LAKE GEORGE — Work to suffocate invasive clams in Lake George may succeed in killing off the population by next summer, the Fund for Lake George’s executive director said.
The Asian clams were discovered by a Darrin Fresh Water doctorate student in August at the southern end of the lake.
They are considered an invasive species because they reproduce so quickly they can clog water pipes. They also compete with native organisms for algae and excrete nutrients that contribute to algae blooms, which are often associated with poor water quality.
When the clams die, they release calcium that contributes to the spread of zebra mussels, another invasive species in the lake, and their sharp shells can make a sandy beach unfriendly to bare feet.
They can also turn blue water green.
Since the August discovery, environmental groups around the lake have spent more than $45,000 to study and get rid of the clams. Several groups, including the Fund for Lake George, RPI’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute, the Lake George Park Commission, the Lake George Waterkeeper, the Lake George Association, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, the Lake Champlain Basin Program, Bateaux Below and the Adirondack Park Agency have been involved in the effort.
Technical experts from Lake Tahoe, where work to control a bustling Asian clam population is ongoing, have also been involved in efforts at Lake George and have visited the lake to study the new clams, a press release from the Darrin Fresh Water Institute states.
According to a newsletter from the Fund for Lake George, a 4-acre area of infestation has been identified in the village of Lake George that runs from the English Brook delta to the area around the Boardwalk restaurant. The clam population is estimated at more than 5,000 per square meter in heavily infested areas around docks and close to shore.
Divers have been testing different types of mats laid over the lake bottom, called benthic barrier, to see how effectively they can suffocate clams, the Fund for Lake George’s newsletter states. That study will shape efforts to kill off the entire Asian clam population after ice melts in April. Over the winter, the newsletter states, permits and materials will be secured, but the cost of the project is estimated at $250,000 for the 4-acre area.
“So far, the benthic barrier seems to be working,” Fund for Lake George Executive Director Peter Bauer said.