Taking Milfoil Down

Amanda May Metzger
February 3, 2015
Officials around Lake George are anticipating 2015 to be the best year yet for Eurasian watermilfoil removal.
Some sites where growth has become denser prove more challenging than others. The Shepard Park area is one. It's actually under the Fund for Lake George management instead of the Lake George Park Commission because the Fund has taken on the task of getting the denser areas under control while the Park Commission focuses on clearing up moderate and sparce areas, and there are more than 150 of those, which is significantly down from last year.
In 2014 Aquatic Invasive Management, the company that contracts with the LGPC, Fund and LGA for milfoil removal harvested the 14 acre site at Shepard Park in May collecting a total of 60 bags. The plants grow through the season, so they're typically smaller in the beginning. Divers harvested again in September and October at this particular site, collecting a total of 513 bags.
To make a real difference, AIM said a harvest is needed between that Memorial Day to Labor Day season ­­ perhaps in July ­­ to see stop the significant regrowth and respread ofmilfoil. That can be tricky in popular areas of the lake.
Lake George Park Commission Executive Director Dave Wick said every year the agency fields 30 to 40 calls from lake shore property owners who report a possible milfoil sighting, though it doesn't always turn out to be the Eurasian watermilfoil. “Eurasian watermilfoil is a non­native, invasive plant. We don't have some of the natural biological controls it has inits native habitat. Like any invader, without that competition, it grows more aggressively than the native plants. It will basically take over that area more rapidly than a native colony. Non­ native plants aren't necessarily a bad thing for a water body,” Wick said, but when it's bullish like milfoil and crowds out other plantlife, it's bad news.
Curly­leaf pondweed is another one of the five recorded invasives in lake George, but it's not as aggressive in this lake as milfoil. “The differences between different water bodies is complicated. Milfoil is very aggressive. The next tier of aggressiveness is hydrilla,” Wick said. Hydrilla has wreaked havoc on other water bodies and it requires a chemical offense. “We've never done, nor have we ever, been allowed to do a chemical treatment in Lake George,” Wick said.
Back to Eurasion watermilfoil. Wick said it can impede recreational use as it grows to certain densities. It's tough to boatthrough. It's nasty and can be dangerous to swim in, and it pushes out native plants. There are places where it has gotten so thick machines are needed to cut through it, like in this video.

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