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The LCBP has supported the Lake Champlain Lake Steward program since 2007. These stewards are stationed at high-use public boat launches around the Lake to inspect boats for the presence of invasive species when they are being launched or retrieved. Lake stewards also survey launch users to learn what other water bodies they have visited recently and what measures they take to prevent the spread of invasive species. Stewards reduce the chance of introducing new species by intercepting them as they are about to enter a water body, educate the public about the threats posed by invasive species, and stress the importance of cleaning boats and gear before launching into and when leaving the water body.
The program has provided important information about the Lake’s place in the movement of invasive species at regional and national scales. Boats have come to Lake Champlain from as far away as Colorado and Texas (see the vessel origins map). The Hudson River, Candlewood Lake in Connecticut, and Saratoga Lake in New York are the water bodies visited most frequently in the two weeks prior to launching into Lake Champlain. In 2014, 6.7% of the 14,175 boats inspected carried invasive species.
Laws in New York and Vermont are helping to prevent the spread of AIS. New York now requires all boats, trailers, and gear to be cleaned and drained prior to launching at state access points. Additional rules prohibit sales, transportation, or introduction of certain species in New York. Similarly, Vermont has banned the transportation of aquatic plants on boats and trailers. In response to the discovery of Asian clams in Lake George in 2009, the Lake George Park Commission has implemented a mandatory boat wash and decontamination program on Lake George, the first of its kind in New York State and in the northeast region. Decontamination stations also have been set up a two Vermont boat launches.
The Boat Launch Steward program is just one way the LCBP and its partners are working to prevent the spread of AIS.
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A number of invasive species are “on the doorstep” of Lake Champlain.
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Managing aquatic invasive species is a priority in the Lake Champlain management plan Opportunities for Action.
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