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July 25, 2013

Watchdog group worries about invasive plants

Every family wants to protect its heirlooms.

But the environmental watchdogs keeping an eye on one of Otsego County’s most significant jewels, Otsego Lake, say the water body is not being adequately protected from the threat of invasive species.

The biggest threat to the lake, they say, are aquatic invasive species that usually enter waterways via boats that carry them there after picking them up in rivers and lakes that already have them.

A  report by Win McIntyre, the lead advisor to the Otsego Lake Watershed Advisory Committee, states that the threat of invasive species entering the lake has “significantly increased” because boats aren’t being inspected at several launch sites overseen by motels.

In addition, not all boats being launched from Springfield Landing are inspected, and there are regular after-hours launches at the two public launch sites in Cooperstown, creating even more opportunities for invasive species to slip into the lake..

McIntyre said the county Board of Representatives could help protect not only Otsego Lake but also Canadarago and Goodyear lakes by passing a county law that imposes sanctions on boat operators whose craft have an invasive species attached to it when it is launched.

Similar laws, he noted, already exist in Warren and Essex counties. Warren County is home to Lake George, while part of Essex County runs along the western shore of Lake Champlain.

The goal of stepping up the protection of the local lakes is also actively supported by Willard Harman, the director of the Biological Field Station operated in Cooperstown by the State University College at Oneonta, and Paul Lord, a professor of aquatic biology at the State University Collage at Oneonta, officials said.

“The cost of dealing with these aquatic invasive species is tremendous,” said Matt Albright, Harman’s assistant at the field station. 

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