The Upper Saranac Lake (USL) Watershed Stewardship Program is an integrated aquatic invasive species (AIS) spread prevention program that seeks to reduce and/or prevent the spread of AIS in the USL watershed. This is accomplished directly by inspecting individual watercraft and removing plant and animal materials, and indirectly by raising public awareness of AIS concerns. The 2020 report summarizes data collected by the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI).
The Upper Saranac Foundation (USF) is pleased to partner with AWI and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Adirondack Park-wide Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program in these important AIS spread prevention efforts.
“It’s a concern of ours that watercraft arrive at Upper Saranac Lake from a wide range of previously visited water bodies, many of which have a high abundance of AIS,” USF Lake Manager Guy Middleton said. “Without the last line of defense from our stewards, our lake is vulnerable to AIS invasions — some potentially more harmful than milfoil.”
USF continues to advocate for the state to renew and strengthen the Invasive Species Transport Law that provides education and outreach, and ensures that the message gets through to all residents and visitors about AIS dangers.
The 2020 report includes the following key points:
- The USL Watershed Stewardship Program includes coverage at two DEC 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 180 days of stewardship coverage — a decrease from 2019. The decrease can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and stewardship coverage not beginning until after the July 4 opening of the campground.
- Stewards inspected 3,835 watercraft and educated 7,809 visitors about AIS ecology and spread prevention measures.
- Stewards intercepted 15 watercraft carrying AIS that were either launching or retrieved. The percentage of boats found with AIS has generally been decreasing. The biggest fluctuation was the decline in the number of watercraft with AIS being retrieved from Fish Creek.
- Data retrieved from stewards at the Fish Creek launch indicated there was an 85% less chance of AIS found on boats being retrieved from 2017 to 2020. This is attributed to USF’s Fish Creek AIS Harvesting Management Project.
- The number of visitors reportedly taking measures to prevent the spread of AIS prior to arriving has generally been increasing. In 2020, 76% of boaters using the launches showed prevention awareness.
- The location of previously visited waterways varied significantly by location. Watercraft entering USL were often return traffic and more local, whereas Fish Creek attracted boats from further distances. The wide range of previously visited water bodies indicates that the Upper Saranac watershed, without stewardship coverage, is vulnerable to AIS invasions from a diverse number of water bodies and by a variety of AIS.
- In 2020 a total of 200 AIS hot-water, high-pressure decontaminations were performed at the Back Bay launch.
The Watershed Stewardship Program is part of a larger watershed protection program, developed by USF, that uses a combination of AIS prevention, monitoring, management, control activities, and education to inhibit AIS spread.