As we witnessed this past weekend, Schroon Lake is already buzzing with activity. Watercraft of all types, swimmers at the Schroon Town Beach Sunday and fishermen out early, all "invading" our pristine body of water. Those are the “invaders” we want – not the invasive species that are already present -- chiefly Eurasian Milfoil -- and those that might be transported here on watercraft and their trailers.
Schroon Laker recently caught up with Jane Smith, The President of the East Shore Schroon Lake Association (ESSLA) to talk about the health of the Lake, the continued co-operation between ESSLA, The Schroon Lake Association (SLA) and the Paradox Lake Association (PLA) and what’s new and different his year.
The good news is that the combined efforts of ESSLA and the SLA being on top of removing Eurasian Milfoil over the last 15 years will hopefully mean less harvesting this year by the company ESSLA uses: AIM (Aquatic Invasive Management). The SLA uses the services of Lake Manager Steve LaMere.
Jane says ESSLA is looking forward to moving into "a maintenance mode" this year.
“We're kind of just waiting for the season to begin and we're enthused about AIM working on the lake this year. They're going to start in June and they're going to be on the lake five times or as needed because they feel this year we're going to be able to start in a maintenance mode.
“We’ve (the lake associations) been diligent for 15 years actually, so we don't have the problem that a lot of the other lakes have had, because it's been taken care of for so long".
Last year was a busy year for AIM. “They were able to cover the whole lake and take things a little more in hand -- so to speak -- because they cover the lake, they know the milfoil is there and what we deal with, but it should be good this year. It should be better".
Editor's note: This is the second year all three towns on Schroon Lake (Chester, Horicon and Schroon) are funding milfoil harvesting performed by AIM. The SLA & ESSLA do not contribute to this effort.
One of the big guns in the arsenal of weapons to fight Invasives is the lake steward program. Jane said both ESSLA and SLA are working together more closely together this year.
”We're going to try to coordinate better with the stewards on upper Schroon and lower Schroon this year. We're going to use grant money to try to have coverage seven days a week this year".
An issue that has received a lot of attention from boaters and various Adirondack lake associations is a crackdown on boat inspections on Lake George this year. Lake George will have its own boat and trailer washing station. (You can read the comments from Mark Granger, SLA President about the issues involved with running and maintaining a station here).
The close scrutiny by Lake George officials, fear some folks, will potentially bring boat owners -- not wanting to bother with boat washing stations -- to Schroon Lake.
“We feel that because we don't have boat washing stations yet, there's not much we can do except inspect the boats closely. We'll do that, we're able to do a few things with the DEC putting their restrictions into effect now.
But ESSLA is prepared. “We have a little more teeth, so to speak, to say to people: ‘The DEC says you cannot bring these Invasives in, you can't bring anything in on your boat. You have to have the bilges drained'.
“So we're happy that we have that sort of backing now. We'll be able to deal with the boats that come from Lake George or other places better”.
Jane expects the Warren County Sheriff’s Department will once again have a visible presence on the lake, enforcing the invasive rules, as well as looking out for the safety of all boaters.(The Warren County Sheriff also has jurisdiction on areas of the lake in Essex County).
“I know that the sheriff we had last year was at the southern boat launch a number of times. I kind of feel that the DEC may show a little more presence because the pressure's kind of been put on them through Lake George to be a little more aware. They did pass the regulations and they do know there's going to have to be some sort of enforcement. It won't be great, it won't be the best, but it'll be something. That's all we can ask for.
In the meantime, the best defense against Invasives species, continues to be public education and awareness programs. (On Sunday, e caught up with Schroon Lake Association members out in force at the Town Dock with volunteers educating folks.)
“What we find is that 98% of the boaters are willing to comply. That makes a difference. That's come from having stewards at the launches and educating people.
“We (ESSLA) will be at all of the craft fairs and every opportunity that we have. We have an exhibitor's committee and we go out to every public function that's going and to educate people. Actually we've been doing that for two or three years now and we have a couple of guys who really are good with people when they come by the booth, they explain what it’s all about.
“People are kind. They glance at first and walk away nodding their heads saying yes they've learned something. We'll continue to do that. That's been a really great way to educate people who may or may not even be using Schroon Lake but they're using Adirondack lakes”.
A topic on the minds of folks who follow lake matters are the mysterious algae blooms. There was one incident in Schroon and another in Paradox.
Is that something that we should all be worried about and what can we do about it?
“We are worried about it and we do a lot of our water testing through our volunteers. In doing so, there were people out all summer on the lake testing the water. AIM is also very good and vigilant in checking for everything. They're harvesting milfoil, but the year before last they found a clam that they thought was suspicious, took it, had it tested it, it was not. They do more than just harvest the milfoil. They're constantly looking for that sort of thing and very aware of algae bloom. I'd say it's being watched”.
As for the renewed commitment by all three lake associations to work together?
“The working together has been kind of new and different. To be able to share resources and to react to things that are going on right now is what we're basically doing.
Bill McGhie (from ESSLA) now runs the Steering Committee and his deputy is Paul Conolly (from SLA)"
While the future looks good, we all must "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 LakeAssociation and click here for the Paradox Lake Association. All three associations are non-profit 501(c) 3 organizations.