Adirondack Explorer

Fortress Adirondack

Adirondack lake advocates want stronger state protections against aquatic invaders after boats carrying damaging species delivered some close calls in 2020.

Some even question whether New York’s regulators are doing enough to enforce laws already on the books.

Contractors and lake associations, who run boat inspection stations, say most boaters are happy to get their vessels checked, cleaned, drained and dried to prevent species transport. After all, the intention of the law, and the voluntary program supporting it, is to keep lakes and ponds clear of invasive plants and creatures that could ruin the natural ecosystem and mar activities such as boating and swimming.

Still, hundreds of boaters refuse inspections and cleanings, and stewards lack authority to force them.

Aquatic invaders can range from tiny mollusks to fish to weeds, and sometimes finding them on boats is a painstaking process. The time spent looking and cleaning can prevent the nightmares that some lakes are already enduring. Eurasian watermilfoil has grown into an underwater lawn in parts of Lake George and Schroon Lake, choking out native species and making it difficult to boat and swim. Removing it has become a decades-long effort costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Still, lake groups know they can never fully eradicate it.

An impatient boater

Schroon Lake in Warren County is about 9 miles long with two public boat launches. At the southern launch in the Town of Horicon last summer, boat stewards encountered a watercraft covered in zebra mussels.

The invasive

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