It has now been three weeks since the official launch of the Finger Lakes Institute Watercraft Steward Program and operations have been successful, even through the highly boat-trafficked Memorial Day weekend!
From the program’s start date of May 24th to the final day of Memorial Day weekend, May 28th, eight stewards were dispatched to eight different public access boat launches for eight hours a day. While at Allan H. Treman State Park, Canandaigua Lake State Marine Park, the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Keuka Lake State Park, Sampson State Park, Emerson Park, Seneca Lake State Park, and Taughannock Falls State Park, the stewards educated boaters and collected data on all watercraft both entering and leaving the lakes.
Through a brief summary analysis of data collected from the 24th to the 28th of May, the total number of boats entering and leaving the lakes from all eight launches was approximately 970. Allan H. Treman State Park, Canandaigua State Marine Park, and Emerson Park on Owasco Lake were the three most trafficked launches from the 25th to the 27th of May with an average of 157 total boats per launch in three days, and an average of 52 boats per launch in one day.
With the Watercraft Steward Program is solidly in place, the Finger Lakes Institute will now begin to take another look at the Standard Operating Procedures used to train and guide the stewards in hopes of revising and updating the document for use by up-and-coming programs of similar nature.
Additionally in the coming weeks, new pieces will be added to our own Watercraft Steward Program including rake toss monitoring, which is used to sample and track the abundance of aquatic plants in any given location. Such reporting can be very useful in the planning of further invasive species control strategies. This technique was developed and outlined in large part by Scott Kishbaugh, P.E. of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
With the total number of steward to boater contacts exceeding one thousand after just three weeks, it is safe to say the Watercraft Steward Program is off to a smooth sailing start!