Before their session ends tomorrow, state legislators have the opportunity to take protective steps against invaders that threaten our lakes.
Not only is the health of Lake Champlain and other area water bodies at stake, but so is the enormous economic stimulus they provide.
Anyone who has been paying even the slightest amount of attention knows that invasive species are endangering our lakes.
The threat we first heard about was zebra mussels. If you lived by Lake Champlain or did any swimming and boating in it, you may have experienced a sharp reminder — literally — of their impact. Those small, rapidly spreading mollusks caused cuts on swimmers’ feet, clogged water pipes and created many other problems that were visible to even occasional users of the lake.
Even more important, invasives like zebra mussels throw off the ecological balance of our waterways, affecting fish and other wildlife.
Other invasive names have become familiar to people around here, too: Eurasian water milfoil, hydrilla, Asian clams and quagga mussels.
Allowed to grow unrestricted, these attackers will cause irreparable harm to our environment. That, in turn, will make our lakes less appealing for fishing, swimming, boating and the other recreational pursuits that make life here a slice of heaven — and bring tourists and money to the region.
Some regulations have already been established to fight invasives, which are spread mainly by motorboats that traverse our lakes.
New State Department of Environmental Conservation regulations require boaters to remove all visible plant and animal materials from boats, trailers and other equipment and to drain them before launching from DEC boat launches and other state property.
But that doesn’t contain invasives that may be carried on boats launched from private land.
The legislature is considering legislation to prohibit, from any public or private boat launch, the transport and launching of boats with visible plant or animal matter or standing water. It would require that boats be clean, drained and dry.