Sunday, February 24, 2013

State fiddles while Lake George chokes

Invasive species are becoming a significant threat to the water quality of Lake George. There are fears that further expansion of the Asian clam population will cause algae blooms that will menace the quality of drinking water that lake communities rely on and render beaches unfit for swimming, menacing the tourism that lake communities rely on. 
Regional organizations Lake George Association and Fund for Lake George have recognized this serious threat but the state Department of Environmental Conservation has been accused of not spending the money and attention that the issue deserves. The LGA recently proposed the mandatory washing of all boats entering the lake but DEC put the brakes on that idea, it would study the idea when they bothered to get around to it. They added that no such plan could not be implemented in 2013. Yet, there is no indication that DEC has the intention of implementing ANY serious plan in 2013. Disgusted, the town of Bolton is trying to implement its own boat washing plan.

The Post-Star recently published an interview with DEC chief Joe Martens. In it, he said that the state would not shift any money from the part of the Environmental Protection Fund dedicated to land purchases to the underfunded invasive species program. This despite the fact that the EPF's stated purpose is not solely to buy land but also to 'develop and preserve these resources.'

In other words, the state wants to buy more land but is unwilling or unable to properly take care of the land (and water) it already owns. 

I know the DEC is being gutted by the budget process and is under serious pressure by Emperor Andrew's regime to mindlessly rubber stamp hydrofracking in the state's Southern Tier. But the agency should focus first on properly preserving the land and water they're already responsible for before adding more.

I have no ideological objection to the state owning land (provided they actually pay local property taxes on it as legally required), but this is a suicidal approach. Their name is not the Department of State Land Acquisition. It's the Department of *Environmental Conservation*. Protecting the ecology is their most important job. Buying more land is secondary.

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