Watershed Stewards stationed at Back Bay on Upper Saranac Lake recently intercepted and prevented curly-leaf pondweed and zebra mussels from entering the lake. A boat coming from the St. Lawrence River was found to be carrying the invasive pond-weed and a boat from Keuka Lake, one of the Finger Lakes, had zebra mussels attached to it. Neither curly-leaf pondweed nor zebra mussels are native to the United States and not currently in Upper Saranac Lake.
Watershed Stewards have been on duty since the Memorial Day weekend, greeting boaters entering the watershed. These trained stewards perform free AIS inspections of watercraft entering and exiting the lake. Vessels and equipment that have the potential to spread aquatic invasive species (AIS) are decontaminated. Stewards also work to increase awareness of the environmental hazards introduced by invasives and inform boaters of how they can stop their spread.
Similar to Eurasian watermilfoil, Curly-leaf causes problems due to excessive growth. It grows from the shore to water depths of 15 feet, and can grow up to 15 feet tall. It tolerates low water clarity and will readily invade disturbed areas. Zebra mussels have sharp shells that adhere to surfaces, causing damage to water structures and the native ecosystems. They are prolific invaders that have the ability to spread quickly within a waterbody. An individual female mussel can produce more than one million eggs in a single spawning season.
In 2021, the Upper Saranac Watershed Stewards inspected 2,609 watercraft, and intercepted seven boats carrying AIS.
In addition to Upper Saranac Lake, there are numerous decontamination stations located around the Adirondack Park providing opportunities to have boats cleaned. Boaters who will be visiting the Adirondacks over the summer are encouraged to utilize this free service prior to getting to their final destination. Locations and hours of operation for boat wash stations can be found here.
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. According to the Adirondack Council, nearly 90% of boats heading into the Adirondacks bypassed this inspection station over the 2020 Memorial Day weekend.
Funding for the Upper Saranac Lake Watershed Stewards comes from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Adirondack Park-wide Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program and from donations to the Upper Saranac Foundation. Visit our website to learn more about the Watershed Steward Program.