I can't believe I haven't written yet about one of the MOST IMPORTANT and one of the BIGGEST lake-friendly lake-saving projects EVER in the history of Lake George.
I am way overdue to tell you about the super exciting, brand new, environmental park under construction at the old Gaslight Village site at the southern end of Lake George.
By 2015, this new park will provide a grand educational, recreational, and event space for children of all ages, right in the heart of Lake George Village. It will also treat millions of gallons of previously untreated stormwater coming off of Rt. 9 - helping to reduce loads of nutrients, salts, and other contaminants from entering the Lake and degrading water quality.
In years past, efforts have been concentrated on clearing the land (the old and tired buildings from Gaslight Village needed to be removed), acquiring permits, conducting studies, writing grants, and securing funding for the purchase of the land and the conservation easements. This fundraising continues to this day.
Next the infrastructure and grading for the stormwater treatment train on the parcel south of West Brook needed to be constructed. Land was graded and manmade wetlands and ponds were built.
Meanwhile, conceptual plans for the recreational and education elements of the environmental park were created by Elan Planning and Design, with lots of public input. A children's adventure play area, a main park building with restrooms, a skateboard park, and several other features were all included in master plan.
This past October, over 20,000 native plants, shrubs, and trees were installed on the south parcel, officially completing the construction of the stormwater treatment train part of the project. Requiring minimal maintenance, pruning or fertilizing, these plants were selected because they excel in filtering stormwater and uptaking nutrients. The treatment train will be officially "turned on" next spring, once the plants become more fully established.
So what else is happening?
Funding is in place for most of the construction needed for the north parcel: the park building (housing the restrooms), the Children's Adventure Play Area, the skateboard park (90% funded), the walkways and interpretative signage, and an at-grade crossing over West Brook.
Funding is also in place for the walkways and interpretative signage on the south parcel (location of the storm water treatment train).
What's happening next? Just 5 more steps!
1. In just a couple weeks, Elan Planning and Design expects to receive word on grants that could complete the funding needed for several park elements. (And the project partners are all anxiously awaiting the outcome.) Elements to be potentially funded through these grants are:
a. completion of the skateboard park;
c. park entrance at Beach Road; and
d. signage as well as sidewalks along West Brook Rd.
2. The elevated walkway and bridge over West Brook, connected to a fire tower, the Rt. 9 entrance, and the water feature are all still part of the master plan. Elan and the project partners are continuing to look for funding sources for them. If funding is found prior to construction, they could be included in this upcoming phase of construction. Otherwise, they will be built at a later time.
3. Elan Planning and Design is preparing all the necessary construction documents. At this time Elan is completing the construction documents for funded elements (Item 1). Once the grant award announcement is made, the park management committee will decide which additional elements Elan will complete construction documents for, and those will be completed over the winter.
4. Contractors will bid next summer, and construction will start shortly thereafter.
5. Construction is slated for completion in the summer of 2015.
It's so easy isn't it, to take for granted what is in your own backyard.
I've been thinking about that and decided to create a series for the LGA's social media sites called "7 Days of Thanks for Lake George." For those of you who don't follow the LGA on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ (we do wish you would!) Here are the posts so far:
Tomorrow's post is lots of fun. We hope you'll check out the LGA on Facebook, Twitter or Google+, share our Thanksgiving posts with others, and share with us YOUR own ideas of what makes you most thankful for Lake George.
We've spent a lot of time in this blog talking about permeable pavement and lake friendly landscapes. But there's one very important area in the LGA's efforts that I don't think visitors to our area EVER see. And I don't think many area residents know about it either. It's all the clean up work that's done upstream of Lake George.
This fall 110 dump truck loads of sediment (gunk for lack of a better word!) was removed from eight different ponds along streams in Hague and Bolton, on the west side of the Lake. That's 110 dump truck loads of gunk that didn't get into Lake George. (Sounds lake friendly to me!)
The LGA partnered with the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District (WCSWCD), the town of Hague, and the town of Bolton on the project, keeping all that gunk out of the Lake.
As water flows downstream it carries sediment with it. The sediment can settle out at the mouth of the stream, introducing contaminants and creating deltas in Lake George. By slowing the flow of the water, sediment basins allow the sediment to drop out of suspension and be captured before entering Lake George. But in order for the basins to work properly, they need to be cleaned out every couple of years.
A 65-foot-long reach excavator was rented for two weeks to complete the work. Each town contributed money and trucking services toward the project. WCSWCD provided project oversight with the assistance of the LGA.
