Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) Watershed Stewards stationed at Back Bay on Upper Saranac Lake recently intercepted and prevented Zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil from entering the lake. It was unknown where the boat carrying the Zebra mussels was prior to arriving at Upper Saranac Lake (USL) but the boat carrying milfoil came from Lake Champlain.
Neither Eurasian watermilfoil nor zebra mussels are native to the United States and are considered invasive. Their introduction can cause environmental harm to the watershed, economic damage to property owners, and potentially be a risk to human health. While milfoil is currently already in USL, following an aggressive and costly management campaign, it is now considered a rare plant in the lake. Zebra mussels are not currently found in the watershed.
USL Watershed Stewards have been on duty since Memorial Day weekend at Back Bay and Fish Creek Campground, greeting boaters entering the watershed. They will be stationed at these launches through Columbus Day weekend. The stewards perform free aquatic invasive species (AIS) inspections of watercraft entering and exiting the water. Vessels and equipment that have the potential to spread AIS are decontaminated. Stewards also work to increase awareness of the environmental hazards introduced by invasive species and inform boaters of how they can stop their spread.
Eurasian watermilfoil causes problems due to its excessive growth, choking out water bodies, impacting recreation, and decreasing property values. It grows from the shore to water depths of 15 feet. Zebra mussels have sharp shells that adhere to surfaces, causing damage to water structures and the native ecosystems. An individual female mussel can produce more than one million eggs in a single spawning season. Both are prolific invaders that have the ability to spread quickly.
In addition to USL, there are numerous decontamination stations located around the Adirondack Park providing opportunities to have boats cleaned. Boaters visiting the Adirondacks are encouraged to utilize this free service prior to getting to their destination. One of the most prominent inspection and decontamination stations is located at a critical entrance to the Adirondack Park: Interstate 87 at the Adirondack Welcome Center rest stop in Queensbury. Locations and hours of operation for all boat wash stations can be found at adkcleanboats.com.
Funding for the USL AWI Watershed Stewards comes from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and is supplemented through a $20,000 grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program in a collaborative effort with the Upper Saranac Foundation (USF), the Town of Santa Clara, and AWI.
Visit our website to learn more about the Watershed Steward Program: usfoundation.net/programs/watershed-stewardship-program.