Invasive species on list of topics for lakes conference

A n expert on aquatic invasive organisms will discuss the impact of non-native species, such as the spiny water flea, on Lake George and Lake Champlain during an interdisciplinary conference examining the two lakes.

Meg Modley, aquatic nuisance species coordinator at the Lake Champlain Basin Program, is one of eight featured speakers at the Conference on Lake Champlain and Lake George to be held this weekend, Aug. 11 and 12, at Fort Ticonderoga.

“Meg Modley has been right in the news with the announcement earlier this week of the discovery of the spiny water flea in Lake George,” said Rich Strum, director of education at Fort Ticonderoga and one of the architects of the conference. “She will discuss aquatic invasive species in the lakes. Her talk is subtitled ‘The impact of those that are here and the threats of those knocking on our doorstep’.”

Modley works with federal, state, and provincial partners in New York, Vermont and Quebec to coordinate aquatic invasive species management in the basin and was part of a task force that released recommendations last week to respond to the presence of the spiny water flea in the Champlain Canal.

Strum said the conference is the first of its kind at Fort Ticonderoga and is a departure from other seminars at the site, which focus solely on historical events that occurred in the region.

“This conference explores the history, geography, culture, ecology, and current issues relating to the Lake George and Lake Champlain Region,” he said. “This unique conference includes sessions exploring the 18th, 19th, and 20th century history of the Lake George and Lake Champlain region, examining the works of 19th and 20th century photographers, and detailing current issues of concern related to the ecological well-being of these two important lakes.”

Programs include a discussion of the 1758 “Sunken Fleet” in Lake George by noted underwater archaeologist and documentary filmmaker Joseph Zarzynski; a look at the restoration of the steamboat Ticonderoga, which is on display at the Shelburne Museum; and a discussion examining the Civil War battle of the ironclads, the first between iron ships. The iron ore used to build the USS Monitor came from Crown Point, Strum said.

Timothy Weidner, director of the Chapman Museum in Glens Falls, will detail the photography of Seneca Ray Stoddard, and Mark Bowie will discuss the work of his grandfather Richard Dean, who made thousands of postcards from images of Lake Champlain and Lake George.

David Franzi, a geologist at SUNY Plattsburgh, will discuss how the region was shaped by the last age and Hartford resident Emily DeBolt will share with the audience lake-friendly landscaping techniques.

“It’s truly an interdisciplinary look at the region. We are right at the junction of Lake Champlain and Lake George, which was important waterway in the history of the fort and continues to be an important part of the region,” Strum said.

He said a second conference has already been planned for next year and it may become an annual event if it’s successful.

A grant from the Vermont Community Foundation helped make the conference possible and programming support was provided by the Lake George Association.

The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11, and 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, Aug. 12.

To learn more about the conference, visit www.fort-ticonderoga.org or call 585-6370.

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