In addition to cleaning out the upland basin in Hague, the flow of the stream into the basin was realigned. In the process, some small pools were created so that fish could migrate upstream, similar to a fish ladder. (That also sounds lake friendly!)
In Hague a total of four basins were cleaned out, including two basins on Hague Brook, one on Jenkins Brook, and a fourth across the street from the town beach parking lot. In addition, the public boat launch area was also cleaned. A total of 715 cubic yards of material were removed from the Hague sites. The Hague highway department hauled all of the sediment; Morrissey Construction did the excavating.
In Bolton, just over 600 cubic yards of material were removed from four basins. The basins were located on Finkle Brook, Huddle Brook, and Indian Brook. Bolton Highway Department handled all of the trucking and Morrissey Construction did the excavating. Reale Construction transported the excavator from site to site daily.
''This is truly a team effort with all of the parties involved,'' says LGA Executive Director Walt Lender. ''It is really great to have the municipalities support the cleanouts every year and Jim Lieberum from Soil and Water did an excellent job working with Randy Rath, LGA's project manager, to coordinate all of the logistics of the entire effort including project oversight.''
What to know a bit more about sediment basins? Read on!
As water flows down a stream it carries sediment with it. When it enters Lake George, the sediment settles out at the mouth of the stream, creating deltas. These deltas impede fish migration, act as bedding areas for nuisance aquatic species, hinder recreational activities such as swimming and boating, and force property owners to extend their docks.
In the early 1990s, an active program of utilizing upland in-stream sediment basins to capture sediment began in Warren County, spearheaded by the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District. The LGA provided project support and partial funding for several of these projects as well as funds to help maintain the sites. Old reservoirs were cleaned out and new in-stream sediment basins were created. By slowing stream velocity, basins allow sediment to drop out of suspension and be captured by the basin prior to reaching Lake George.
The sediment comes from the streambed and banks, as well as from roads, development and logging. Once sediment reaches Lake George, it is difficult to remove. Dredging deltas of any significant size requires the approval of the many regulatory bodies as well as significant funding for the physical removal.
Next spring, porous asphalt will be laid down on Beach Road - a historic project for Lake George and Warren County, as I spoke about back in January in this blog.
What if you could install porous asphalt on your home's driveway for a price that compared to traditional asphalt? You might be able to!
When porous asphalt is in production, the entire asphalt plant must be dedicated to producing that one, single porous asphalt mix. As this doesn't happen that often, or for that long of a period, we'd like to see local homeowners benefit from a unique opportunity next spring, when Beach Road's asphalt is mixed.
If we create a single standard design for a typical driveway, for properties with relatively sandy soils, AND use a single contractor experienced in installing porous asphalt, we might be able negotiate a price per square foot for homeowners that compares to conventional asphalt.
The LGA has spoken with Tom Baird of Barton & Loguidice, who designed the Beach Road project, to see if they can develop a design that could be used at different locations with similar soil make up. We have also started preliminary conversation with a local contractor that has porous asphalt paving experience.
As we continue to explore this possibility, we need to know if there are homeowners who would be interested in installing a porous asphalt driveway. This would not be a grant program to pave driveways, but rather the LGA would pay for a single standard design that would be used on all of the driveways. The LGA would also help to negotiate a set price per square foot with the contractor for materials and labor. The homeowners would then pay the contractor to do the work based on the set price per square foot. Ideally, the sites will have somewhat sandy or well drained soils. Clay or poor draining soils will need additional engineering that would be the responsibility of the homeowner and not the LGA.
Are you interested? Need more information? Please contact LGA project manager Randy Rath at email@example.com or 668-3558. We would like all of the projects to be within the Lake George watershed.
Temperatures are starting to get cooler here in the Adirondacks and Lake George. And those bills for heating oil or propane are about to arrive. But not for the folks who have installed geothermal systems!
This is the fifth in our Sustainable Sundays video series. This is an interview with Harold Rist of Smart Energy Geothermal. They specialize in designing and installing open loop geothermal systems in the Adirondacks. Why not use your well water to heat and cool your house? Environmentally friendly... no more gas, oil, or propane deliveries.
We worked with town employees to create a garden that includes over 25 different native species, both well-known and less well-known.
The project started out as a infrastructure project to fix stormwater runoff problems on the town parking lot. The LGA contributed $2,000 toward a joint project with the Warren County Soil & Water Conservation District.
From there, town officials took the project a step further by creating a demonstration garden of native plants. Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson and Councilwoman Marisa Muratori want to encourage folks to see and learn about the many types of beautiful native plant species available. We hope folks will use them in home gardens.
