Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute will be providing free boat inspections and decontamination starting Memorial Day weekend at nearly 100 locations across the region to help the public stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.
The Watershed Institute operates the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Adirondack Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Program to help the public observe New York’s Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention law which prohibits invasive plants and animals on boats launching into the state’s lakes, ponds and rivers. The program includes decontamination stations and boat inspection locations at popular boat launches throughout the Adirondacks.
Watershed Institute staff inspect boats, educate visitors about aquatic invasive species, and decontaminate any boat to meet the Clean, Drain, and Dry standard required by New York State.
The stewards working for the Watershed Institute’s Spread Prevention Program have been deemed exempt from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “New York State on PAUSE” executive order. The Institute is working with DEC and local medical professionals to provide guidelines and provide stewards with the necessary COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The stewards are also receiving training to protect themselves and the public from the threat of spreading Coronavirus while at the launches. The public can expect to see stewards wearing face masks, practicing safe social distancing protocols and taking other preventative measures to keep themselves and the visiting public safe.
The public should follow these important steps. Be courteous by wearing a face covering at the launches and while interacting with stewards. Next, maintain at least 6 feet of social distance between you and others. And finally, be patient. Launching and inspecting your boat for aquatic invasive species may take longer than normal due to social distancing and other challenges related to safety protocols.
A number of the inspection sites are located within New York State campgrounds which are closed until at least June 1. Until further notice, these inspection sites will not be in operation until campgrounds reopen. In addition, the Lake Flower boat launch, which is currently closed due to construction, will not operate as an inspection station. Further, a small number of decontamination stations will be delayed in opening.
However, the inspection and decontamination station at the Adirondacks Welcome Center on Interstate 87 northbound near Exit 18 in Glens Falls will be opened this weekend. This season marks the second year of operation here. Constructed and opened in 2019, the station provides easily accessible services and saves boaters time at launch sites. In 2019 this boat wash station decontaminated more than 400 boats, the highest of any boat wash station within the network, according to the Institute.
Each of the stewards are expected to receive a supply of disposable masks and two handmade masks that have been sewn by a local group which has organized to produce masks during the current Covid-19 pandemic. Tri-Lakes Community Makers is a group of 50 local women that have made close to 3,000 masks for front line health care workers and others in their region. They explored a number of designs, sourced materials locally, and donated their time to this effort. They produced nearly 250 masks within 8 days for the stewards.
The boat inspection and decontamination stations are cooperatively funded by New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund, US Fish and Wildlife Service-Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Lake Champlain Basin Program, numerous Lake Associations, private foundations, and municipalities.
Visit the program’s website for details about inspection and decontamination station location, information about aquatic invasive species ecology and steps the public can take to maintain the quality of New York’s waterways. The most up to date inspection and decontamination station location list will be available on Friday, May 22nd.
Photo of Adirondack Watershed Institute Lake Stewart provided.