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Boaters warned to avoid hitchhiking pests

Lake stewards will be on duty all summer at Saratoga Lake, performing courtesy inspections.

Lake stewards will be on duty all summer at Saratoga Lake, performing courtesy inspections. Photo by Julie Cushine-Rigg.

— “Wherever light can still reach down to the plants, it can grow. It’s definitely a shallow area and depends a lot on turbidity (water clarity).”Typically, the littoral zone is sandy and is up to 12 feet deep.

“We want to know how many people are taking steps to clean their boats because of invasive species. That gives us an idea of where we need more education. We’re recording the type of watercraft, if they take preventative measures, what those measures are and where they came from. It’s a priority to look at boats that have come from Lake George, because Lake George has bigger problems than we have here,” said Redling.

Redling and Rickman greet boaters as they approach the launch and perform a “courtesy inspection.” Usually, this opens dialogue about invasive species and then the pair can point out spots on boats and trailers likely to be carrying the pests.

Popular areas for the buggers to hide include “any sharp metal edges like license plates and crossbars,” according to Rickman.

“If they haven’t talked with us here, they’ll say ‘I was just at Lake George last week and we talked with stewards there.’ … Even if lakes aren’t part of the program, they’re having their own stewards and come up (to Paul Smith’s College) for the training,” said Rickman.

The tracking of boat traffic in and out of the lake gives scientists the ability to “connect the dots,” said Rickman. From there they can construct a map with Saratoga Lake at the center depicting travel among the lakes.

“If something shows up here, it helps track the movement of anything that might be traveling on boats,” said Rickman.

The stewards also ask boaters where they’ve been and if they clean their live wells and bilges (sub-floor areas on the boat that takes on water). Many may not be aware of just how small zebra mussel larvae are, for example.

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