These plants not only prevent erosion problems on their own properties, but to help the Lake as well.
We're always encouraging people to use native plants in their gardens. Why?
Well on a personal and practical level they are easy to grow, and don't require much work in terms of maintenance, fertilizer, watering, or pesticides.
And speaking from the Lake's perspective, the deep roots of native plants absorb and filter runoff more effectively than the short roots of many turf grasses and ornamental plants. Also, unlike some ornamental species, these plants will not upset the ecosystem... they won't become invasive and take over forest understories, and destroying biodiversity.
A few of the plants featured in the garden include: (top to bottom, pictured at left): Laborador Violet, Shrubby Sundrops, Tall Beardtongue, and Wild Columbine. The demonstration garden will eventually be labeled and signage will be added to help people find plants that will work for them.
Native plants come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Some provide interest in all four seasons. Some attract hummingbirds, while others are best for attracting butterflies or birds. There are species that are salt tolerant and others that are deer resistant. In addition, species will thrive differently based upon the available soil, light, and water.
We hope you'll come by the town hall to see all the plants!
Rainbow Beach members may launch boats at the beach's launch without inspection only if the boats have been used exclusively in Lake George. If boats visit waters other than Lake George, owners must provide information on how the boat and trailer have been inspected and cleaned, prior to launch. Non-members, guests, and renters will not be permitted to launch.
We were delighted to see Rainbow Beach take such a proactive approach to
fighting invasive species.
Last summer, Walt Lender, LGA executive director, and Emily DeBolt, LGA director of education, gave a presentation to Rainbow Beach Association about a variety of Lake-related topics, including what was happening just around the corner with Asian clam in Boon Bay. The idea came up that the Rainbow Beach launch ramp was located where invasive species could be inadvertently introduced into the Lake. Over the winter, Rainbow Beach members talked about what they could do to help.
Emily worked with Susan Wilson, a long-time LGA volunteer and a member of Rainbow Beach Association, to provide educational materials about preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. Rainbow Beach then decided to take it one step further this spring by adopting launching restrictions.
We hope other homeowner associations will follow suit!
Next Friday, August 17, the Lake George Association will host its 127th Annual Meeting.
Hard to imagine isn't it, that for 127 years, concerned citizens, the people who love and care about Lake George, have been coming together?
If you're reading this, you too must be concerned about the Lake, so I hope you'll come out to the meeting (it is free), learn about the efforts the LGA is making to protect the Lake, and get to know some like-minded lake-friendly folks like you .... who are passionate about Lake George, and its future.
We'll be meeting at the Lake George Club in Bolton (registration is at 9:30 am but we always appreciate a call ahead to let us know you're coming) and we're got a chock-full program planned. Everyone is welcome!
Of course, with the recent detection of the invasive species spiny water flea in the Lake, we'll be spending some time talking about that... what does it mean for Lake George? We'll present the latest research: up-to-date accurate information. What do we know about its spread so far? What can we do to make sure it doesn't spread to other parts of the Lake and to other waterbodies? We'll have samples of the spiny water flea on hand that have been captured in Lake George, so you can get to see them in person.
If you are a boater on Lake George, you'll have the opportunity to sign our CLEAN BOATERS PLEDGE, and become one of over 250 people so far to do so.
Every attendee will also receive a copy of our latest publication, A Homeowner's Guide to Lake-friendly Living.
You'll also get a peek at some of the lake saving projects we've completed this past year, and ones in the pipeline for the coming year. LGA Project Manager Randy Rath works hard on these... we work to install dry wells, create sediment basins, and more around the Lake, all to decrease the effects of stormwater runoff, which is the number one source of pollutants to Lake George.
Anyway, after the business part of the meeting, we have a wonderful lunch on the veranda, looking out over the Lake. The lunch is optional... and we do need you to pay for that part... $25... and to make reservations for that part -- 668-3558.
Please think about coming out -- we'd love to see you.
This is the fourth in our Sustainable Sundays video series. This is an interview with Jason Sweeney of the Sweeney Company. They specialize in creating beautiful permeable surfaces for driveways, walkways and patios -- helping property owners avoid erosion and flooding problems, while also improving the water quality of the Lake.
Well, recently I wrote about some of the GOOD zooplankton that are swimming around with all of us in the Lake.
Unfortunately, today I am writing about one that is not so good - an invasive zooplankton called spiny water flea.
It was found in Lake George on July 27.
HOW WAS IT DISCOVERED?
