The Upper Saranac Lake (USL) Watershed Boat Launch Stewards intercepted aquatic invasive species (AIS) 15 times last summer, preventing the spread of these threats. They conducted 3,936 surveys and decontaminated 186 high-risk watercraft with high-pressure hot-water treatment. The Stewards discussed AIS spread prevention with 7,795 launch users and surveyed them about their spread prevention practices.
Ninety-two percent of users surveyed said they take spread prevention measures to clean, drain, and dry their watercraft, trailer, and equipment. This percentage has steadily been increasing since the initiation of the program in 2014, which indicates that the public is getting the message.
One of the most successful accomplishments is supported by data retrieved from the Stewards at the Fish Creek launch. Stewards found that there was a 92% less chance of AIS found on boats being retrieved or taken out of the water from Fish Creek from 2016 to 2021. This is attributed to USF’s six years of AIS harvesting management in Fish Creek Campground.
The Watershed Stewardship Program is an integrated 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 2021 report summarizes data collected by the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI).
The USL Watershed Stewardship Program includes coverage at two New York State Department of Environmental Conservation boat launches: Upper Saranac Lake at Back Bay and Fish Creek Public Campground. An AIS decontamination unit is positioned at the Back Bay launch.
“It’s a concern of ours that watercraft are coming to 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.”
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.