(EDITOR'S NOTE: IN AN EARLIER VERSION OF THIS STORY WE MISIDENTIFIED THE PRESIDENT OF THE PARADOX LAKE ASSOCIATION. OUR APOLOGIES TO MARCIA HARTNETT.)
”It’s like saying to someone you are two paychecks away from bankruptcy, You know we are one summer away from becoming a Saratoga Lake.”
How bad a shape is Saratoga Lake in?
"They basically harvest milfoil with an underwater lawn mower. They can’t remove it any more. They are never going to get rid of it,” Mark said.
“Look at Eagle Lake, Lake Luzerne, there are a lot of bad stories out there. We have succeeded in stopping the downward spiral.
“The success began more than 15 years ago when all lake associations got on board with getting rid of Eurasian Milfoil.
"If we had not rallied people, and not spent the money for years on this, and had not gotten (certified Lake Manager) Steve LaMere involved, we'd be in very different shape right now. Now we have to do is maintain and work back fewer and fewer milfoil sites”
And the biggest concern of the associations right now, says Mark, is the potential threat from new restrictions placed on boaters in Lake George, which could have a direct impact on Schroon and Paradox Lakes.
“At Lake George they are going to have their boat entry always blocked if they are not manned. We don't do that, we can't do that".
Besides it’s own Eurasian milfoil problem, Mark says Lake George is battling four other invasives: Asian clam, zebra mussels, curly leaf pondweed and spiny water flea. And he doesn’t want boats from lake George bringing those invasives to Schroon or Paradox.
"Basically my big concerns is that when Lake George imposes its limits it's going to drive people to Schroon and Paradox.
Mark’s worst fear? “We are going to have people come in at 5 am without washing their boats. We will have someone there at 6 am because that's what we can afford. You know so much of this is common sense, but you have people who fish Lake George, Schroon lake, Lake Champlain all in the same week, maybe even on the same day, and if they are going in with wet milfoil on their boats or wet water chestnuts it's not good."
So what’s the solution for Schroon? “We will eventually need a wash station. Let me give you pictures of what the cost kinds of issues are for a portable self-contained wash station, with heated water to wash off the boats, are roughly $60,000.
"But the cost of maintaining it, having it run by knowledgeable people and storing it is another $100,000 for a total of $160,000 in the first year. That's a staggering cost to a town like Schroon Lake. That's $100 each for every full time resident. It's just not going to happen, the town can't pay it, so where is that (money) going to come from? We will do some fundraising but I'm hoping the DEC gets involved.
“Part or the problem is we are all fighting for the same money. I think everyone acknowledges that the lake quality is key to the survival of the town”.
In the meantime, education is the best weapon the associations have. "We are probably going to do a more sophisticated campaign, we do awareness campaigns at various functions, last year we had three public education events, we teach about invasives at the boat safety course”.
Mark says the Schroon Lake Association will spend $20,000 on improving the lake quality this year.
“The town doesn’t spent that much, that’s why we’ve been working hard to get donations and get people out and understand what we are doing.”
And helping those efforts is the renewed spirit of co-operation between all three lake associations – something that wasn’t always present.
"We definitely have improved relations with ESSLA. Three years ago Jane Smith (President) and I sat down with Mike Marnell (Schroon Supervisor). We were both new presidents and we said: ‘Okay -- enough!’
"Now we go to each other’s meetings and all three presidents of ESSLA, SLA and the Paradox Lake Association (president Marsha Hartnett) -- we have lunch together, share information, and do projects together. We all are going to jointly train the lake stewards this year. We've got Bill McGhie (from ESSLA) running the Steering Committee and his deputy is Paul Conolly (from SLA) and there's cooperation there. The future looks good, but we all have to be vigilant.”
For more information about the associations, and to find out how you can support each one: Click here for the Schroon Lake Association, click here, for the East Shore Schroon Lake Association and click here for the Paradox Lake Association. All three associations are non-profit 501(c) 3 organizations.