Lake George Initiatives
The Lake George region is a resource of unparalleled beauty located within the Adirondack Park. Lake George itself is heavily used for many forms of recreation, yet remains a high quality natural resource. Over the past several decades, land development within its 300-square-mile watershed has accelerated greatly, threatening community character, natural resources and water quality.
In 2001, the Department of State created the Lake George Watershed Coalition to prepare a long-term plan to protect lake water quality. The completed Lake George Planning for the Future document addresses lake sedimentation, invasive species, and stormwater runoff. Since then, extensive work has been completed to implement the plan including installation of stormwater management practices, invasive species removal, water quality monitoring, and outreach and education programs.
The Lake George Watershed Coalition includes all nine municipalities and three counties around the lake, five state agencies, and nine nonprofit organizations, and assures lake issues are addressed in a coordinated manner. Its activities are largely financed through grants from the Environmental Protection Fund Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (EPF LWRP), funds appropriated by each watershed municipality, and the in-kind and donated services of its members.
In addition to working collectively through the Lake George Watershed Coalition with the local governments around Lake George on water quality issues, our office also works with several individual communities through the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. Twenty-six grants from the EPF LWRP totaling over $2.6 million have been awarded for a variety of planning and construction projects to revitalize waterfronts, increase waterfront access, and strengthen the region’s tourism economy.
A major project being undertaken by Coalition members involves the installation of an array of water quality improvements on the 12-acre site of the former Gaslight Village, an abandoned theme park adjacent to the lake in Lake George Village, to better manage runoff entering the lake from West Brook, a major tributary stream which flows through the site. In 2008, the Town and Village of Lake George, Warren County, the Lake George Association, the Fund for Lake George, and the Lake George Land Conservancy purchased the site for $4.1 million. Our office subsequently awarded $152,000 in grants from the EPF LWRP, to design the project, followed by $1.2 million for implementation, to be used for site clearance and installation of sediment basins and a created wetland to filter pollutants. In addition, the NYS Department of Transportation, also a member of the Watershed Coalition, will install sub-surface catchments adjacent to Route 9 on the project site. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has likewise committed funds, to be used for the development of public enhancements on the site, such as trails and nature walks.
To enhance the appearance of the downtown, improve pedestrian circulation between the downtown and the shoreline, and to strengthen the economy of the Village and enhance waterfront access, ten EPF LWRP grants have been awarded to the Village to develop the heavily used lakefront walkway, and to construct a Visitor’s Center and streetscape improvements along Canada Street.
Our office enjoys a productive partnership with the Town of Bolton through the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. The Town has received grants totaling over $700,000 from the EPF LWRP to prepare a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, re-write the Town’s zoning controls to protect community character and better manage growth, and to enhance and expand Roger’s Memorial Park and Veterans’ Park, two heavily used waterfront open spaces.
Hundreds of shipwrecks and other submerged cultural and other physical features exist throughout New York's Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, Hudson River, and Long Island coastal waters, and in the State's inland waterways such as the Finger Lakes, Lake George and Lake Champlain. The Statewide Underwater Blueway Trail is a pilot project, funded through the EPF LWRP, that identifies and establishes strings of dive sites to promote recreational diving, tourism, and maritime and other waterfront cultural resource education in six municipalities and associated nearby waterways — the Village of Lake George and Lake George, the Village of Freeport and the Atlantic Ocean, the City of Oswego and Lake Ontario, the City of Dunkirk and Lake Erie, the City of Plattsburgh and Lake Champlain, and the City of Geneva and Seneca Lake. The dive sites identified through this project are to be thematically linked to significant events involving the settlement, heritage, and development of the State or nation, such as the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, French and Indian War, Industrial Revolution, World Wars I or II, or other historic or culturally significant events or activities associated with New York’s history and settlement. The project will also link Underwater Blueway Trail sites with established and new Heritage Areas, trails, preserves, greenways, and blueways, such as the New York State Blueway Trail that includes the Canal Recreationway, Champlain Paddlers Trail, Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve Bayway, and the existing Lake George underwater preserve sites. The project is the model for a statewide plan advancing recreational diving, tourism, and education regarding the State’s cultural heritage and development in differing regions of the State.