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State should pay to wash boats

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - Updated: 7:09 PM

Dennis Dickinson, supervisor of the town of Lake George, is right. The boat-washing stations proposed as a way to fight the spread of invasive species into the lake need to be funded right away.

Dickinson is also wrong. Warren County should not be considered responsible for coming up with the program's startup costs, estimated at $2 million.

The state of New York should fund the stations. Fortunately, the state has a fund established for the purpose of paying for projects like this: the Environmental Protection Fund.

The Environmental Protection Fund has an annual stream of revenue from the state's real estate transfer tax, amounting to $134 million this year. That money is spent mostly on capital projects to protect the environment, including land purchases, pollution control measures, recycling programs and efforts to wipe out invasive species.

As Dan Stec, supervisor of Queensbury, pointed out to Dickinson, the state owns the lake. It is sensible and right the state would act to protect this important public resource.

Warren County has already spent or budgeted almost $500,000 to fight the incursion of Asian clams into the lake. That's a lot of money for Warren County.

An equivalent amount for the state would come to tens of millions of dollars, and eventually, we expect the state to be spending tens of millions to fight invasives in the Lake George/Lake Champlain region.

Other funding schemes that have been suggested are unwieldy in comparison with the simplicity of tapping the Environmental Protection Fund.

State officials have not been shy about spending the fund's money in the Adirondacks; they recently bought 69,000 acres of land in the High Peaks for more than $49 million.

We have said the High Peaks purchase was worthwhile, because the state was seizing a rare opportunity to acquire for the public some of the most beautiful land in New York.

It's even more worthwhile to spend less money to protect the most beautiful and economically important lakes in the state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, admirably proactive on a range of issues, from same-sex marriage to state pensions, has been passive on the subject of invasive species.

When Hurricane Irene decimated Adirondack communities last year, Gov. Cuomo got personally involved, helping with local cleanups and pushing state agencies to be quick and responsive.

We want to see the same level of commitment from the governor on invasives.

The incursion of invasive species is a problem across the state and a comprehensive, state-led approach is needed to combat and control them. In the meantime, New York should provide the Lake George Park Commission with the money it needs to start washing boats.

-- The Glens Falls Post-Star

     

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