ELIZABETHTOWN - The Essex County Board of Supervisors is set to hold a hearing Monday morning on a proposed law that would aim to prevent the spread of invasive species, but it would only apply to Lake George.
County Attorney Dan Manning recently told the county Ways and Means Committee that Warren County has already adopted such a law and has asked Washington and Essex counties - the other two counties that have access to Lake George - to do the same.
Manning said the idea is if the counties pass and enforce the law, it will educate people and prompt the state to act on enforcing measures to stop people from bringing in new invasives.
Schroon town Supervisor Michael Marnell said his town passed a local law pertaining to invasive species, and he asked if the county could pass a law covering all the bodies of water in the county.
"If you really wanted to get into this, you'd say, 'Any water body - any lake, stream, river or pond - located within the jurisdiction of Essex County would be subject to such a law,'" Manning said. "The only problem is it would be very expensive. We have so many lakes, ponds, rivers. At this juncture, if you were to do that, I'd recommend that you conduct a very comprehensive study as to how it should be done and what the expense might be so that you have an idea what kind of undertaking you're going to be involved in."
He noted that if such a law were to refer to all water bodies in the county, Lake Champlain would be included. Lake Champlain borders on two states as well as Canada, and there would need to be agreements between all those governments.
"That's why, in my opinion, if you're going to do anything, it should be limited only to Lake George at this juncture," Manning said, "because to enforce this against every lake, stream and pond and to shoulder the expense, I think you probably wouldn't want to do that."
According to the draft law introduced to protect Lake George, "aquatic invasive species can displace native species and alter natural ecosystems, and cause negative environmental and economic impacts. Residents and visitors to Essex County and Lake George alike are negatively impacted by the decline of water bodies subjected to aquatic invasive species."
It would ban any spreading of invasive species and set up punishments ranging from $500 to $1,000 and 15 days in jail.
The law could be enforced by county sheriffs' departments, state police or Department of Environmental Conservation officers, or the Lake George Park Commission, but the plan is for the park commission to take the lead in enforcing it, Manning said.
"It should not cost us anything," he said.
Ticonderoga's Mossy Point is the only public access to Lake George in Essex County. The DEC plans to donate a boat-washing station to be installed there, said Ticonderoga Supervisor Deb Malaney.
In May, Essex County passed a resolution supporting a Warren County resolution calling for a ban on the spread of invasive species.
The board introduced the draft law at its last regular meeting at the beginning of the month. After Monday's hearing, the board could approve it, and it would become local law after it is filed with the state.
The hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. Monday at the Essex County Courthouse in Elizabethtown. The full text of the law is available on the county's website.
Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.