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Study shows boat stewards can work

Paul Smith’s College research examines invasive risks in Adirondack lakes

PAUL SMITHS — The Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute recently presented new research detailing the threat of aquatic invasive species in Adirondack lakes at the Northeast Aquatic Plant Management Society meeting in Lake Placid.

The first study was presented by Michale Glennon and focuses on identifying and predicting which lakes are most vulnerable to the introduction and establishment of aquatic invasive species (AIS).

Glennon found that the motorboat traffic in the Adirondacks is highest at lakes that are large, are located in close proximity to interstates, and have abundant amenities such as parking, marinas, boat rentals and campgrounds.

“Understanding the patterns of boater traffic and which lakes are most vulnerable to the threat of aquatic invasive species will help the state and partners prioritize where to invest funding and staff to help prevent further spread or new infestations of these organisms,” Glennon said.

The second study was presented by Dan Kelting and examines risk of invasive species in Adirondack lakes and how effective the boat steward program and the existing AIS Spread Prevention Law are at prompting boaters to clean, drain and dry boats to reduce this risk.

Focused in the Adirondacks, the study found that 78% of boats have either been out of the water for at least two weeks prior to launching or had only visited the same waterbody in which they were launching.

“These data show that the majority of boats launching in Adirondack waters are at low risk of transporting AIS,” said Kelting. “These boats are always in the same waterbody or are used infrequently.”

The study also found that of higher-risk boats, nearly 80% of them have had an interaction with a boat steward. An encounter with a boat steward appears to greatly enhance the adoption of spread prevention measures, according to Kelting. Boaters who have ever had a prior encounter with a boat steward are also less likely to have AIS present on their watercraft.

“It is clear from our research that Adirondack waters continue to be threatened with invasion from both within the park and from elsewhere,” Glennon said. “We recommend that AIS spread prevention programs around New York continue to be enhanced so that effectiveness of boat steward and decontamination efforts further improve.”

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