PLATTSBURGH — Boat owners who want to pressure wash their vessels before entering or leaving area waters now have a new option available.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation have established an agreement with several car-wash businesses in the basin to provide facilities to successfully clean boats, trailers and equipment and help prevent the spread of unwanted invasive species.
“Because there are not sufficient resources for both the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Service to install boat-launch stations at access sites, the alternative was to find local car washes that can accommodate cars with trailered vessels,” said Meg Modley, invasive-species management coordinator for the Lake Champlain Basin Program.
“What they offer is high-pressurized wands that boaters can use to clean their boats and trailers.”
Pressure washing boats, trailers and equipment helps remove plant fragments, zebra mussels and other invasive species that may unknowingly cling to boaters’ property.
“For their participation, we’ve put the names of businesses on our brochures and will give them sandwiched signs to put up at their place of business,” Modley said.
“We have identified existing infrastructure (at area car washes) that can provide boaters with what they need (to clean their boats properly).”
The service is not free; boat owners must pay whatever the businesses charge.
Vermont boaters are required by law to remove all vegetation, mud and animals from their boats when leaving Vermont waters, but a similar law does not exist in New York.
Still, using the cleaning stations can benefit owners as well as the environment.
“People like to keep their vessels clean,” Modley said. “This (program) gives them a great place to go now.”
New Way Car Wash at 269 Margaret St. and Washland Car Wash at 310 Margaret St. both offer the service in Plattsburgh.
Other New York stations are at Crown Point Car Wash, 2738 Main St., and Treadway Car Wash, 1203 Route 9 in Ticonderoga.
Eight stations are available in Vermont, ranging from Swanton to Vergennes.
Aquatic invasive species are non-native plants and animals that typically out-compete native plants and animals for food and habitat. They can obstruct waterways, clog recreational areas and greatly reduce biodiversity.
For instance, water chestnuts and Eurasian watermilfoil can grow rapidly, hampering boating, fishing and swimming. Zebra mussels can clog water intake pipes, clutter beaches, encrust docks and harm native mussels.
Forty-nine non-native species occupy Lake Champlain, and many more threaten to invade in the near future.
Many inland lakes remain uninfested but are threatened by their proximity to Lake Champlain.
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