Stewarding at Piseco Lake

Greetings from Piseco Lake, where the Adirondack Watershed Institute is having a successful season combating aquatic invasive species. Our Central Adirondack team consists of a devoted group of full-time and part-time boat stewards and boat decontaminators who have been stationed from Indian Lake to Piseco and all points in-between. I’m sure you have seen us out there, either at the boat launches or the wash stations, doing our best to keep our local waters clean.


Examples of invasive species found on boats and trailers coming into Piseco Lake include: curly-leaf pondweed, zebra mussels and water chestnuts. These three species have caused massive problems for a number of water-bodies throughout the Adirondacks and the Northeast, and keeping them out of our central Adirondack lakes, rivers and ponds is crucial. It’s important to note that we are already fighting one invasive species here on Piseco Lake (along with Sacandaga Lake and Lake Pleasant), that being the spiny waterflea. This tiny crustacean gobbles up plankton and other fish food, thus depleting native fish populations. They are microscopic but they gather in clumps on fishing lines and other cables. Since fishing is highly popular in this region, we have been paying close attention to the fishing boats coming out of these lakes, as we don’t want the spiny waterflea spread to other bodies of water that are free of it. This species was first discovered in Piseco Lake in 2014 by Eric Holmlund, Director of the Adirondack Watershed Institute (also Director of Holmlund Security?).

The public response has been overwhelmingly positive. The presence of boat stewards throughout the Adirondacks has been increasing in the past few years, so general public awareness has increased as well. Some folks have even taken it upon themselves to inspect, wash and clean their boats at home, which is the ultimate goal. Just about every person I’ve dealt with this season has been supportive of the stewardship program. A great thing about what we’re doing is that it isn’t a political issue; conservatives, liberals and everyone in-between agrees that the intrusion of aquatic invasive species is a serious problem that can lead to a future of unusable water-bodies. Especially with the political drama happening in our country right now, it’s refreshing to find an issue that we can all agree on. We love our lakes, rivers and ponds and want to keep them as clean as we can for as long as we can. Boat stewards and decontamination sites continue operating until Columbus Day weekend.

That’s all for now from Piseco Lake — Home of Pissie, the Piseco Lake Monster (a native species; we’re hoping her appetite for the spiny waterflea increases). Enjoy the rest of summer everybody and remember to keep your eyes peeled and boats clean!

By: Mike Vail

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June 2016 Newsletter 1June 2016 Newsletter 2June 2016 Newsletter 3June 2016 Newsletter 4June 2016 Newsletter 5June 2016 Newsletter 6June 2016 Newsletter 7June 2016 Newsletter 8June 2016 Newsletter 9June 2016 Newsletter 10

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Mid-Summer Update!

Infographic - 5.27-7.8

Graphic design by Jake Sporn Photography.

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Interpretive Children’s Programs at the VIC

In May of 2016, the AWI assisted in two separate interpretive sessions at the Paul Smith’s College VIC. On two separate days, fifth-grade students from Peru, New York participated in various outdoor and indoor activities, all of which revolved around a theme of wilderness knowledge. After arriving, the students were split into groups and informed of a few rules (don’t pick anything, don’t leave anything you brought with you – trash, et cetera – in the woods, please don’t throw pinecones at each other).

VIC Bridge

After being split into their groups, the students were encouraged to use their senses (primarily sight and sound) as they learned some basic identification skills of local flora and fauna. Two watershed stewards led some of the outdoor activities; namely, helping the children find several different aquatic plants and animals in the Heron Marsh with dip nets and buckets as well as taking them on a scavenger hunt on the trails.

The students rotated through the activities on a half-hour schedule. By 1:30 PM, they were headed back to Peru on their bus, having learned the difference between a fox and a coyote track, made plaster casts, played a wilderness-themed game of twister, scooped snails from a muddy marsh, and taken quite possibly thousands of iPhone photographs of everything from one another to various leaves. The day was a success.

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Stewarding at Piseco

Mike Vail Piseco Lake

Steward Mike Vail at Piseco Lake

My name is Mike and I’m a boat steward on Piseco Lake. This is my first season and I can say that it’s been great. The Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College has assembled a team of educated, sensible individuals who share the same passion and ideas as the rest of us: love and protect the Adirondack waterways.

The decision to become a boat steward was an easy one. My grandparents first started coming to the Higgins Bay area of Piseco Lake in 1929. For a long time, I assumed they only visited Piseco for a few weeks in the summer, but home movies taken in the 1930’s and 1940’s tell me otherwise. They came to camp, fish, and be adventurous during every season (with the exception of ‘mud season’). When they had children, they towed them along as well; my father spent a good portion of his childhood summers at Piseco, enjoying his youth and forging life-long friendships on the lake. When he met my mother and brought her there, she fell in love with it, too. Once my brother was born, they decided to buy their own land there.

` My parents were both teachers; thus, my brother and I spent every summer, Christmas vacation, and long weekend at camp. After we graduated from college and my parents retired, the camp at Piseco became our home. As I spent more time there, I realized how much Piseco meant to us. Now that I’ve been a resident for some time, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

I plan to write a few more of these blogs, so consider this an introduction to me and what I’m doing this summer. I’ve been spending time at Poplar Point and Point Comfort so far and boat traffic is increasing. Our weekly team meetings have been cohesive and positive. I’m confident that our group and all of the other stewards in the park will have a successful summer combatting aquatic invasive species. Have a great summer everyone!

By: Mike Vail

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Notable Catches – Week 1

Our Stewardship Program has had some great success in the early days of the 2016 boating season! From May 27th to June 4th we inspected nearly 3,500 boats at 42 locations throughout the region. Stewards removed 104 Aquatic Invasive Species from watercraft: 20 Curly-leaf pondweed, 58 Eurasian watermilfoil, 19 Variable leaf milfoil, 1 Spiny waterflea, and 6 Zebra mussels.

Our most notable catches were intercepted on watercraft launching into lakes uninfected with that particular species:

Curly-leaf pondweed at Fourth Lake on May 27th.

Curly-leaf pondweed Fourth Lake 5-27

Curly-leaf pondweed at Upper Saranac Lake on June 3rd.

Curly-lead pondweek USL 6-3

Zebra mussels at Long Lake on June 4th.

Zebra mussels Long Lake 6-4

We look forward to continued success at protecting our beautiful waters for the rest of the year!

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National Trails Day

By: Amelia McDonnell

This year for National Trails Day, the Adirondack Watershed Institute contributed to various trail work projects in the area. One group of stewards helped begin the cleanup of a trail near Cranberry Lake, collaborating with local professor and activist Jamie Savage. The path – known as the Lost Pond Loop – is poised to become a medium-distance interpretive opportunity, or a detour from the well-known Cranberry 50 trail (which it is directly connected to).

Elsewhere in the Adirondacks, another group of stewards convened at Heart Lake, camping near The Adirondack Loj for a night before working on project sites in the surrounding wilderness. Over the course of the day, the stewards – along with over a hundred and thirty other people from various organizations, most of whom were volunteers – completed many tasks necessary for trail maintenance, including alpine vegetation protection, lean-to resurrection, and strategically placing rocks to keep the trails from eroding due to overuse.

One other group set up an information table – complete with pamphlets and displays – at the National Trails Day Festival near the head of the Northville Placid Trail in Waterfront Park (which included over eighty vendors, exhibits, and attractions), where they talked to the public and handed out educational material.

Thanks in part to the AWI stewards, participants in the activities of National Trails Day helped perform labor essential for the beautification, continued utilization, and sustainability of local recreational areas.

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