Under a new state law passed earlier this year, anyone operating a boat or other motorized watercraft must clean it before launching into a body of water in the Adirondack Park or in any of the lakes in the 10 miles surrounding the park.
The Great Sacandaga is one of the various lakes that fall within the requirement.
The initiative is the latest in an effort by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to prevent the spread of invasive species.
“Once an aquatic invasive species is introduced into a new water body, it is incredibly difficult or nearly impossible to eradicate it and because of that we put a large focus on prevention as the preferred and best way to avoid some of those problems,” said Josh Thiel, the invasive species coordination section chief for the DEC.
A pressure washing station at the Broadalbin Boat Launch is one of four the state Department of Environmental Conservation has along Great Sacandaga Lake to ensure boaters clean, drain and dry their vessel before launching. The other three locations are in Northville, Northampton and Edinburgh.
At the four locations, people can receive a certificate saying they cleaned their boat. Thiel said if someone launches from a private dock or at an area without a steward, they can still print and fill out a certificate stating they have cleaned, drained and dried their watercraft.
“It’s just an enhanced sort of level for us to sort of document that boaters are doing the right thing and complying with the clean, drain [and] dry requirements,” he said.
While DEC spokesperson Lori Severino said phasing in the enforcement portion of the certificates is in progress, people can still be issued a ticket for not having one.
“There are additional patrols, particularly on busy holiday weekends, checking for certificates and educating the public,” she said.
She did not indicate how much fines associated with a ticket cost.
Great Sacandaga Lake Association (GSLA) President Edward Ludlum said they had supported efforts over the years to preserve the lake.
“Statistics show that lake stewards show about 10% of the boats inspected need additional cleaning before they actually launch into the lake,” Ludlum said. “The program is not only important for boats coming into the lake, but also for boats leaving the lake. We don’t want to send any invasive species elsewhere.”
There are currently two invasive species in Great Sacandaga Lake: Curly-leaf Pondweed and Eurasian Watermilfoil. Invasive species can harm the ecosystems in bodies of water and make it hard for recreational activities, Thiel said.
Ludlum said it will be a while before they can tell whether the certificate requirement will actually help.
“My pontoon boat was inspected at the launch ramp when it hit the water this spring, but no certificate was issued,” Ludlum said.
The new requirement began in June, according to the DEC’s website.
“For the GSLA the jury is out on the online self-inspection certificate,” he said. “The Great Sacandaga Lake Association supports most any effort to promote education and knowledge that will help prevent the spread of invasive species.”
Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at ByBriere.