Rosemary Pusateri isn’t one to sit still when she sees a potential threat to the health of Lake George.
The retired data analyst and longtime Lake protection advocate walks frequently along Beach Road in Lake George Village and was taken aback in recent years by the number of boats she saw entering the Lake at Million Dollar Beach on spring and fall days when the state-owned boat launch was open, but the mandatory invasive species inspection station was closed.
Concerned that these uninspected boats could be carrying harmful invasives into the water, Rosemary began photographing and chronicling the number of off-season vessels she saw each day and enlisted friends and neighbors to do the same. She soon presented her findings to the staff of the Lake George Association, who in turn brought them to the Lake George Park Commission, which administers the inspection program.
A series of conversations followed between the Commission and the LGA and its municipal partners who together co-fund the inspection program with New York State. While the Commission couldn’t change the law that established the mandatory inspection dates, they offered to make an inspector and portable boat washing unit available to interested boaters at all state-owned launches, weather permitting, until December 15 this year. The LGA and the municipalities stepped forward with the necessary funding.
“We’re all partners in this. Doing different things perhaps, wearing different hats, but we’re all partners.”
The diligent work by Rosemary to keep invasive species out of our Lake is a prime example of how all of us can — and must — make protection personal to keep our Lake clear and clean for generations to come.
“It only takes one,” she says of the risk posed by unwashed and uninspected boats.
“I saw a need — a data gap — and I saw a way to fill it. That’s what I do,” she adds humbly.
It’s far from the first time she’s led by example when it comes to protecting Lake George.
Keeping Fertilizer Out of Our Lake
In March of 2012, Rosemary and a group of neighbors gathered at the Sans Souci restaurant in Cleverdale to talk about creating a grassroots Lake protection group. When the discussion turned to the dangers of applying lawn fertilizer in close proximity to the Lake, Rosemary drafted and began circulating a petition (“the old-fashioned way,” she notes) asking the Park Commission to enact basin-wide fertilizer regulations like those already in place in the towns of Lake George and Queensbury. That December she presented the document, with more than 500 signatures, at a Park Commission meeting — gift-wrapped, with a satin bow. She’s been a persistent anti-fertilizer advocate ever since, and finally saw her determination rewarded eight years later when the Commission passed new stormwater regulations prohibiting fertilizer use within 50 feet of any waterbody in the Lake George Park.
That same 2012 meeting inspired Rosemary and others to form what is now called the Lake Stewardship Group of Cleverdale, a grassroots collaboration of neighbors that, among other protection efforts, has advocated for a Lake-wide septic system inspection program and coordinates the thrice-yearly effort to harvest invasive Asian clams from Sandy Bay. She’s currently the Chair of the Stewardship Group, and also serves on the Advisory Board and Conservation Committee of the Lake George Land Conservancy.
How Can You Not Give Back?
Rosemary says her commitment to environmental protection blossomed on the quad at Vassar College in 1970 when she joined a celebration for the first Earth Day, but she realizes now that her passion actually took root during childhood summers spent visiting Lake George from her Albany home. After spending most of her professional career in New Jersey and committing herself to environmental causes there, she and her husband, Frank, purchased a summer home in the Town of Lake George in 1980 and moved year-round to Cleverdale 25 years later. When not advocating for the Lake, Rosemary says, you’ll find her swimming or kayaking there, or admiring the blue water from a hiking trail above.
She says whenever she looks at the Lake, she thinks of the “work” she still wants to do to protect it. And she reminds everyone who enjoys its clear, clean waters that they have a responsibility to aid in that protection. “We’re all partners in this,” she says. “Doing different things perhaps, wearing different hats, but we’re all partners.”
“It’s a passionate love and I enjoy so much being here,” she says. “I never thought that I would be able to live in Lake George year-round. This has been a dream come true, so of course I give back. How can you not give back?”