The 2020 Fish Creek Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Management Project Report is now available.
The report summarizes the data and program highlights for the Fish Creek AIS Management Project (FCAISMP) from the program’s inception in 2016. This project was made possible through funding from donations made to the Upper Saranac Foundation (USF) and through a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Adirondack Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Program.
USF and its partners, the Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) at Paul Smith’s College, and the Invasive Solutions Dive Company are pleased to demonstrate another successful year of AIS management at Fish Creek Campground, and for the first year upstream of the Campgrounds tributary.
The intent of this program is to combat invasive species to improve water quality and maintain native species in their natural habitats, ensuring the sustainability of our natural public resources for future generations. Removal and control of AIS in the Upper Saranac Lake watershed at Fish Creek protects downstream waters from infestation and helps prevent the export of AIS to non-infested waters. The program protects economic value through recreation, tourism, sportsmanship, and second home ownership by providing clear, weed-free waterways.
The report includes project activities that can be summarized in the following key points:
- USF developed a plan to manage AIS in Fish Creek Campground and seek funding to cover the estimated cost of the project. The goal was to restore the 108 acres of littoral campground waterfront, in addition to preventing AIS from infesting downstream and regional waters.
- To implement the FCAISMP, a fundraising campaign initiated by USF raised over $60,000 in donations. Additional funding was awarded to USF in the amount of $100,000 from the DEC Invasive Species Rapid Response and Control Grant.
- Three years of initial intensive management began in 2017 and concluded in 2019; 2020 was the first year of the maintenance phase of the FCAISMP funded entirely by the USF.
- USF contracted AWI to provide independent monitoring, evaluation, and reporting of AIS control efforts in Fish Creek Campground. Plant surveys comparing AIS concentrations indicated a 92% average AIS stem density level decrease from 2017 through 2019.
- In 2020, USF invested $17,375 into 300 diver hours. The divers harvested 675 pounds of invasive milfoil from within the campground’s ponds — Upper Fish Creek and Square ponds.
- In 2020, USF expanded the FCAISMP upstream of the campground bridge and boat launch, up to the AIS containment booms. An additional $13,900 was invested into 240 hours of dive time. A total of 3,763 pounds of AIS was removed between the campground bridge and the containment booms.
- Since the initiation of the FCAISMP, 51,707 pounds — 25.85 tons — of milfoil has been removed from the campground and its tributary.
- Watershed Stewards stationed at the campground boat launch inspecting boats have found significantly less AIS. Over a five-year period, there has been an 85% reduction in AIS on watercraft being retrieved from the launch.
- There are continued indications that management efforts are effective: through camper’s comments relative to the reduction of nuisance aquatic vegetation, and with the reduction AIS found and harvested from year to year.
- In 2019, AIS containment booms were placed just upstream of the Fish Creek Campground boat launch to prevent fragmented invasive plants from floating downstream and being introduced into managed areas within the Campground and further downstream into Upper Saranac Lake. In 2020, over 3,000 pounds of AIS were removed from the containment booms.
The FCAISMP 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.