An angler leaving Lake George on Friday, July 27 noticed that a mass of material had collected on his line. He showed the material to the LGA Lake Steward on duty at the Mossy Point Boat Launch in Ticonderoga. The Lake Steward collected the sample. Larry Eichler at the Darrin Fresh Water Institute in Bolton Landing later confirmed it as spiny water flea. (Picture above is courtesy of Larry Eichler.)
WHAT IS IT?
Not an insect, the spiny water flea is actually a type of crustacean.
While not technically microscopic, it is still very small. Only a half-inch in size, about 70% of its length is a thin barbed tail. Each individual spiny water flea is 10 times larger than a native water flea, according to the Massachusetts Dept. of Conservation and Recreation.
Many spiny water fleas look like bristly masses of jelly with black eye spots when tangled on fishing lines, reels and other equipment. (The picture above, courtesy of Jeff Gunderson of Minnesota Sea Grant, shows a clump of water fleas on a fishing line.)
WHY IS IT HARMFUL?
Native to Eurasia, the spiny water flea feeds on tiny crustaceans and other zooplankton, altering the structure of the in-lake food web. Spiny water flea competes for food with rainbow smelt and other small fish, the food many game fish species depend upon. The spiny water flea provides little nutrition to the oranisms that consume them; it also can clog the digestive system of small fish. The tail spines of the spiny water flea hook on fishing lines and foul fishing gear.
Spiny water fleas can have a huge impact on aquatic life in lakes and ponds due to their rapid reproduction rates. In warmer water temperatures these water fleas can hatch, grow to maturity, and lay eggs in as little as two weeks. Other eggs may "rest" and can remain dormant for long periods of time prior to hatching.
HOW WAS IT INTRODUCED?
We can't know for sure. Most likely an adult, larvae, or eggs were introduced into the Lake by a bait bucket, bilge water, live well, boat, canoe, kayak, trailer or fishing gear.
It is already present in the Great Sacandaga Lake (2008), Peck Lake (2009), Stewarts Bridge Reservoir (2010), Sacandaga Lake (2010), and the Glens Falls Feeder Canal and Champlain Canal (just weeks ago).
WHAT WILL BE THE RESPONSE?
It is still too soon to know how widespread the infestation is. The LGA is working with the Lake George Park Commission, Darrin Fresh Water Institute, NYS DEC, and our partners to coordinate additional sampling so that we have more information.
Currently there is no successful means to control or eradicate spiny water flea. Preventing its spread around the Lake and to other waterbodies is the only means for reducing its impact.
WHAT WILL IT COST?
Spiny water flea comes on the heels of Lake George's latest invader, the Asian clam, discovered in August 2010. This latest finding brings the count to five aquatic invasive species in the Lake George: zebra mussels, Asian clam, Eurasian watermilfoil, curly-leaf pondweed, and now spiny water flea. Millions of dollars have been spent on managing invasive species in Lake George to date, with over $1 million already spent in Asian clam eradication and containment efforts in just the past year. While this invader will not demand large sums of money for management efforts, that news is not as good as it seems. This latest discovery might not cost a lot to manage, but that is only because there is no known way of fighting it at this point.
WHAT CAN INDIVIDUALS DO TO HELP?
The only way we can fight this latest invader is to PREVENT ITS SPREAD to other parts of the Lake. (Anglers and boaters need to keep up their guard and double check their equipment upon leaving one area of the Lake and heading to another.) We must also prevent its spread to other waterbodies. You can help by supporting the LGA's educational efforts, and by following these important practices when boating and fishing:
After boating, before you leave the launch:
Remove all visible plants, animals, fish, and mud from your boat, trailer, or other equipment and dispose of in a suitable trash container or on dry land.
Drain water from bilge, live wells, ballast tanks, and any other locations with water before leaving the launch.
Before you arrive at the launch to go boating:
Dry your boat, trailer, and all equipment completely. Drying times vary depending on the weather and the type of material. At least five days of drying time is generally recommended during the summer.
Find out what's happening to keep our Queen of American Lakes clean, clear and beautiful. Learn how people like you - who love Lake George - can help protect the Lake for generations to come. I'll be sharing ideas for lake-friendly landscaping and gardening for homes and businesses. You'll also discover how to live lake-friendly when you boat, fish, swim and hike around the Lake.
The Lake George Association has been protecting Lake George for 125 years. It is the oldest lake association in the United States, and the leading non-profit membership group responsible for conserving the Lake. The LGA's balanced approach to lake management has ensured the Lake's exceptional water quality, and has protected both the environment, and the economy, of the entire watershed. LGA programs include the Floating Classroom, Educational Outreach, Lake Saving Projects, Citizen Science, and Invasive Species.