Keeping it clean, drained and dry


I spent most of the week before Memorial Day weekend at Paul Smiths College at their Adirondack Watershed Institute training. I learned about the ongoing efforts to keep non-native aquatic plants, animals and microorganisms from migrating into our pristine lakes and waterways. They come by way of boats transported from waters where unwanted invasive species may already be prevalent.

Lake stewards at various boat launches in the region inspect boats and question boat owners about where and when their boats were last in the water. Decontamination boat wash stations, such as the one across the road from the Caroga Town Hall offer courtesy washes and decontamination of boats free of charge.

While some aquatic invasive species are pretty obvious as nasty, green, weed-like vegetation such as Eurasian milfoil hanging from an outboard motor prop, full-gown zebra mussels or mature water chestnuts on a boat hull, many are not. The early stages of the just mentioned items and tiny Spiny Water fleas as well as microorganisms are not always visible to the naked eye.

The solution? Have your boat get a courtesy wash at one of the local boat wash stations. It’s quick, easy and free!

A “hosing down” at home won’t have the same effect as a hot water, pressure wash at a boat wash station. But being cleaned, drained out and dry for at least two weeks between dips in the lake is also a pretty good indicator your boat is free of nasty hitchhikers.

Clean. Drain. Dry.

That’s the mantra for keeping our waterways as nice for vacationing, fishing and general recreation as we would want to hand down to the next generation. I learned that not only hull and prop cleansing was needed, but also draining of bilge water, cooling water from motors and bait wells was needed.

You’ll find me most weekends this summer at either the West Lake Boat Launch about a mile northwest of Canada Lake Store and Marine off NY10/29A or at the New York State Campsite on East Caroga Lake across from Campers Corner Store. I couldn’t help being surprised at the number of boats and people going through the West Lake Boat Launch over Memorial Day Weekend.

More than 150 kayaks, canoes, powerboats, pontoon boats and personal watercraft went in and out of the launch over the weekend. There were more than 260 operators and passengers with all those watercraft. I was surprised and pleased that so many were not only knowledgeable of the threat of aquatic invasive species, but that they were voluntarily taking measures to curb the spread of them.

Besides Paul Smiths College, local lake protective associations, state, federal and municipalities are combining to help keep our waterways as clean and protected as we would all want them to be. Many of those at boat launches and boat wash stations are volunteers who just want to keep our waters navigable, clean and hospitable to fish, people and wildlife. I, for one, love to hear the call of the loons coming from across my lake. There’s nothing quite like it.

To locate more boat wash stations, go to For more about the Adirondack Watershed Institute go to with images available at

Stop by for a free wash!

Richard H. Nilsen is the historian for town of Caroga, a photographer and author whose books can be found at local book stores and online at and Contact him at [email protected] or go to his website at

By Patricia Older

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