By Walt Lender, Executive Director, Lake George Association and Eric Siy, Executive Director, The FUND for Lake George
Unprecedented threats to the quality of Lake George’s water demanded a revolutionary response. He arrived on March 9.
In a move that is both visionary and decisive in action, the Boards of Directors of the Lake George Association and the FUND for Lake George have approved a merger that will create a new, unique and more powerful protector for the Queen of the American Lakes.
Our combined teams look forward to this exciting new era in the protection of Lake George. For the past 40 years, our organizations have worked independently, but with a common goal, on behalf of the lake we all love. Today, Lake George needs us more than ever, and we will answer that call together and more effectively than ever.
By combining the scientific, technical, advocacy and educational expertise and resources of our teams – including the Lake George Waterkeeper and the Jefferson Project’s collaboration with IBM Research and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – the new Lake George Association will bring our lake a constellation of freshwater protection, with a level of science-driven programs unmatched in the world. And rightly so, because Lake George is unlike anywhere in the world.
It will be a next-generation, united in action, science-based commitment, supported by education and fueled by investments as well as partnerships with every constituency that has a stake in the fate of Lake George. – owners, business leaders, elected officials, regulators and families and their children, who will one day fulfill these leadership roles themselves.
The answer is clear.
The threats to lake water quality today are unprecedented in their complexity and potential impacts. While most come from human activities that we can all work together to mitigate, many are exacerbated by the effects of our changing climate. And that makes our role of protection all the more difficult.
In just four months at the end of last year, we were faced with the first significant hemlock woolly aphid (HWA) infestation in the Lake George watershed and the first harmful algal bloom (HAB) confirmed from the lake. The HWA endangers the eastern hemlocks which constitute about 80% of the forested area of the watershed and provide essential protection of water quality and ecosystems. If the HAB events continue, they threaten to turn our crystal-clear pea soup waters green, wreaking havoc on the ecology and economy of the lake.
These emerging threats are in addition to those that have accompanied us for some time. Aquatic invasive species continue to arrive in increasing numbers on boats and trailers. Road salt use, although significantly reduced thanks to our road salt reduction initiative with municipal road services, continues largely unchecked on private property. This salt inevitably ends up in tributaries, groundwater, soils and the lake itself. Several hundred private septic systems in the watershed continue to age and fail, leaking out harmful nutrients causing HAB. This situation is exacerbated by nutrient pollution from stormwater runoff, exacerbated by increasingly severe storms resulting from climate change.
Together, we are better prepared to act to reduce the intensified effects of these stressors and improve the resilience of the lake.
Science-driven action will be the mantra of the new LGA. We will harness science to educate and empower those who live, work and vacation on the lake to take action that helps ensure its lasting protection. We will use science to develop and implement innovative and results-oriented protection programs with direct and significant benefits for water quality and the entire watershed.
The new LGA will provide landowners, local government officials, business leaders and others with the necessary information about the health of the lake and what is required of all of us to protect it. We will be the lake’s greatest advocate, working hard at the local, state and federal levels to ensure that public policy decisions are made to protect the lake and make our work a model for others to learn and adopt.
In the coming days, members of the Lake George Association will be invited to vote in favor of this new era in lake protection. We are convinced that they will agree:
When it comes to the lasting protection of Lake George, the new LGA will be both historic and futuristic. Most importantly, it’s the right thing to do.
We invite you to learn more at newlga.org.
Photo: Lake George South from Record Hill Anthonys Nose, courtesy Carl Heilman II / Almanack Archives