The Upper Saranac Foundation’s 2019 Watershed Stewardship Report is now available on the USF website: usfoundation.net.

The USF is pleased to be in partnership with the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College, Lake Champlain Basin Program, the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Adirondack Park-wide Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program in these important Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) spread prevention efforts.

The Upper Saranac Lake Watershed Stewardship Program is an integrated AIS spread prevention program seeking to reduce or prevent the spread of AIS from entering and departing the USL watershed. This is accomplished by inspecting individual watercraft and removing plant and animal materials, and indirectly by raising public awareness of AIS concerns. This report summarizes data collected by Adirondack Watershed Institute, Watershed Stewards for the Upper Saranac Lake watershed.

“The USF thanks the Lake Champlain Basin Program and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission for providing a grant to assist in our work to protect the watershed,” said Guy Middleton, USF’s lake manager.

“It is of concern that watercraft arrive to USL from a wide range of previously visited water bodies, most from water bodies that have a high abundance of AIS,” Middleton said. “Without the last line of defense from our stewards, our lake is vulnerable to AIS invasions, some potentially more harmful than milfoil.”

The Upper Saranac Foundation is continuing to advocate for the state to renew and strengthen the Invasive Species Transport Law that provides education, outreach, and ensures that the message gets through to all residents and visitors about invasive species dangers.

The report can be summarized in the following key points:

  • The Upper Saranac Watershed Stewardship Program includes stewardship coverage at two NYSDEC public boat launches: Upper Saranac Lake at Back Bay and Fish Creek Public Campground. An AIS decontamination unit is positioned at the Back Bay Launch.
  • Between the two launches there were a total of 202 days of stewardship coverage.
  • Stewards inspected 4179 watercraft, (an increase of 576 from 2018) and educated 8,229 visitors (an increase of 2004 from 2018) about AIS ecology and spread prevention measures.
  • Stewards intercepted 20 watercraft carrying AIS, that were either launching or being retrieved. This is a significant decrease from both 2017 and 2018 with 105 and 32 intercepts, respectfully. The biggest fluctuation was the decline in the number of watercraft with AIS being retrieved from Fish Creek.
  • Data retrieved from the stewards at the Fish Creek launch indicated there was a 73% less chance of AIS being found on boats retrieved between 2017 and 2019. This is attributed to the Fish Creek AIS Harvesting Management Project. Fish Creek Campground, once known as a major contributor to regional AIS spread, may no longer be considered a significant vector for AIS.
  • The location of previously visited waterways varied significantly by location. Watercraft entering Upper Saranac Lake were often return traffic and more local, where Fish Creek attracted boats from further distances. The wide range of previously visited water bodies indicates that the Upper Saranac watershed, without Watershed Stewardship coverage, is vulnerable to AIS invasions from a diverse number of waterbodies and by a variety of AIS.
  • The decontamination station was in operation 92 days. A total of 175 decontaminations were performed, averaging 1.9/day.

The Watershed Stewardship Program is part of a larger watershed protection program, developed by the USF, that uses a combination of AIS prevention, monitoring, management, control activities and education to inhibit AIS spread.

Click here to view the complete report 2019 Watershed Stewardship Report