For the past two years I’ve been working in Albany with the Adirondack Mountain Club. The Adirondack Park is relatively new to me, but apparently it is not new to my family. While working on genealogy and sorting through family artifacts with my parents, we are beginning to discover a long familial history with the region. My father recently found an old photo album in a box of things belonging to my grandmother. The photos document trips to the Adirondack Region from Philadelphia in 1900 and 1903 when my great-grandmother visited Schroon Lake and hiked Pharaoh Mountain with her family. They traveled to NYC and then made their way north on the Hudson by boat.

This summer I traveled back to the area my family visited 115 years ago. I stepped on the shores of Schroon Lake for the first time and paddled Lost Pond and Berrymill Pond in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area. The return was prompted by our work with Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, the Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI), and the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP), the New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the Ausable River Association (AsRA) to monitor the backcountry waters of the Lake Champlain Basin and the Adirondack Park for aquatic invasive species. Fortunately, we did not find any invasives in Lost Pond or Berrymill Pond, and of the 14 unsurveyed ponds our group of volunteers surveyed, only one near Lake Champlain, had an invasive species identified (Eurasian watermilfoil).

APIPP has a robust lake monitoring program with almost 700 volunteer lake monitors who annually help to survey the thousands of waterbodies in the Adirondack Park. In 2014, of the 332 lakes and ponds surveyed, only 97 had invasive plant species identified (see APIPP Figure 1).  Although many ADK members are currently involved in this effort, we thought we could be especially helpful in focusing our members (who tend to like remote areas) on the unsurveyed backcountry waters which typically are not accessible by a motorized road. Our objective included raising the awareness of our 28,000 members about invasive species and the importance of early detection of these invaders in spread prevention (see APIPP Figure 2). The chart below shows how the public’s awareness, early detection and rapid response are powerful interrelated tools in controlling invasive species and protecting our rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds from the habitat destruction these invaders promulgate.

Although some ADK members have the equipment needed for backcountry water surveys, including lightweight or packable boats (e.g., boats by Hornbeck or Placid Boatworks), the Backcountry Monitors Project allowed us to purchase two NRS packrafts (with paddles and air inflation bags) so that volunteers can borrow the boats for backcountry survey.

This past July my family, including some of my nephews and nieces spent a week with me at the Heart Lake Wilderness Campground (Heart Lake was one of waterbodies that our volunteer Backcountry Water Monitors were able to declare free from invasives this year). Hopefully, they will visit me again soon and we can all hike Pharaoh Mountain together and rest at the same spot that my great-grandmother and her family visited so many years ago.

If you would like to learn more about this project visit

Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) Program provided the two figures.  You can download the whole presentation here

This project was funded by an agreement awarded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission of the  New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program. NEIWPCC manages LCBP’s personnel, contract, grant and budget tasks and provides input on the program’s activities through a partnership with the LCPBP steering committee.  The viewpoints expressed here do not necessarily represent those off NEIWPCC, The LCBP’s steering committee, or GLFC, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or causes constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.