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.

— “Essentially, you’re taking in water while you’re out on the lake and you don’t know what’s in that water. Larvae from zebra mussels are almost microscopic … if you do not drain your live well after coming out and you go to another lake, in that bucket compartment in the boat you can be storing larvae from zebra mussels,” said Redling.

Rickman said they ask boaters what other waters they’ve traveled within a two-week time period prior to visiting Saratoga Lake. Most invasive species can survive two weeks and then re-sprout in other lakes.

While managing all invasive species present in Saratoga Lake is at the root of the stewardship program, controlling Eurasian watermilfoil specifically has been a top priority for many years according to Lori Severino, press officer for NYSDEC.

“Mechanical harvesting was funded through SLPID for many years, and in the late 2000s the management focus shifted to the use of aquatic herbicides. A portion of the lake was treated with Sonar (fluridone) in 2007,and with Renovate (triclopyr) in 2009 and 2010. … These treatments significantly reduced the Eurasian watermilfoil levels while largely maintaining the native plant populations,” said Severino in a statement.

Al McCauley is SLPID’s commissioner representing Saratoga Springs. He said that the organization operates on a four-year cycle to address the milfoil that involves harvesting.

“It’s like cutting the grass. … We do one-third, one-third, one-third and then a spot check. This year we’re at the spot check point of the cycle,” said McCauley.

Rickman and Redling are generally on duty at the boat launch every day from 7 a.m. through 4 p.m. and are willing to answer any questions boaters may have.

Rickman, 21, of Ballston Spa graduated in May from SUNY ESF (Environmental Science and Forestry) with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. Redling, 20, of Waterford is entering his junior year at Paul Smith’s College where he is studying Natural Resource Management and Environmental Studies.

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