June 19, 2013

Stewards battle invasive species

PAUL SMITHS — The Watershed Stewardship Program at Paul Smith’s College is in full swing.

As of Memorial Day weekend, 22 monitors had returned to boat launches and docks throughout the Adirondacks to look for invasive plants and animals.

The stewards, who are mostly college students from institutions around the country, will remain on duty through Labor Day.

This summer, the program will protect three major recreational areas: Saratoga Lake; the Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake region; and the Fulton Chain of Lakes in the Old Forge area.

A $299,976 grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will pay for the work at 16 sites, while lake associations and the Saratoga Lake Tax District will support others.

Stewards inspect boats, canoes, kayaks and other craft entering and exiting the water to ensure that invasive species, such as Eurasian watermilfoil or spiny waterflea, are not clinging to the vessels.

The inspections are voluntary but highly encouraged.

“Aquatic invasive species are often impossible to eradicate once they become established in a waterway,” Eric Holmlund, director of the Watershed Stewardship Program, said in a news release.

“This is why we emphasize spread prevention techniques that all boat operators must adopt in order to stay ahead of the problem.”

In 2012, the Watershed Stewardship Program’s 26 stewards inspected more than 24,000 boats and taught nearly 50,000 people across 24 sites about invasives.

The stewards removed 2,965 organisms, both invasive and non-invasive, from boats entering or leaving boat ramps.

Stewards be stationed on these sites: Upper St. Regis Lake, Lake Placid, Lake Flower, Rainbow Lake, Osgood Pond, Saratoga Lake, White Lake, Hollywood Hills, Fourth Lake, Limekiln Lake Campground, Seventh Lake, Eighth Lake Campground, Raquette Lake Village, Burke’s Marina, Forked Lake Campground, Long Lake, Stillwater Reservoir, Cranberry Lake, Tupper Lake, Chateaugay Lake, Meacham Lake and the St. Regis Canoe Area.

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