UPDATE: With the debate intensifying over strategies that might keep the spiny water flea from infesting Lake Champlain, state officials in New York confirmed on Wednesday that the non-native organism has been confirmed in Lake George.
“DEC has worked with its partners on the Lake Champlain Basin Task Force to stop and slow the spread of the spiny water flea,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. “The discovery of spiny water flea in Lake George is not welcome news and DEC’s efforts to slow the spread of this and other invasive species will continue.”
Communities in the Lake George basin have been battling with a rash of new invasives, including the Asian clam.
According to the Conservation Department, spiny water flea may now reach Lake Champlain via the La Chute River — which flows from Lake George through Ticonderoga into the big lake.
ORIGINAL POST FOLLOWS
Last month, scientists discovered a nasty new invasive called the spiny waterflea in the waters of the Lake Champlain canal, which links the Hudson River to Lake Champlain.
A growing number of researchers and environmental activists have called on New York state officials to close the waterway, to prevent the tiny creature — infamous for fouling cables and fishing tackle — from reaching the big lake.
Yesterday, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy held a news conference on the waterfront in Burlington, where he called for the canal to be closed. This from the Associated Press:
The spiny water flea “is likely to damage the aquatic food web that produces the fantastic diversity of life in the lake and that feeds our world-class fishery,” Leahy said. “The spiny water flea also can become a nuisance to boaters (and) fishermen as it attaches to equipment and tangles itself in fishing line.”
But New York officials have resisted closing the route, pointing out that it is used by more than 5,000 pleasure and cargo boats every year, contributing mightily to the North Country’s tourism economy.
Dan Weiller, spokesman for the New York State Canal Corp., told the AP that “it is essential to consider the economic implications of potentially closing the Champlain Canal.”
Scientists generally agree that once the spiny water flea reaches Lake Champlain, it will be nearly impossible to eradicate.
Researchers believe the canal is also a route used by other invasive species reaching North Country waterways, including the Asian clam which has now been found in nearby Lake George.