a public boat launch on Lake George is required to inspect and wash their watercraft at a designated wash station.

One station will be placed at Mossy Point State Boat Launch Site in Ticonderoga, the only public launch on Lake George in Essex County.

Penalties for violation are a $500 fine for first offense and $1,000 for a second conviction. Local police agencies would enforce the law.

SUPPORT VOICED

Lake George Association Executive Director Walter Lender was the sole speaker on the proposed law.

“I wanted to make a brief remark in support of the legislation. We’re pleased you wanted to take this up. Invasive species are a threat in all the waters of Essex County.”

Essex County’s law would allow self-inspection of boat hulls and trailers.

OFFICIAL INSPECTIONS

But much more controversial is the Lake George Park Commission’s proposed rule that an official boat inspection by certified personnel would be needed before launching on Lake George.

Public comment on that regulation closed last week, and the commission is expected to vote on the rule at its meeting later this month.

The Park Commission rule would mean someone who wants to go fishing or boating on the lake could do so only when an official boat inspection station is open, and none will be available around-the-clock.

The only out would be to have the inspection done the day before, then launch at whatever time was desired to avoid waiting for the inspection station to open the next day.

FEES COVER COST

The cost of setting up the inspection system has been put at $300,000 and the annual operating costs at $700,000 for staff and equipment.

The cost would be funded by a doubling of boat-registration fees that would raise $550,000 annually. Boat owners would also be charged a per-season fee of about $40 for inspections.

Officials have said 2014 is the earliest a mandatory inspection system could be put into operation.

Lender said that fighting invasive species like Asian clams or Eurasian milfoil is very expensive.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to pass the invasive species law for Lake George after the hearing.

“This is a major issue,” Lender said after the hearing. “I’m glad to see Essex County taking it seriously.”

Non-native invasive species can damage a fragile eco-system like Lake George, he said.

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com