Monday, April 6, 2009

Week of April 6, 2009

Council to remove Egeria densa from lake in New York

Written by Matt Dalen,

With luck, the Three Lakes Council will soon have eradicated an invader to Lake Waccabuc. With no public comments objecting to the plan, and permission from all of the landowners involved, the town Planning Board on Tuesday, March 24 approved the council’s proposal to suck the invasive plant species Egeria densa out of Waccabuc Cove on Lake Waccabuc once the weather warms. The town Planning Board had closed a scheduled public hearing on the plan earlier this month after a short discussion of what the eradication of the plant will entail.

The proposal, which is expected to start in May and last two to three weeks, would involve divers taking suction hoses to the lake bottom over an area of about two acres, trying to remove any and all plant material that could re-start the infestation. Egeria is capable of regrowing from a small fragment of its stem, a feature that makes it desirable in the hobby aquarium but at the same time highly difficult to eradicate once it gets into an ecosystem.

In order to keep any fragments of the plant from escaping during the suctioning, the council has proposed that curtain barriers be placed around the divers performing the procedure as well as a curtain across the cove. The material harvested would go into fine net bags, which would be periodically disposed of in nearby trash bins.

A concern over the ownership of the lake bottom had delayed the approval of the project, but the Planning Board decided that the legal issues could be assuaged with letters of permission from each landowner with property on the cove. That permission has been granted, according to council Vice President Janet Anderson.

The Lake Waccabuc Association recently made a contribution of $2,500 to the Three Lakes Council’s Eradicate Egeria Initiative to help tackle the problem.

“All residents of the three lakes are being encouraged to help in this fund-raising effort.” said Ed Delaney, association president. “Although this plant so far has only been discovered in the north cove, it will eventually spread to all three lakes and it is imperative that the community as a whole deal with the problem.”

To donate to the initiative, send a check to Three Lakes Council — EEI, P.O. Box 241, South Salem, NY 10590.



Natick, Massachusetts commission nears decision on herbicide proposal

By Charlie Breitrose/Daily News staff
MetroWest Daily News

NATICK — Members of the Conservation Commission have yet to make a ruling on a plan to use herbicides in Lake Cochituate, but whichever way they go their decision will likely be appealed.

The commission on Thursday closed its public hearing on the state Department of Conservation and Recreation's plan to use diquat several times over the next five years to control Eurasian milfoil near the beach and boat ramp.

Those areas are on the north side of Middle Pond and the treatment area is within 900 feet of the town's drinking wells.

The commission asked for the Board of Health's ruling about using diquat. Based on the information, said Public Health director Jim White, the Board of Health could not support use of the chemicals.

"What we did is we put the onus on (the state) to 100 percent guarantee to us that diquat would not get into the drinking water," White said.

Warren Lyman, an expert in water chemistry who has been worked with the Board of Health in the past, said he could not recommend using the chemicals, based on the information he reviewed, White said.

The Board of Health's vote is a recommendation, White said, and the Conservation Commission is not bound to it. If the Conservation Commission approves use of diquat, the Board of Health could appeal the decision in court, but White said that is highly unlikely.

Conservation Commission member Kathy Rehl said she has similar concerns about the chemical getting into the water system.

"I have worked with plants for years and I have seen one chemical after another outlawed because they are found to cause cancer," Rehl said. "I have a real aversion to putting chemicals in a lake were we have wells."

When the proposal came to the Conservation Commission two weeks ago, people opposing and those supporting the use of chemicals gave testimony for about two hours. The appeals continued Thursday night.

Anne Monnelly, acting director of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation's water resources office, said the state had tried several non-chemical efforts to remove the milfoil, including a water circulator called a Solar Bee and placing mats over the weeds to kill them. Nothing has succeeded.

"At the request of citizens, we tried two years of the Solar Bee, three years of benthic matting and three years of hand pulling," Monnelly said. "If there was another large-scale technique that would be appropriate, I would try it."

Benthic mats block the sun, which stymies plant growth.

When the Conservation Commission approved the state's proposal to use diquat a few years ago, a group called Protect Our Water Resources appealed, and the chemical wasn't used.

Conservation Commissioner Matthew Gardner said another appeal is likely if diquat is approved.
He asked Monnelly if the state would consider dropping its proposal because an appeal is almost a certainty. Monnelly said no.

"Our thought is if you deny it, we're likely to appeal (the Conservation Commission's ruling)," Monnelly said. "We would like a ruling from the Department of Environmental Protection."
Some people have said the Conservation Commission should allow chemicals near the beach, because a swimmer could get tangled in the weeds and drown.

Martin Levin, a lawyer representing Protect Our Water Resources, said that should not be part of the commission's decision.

Levin said the onus is on the state to clear the weeds from the beach to make it safe for swimming.

"I think it is really an issue of money. The DCR is saying we don't have the money for any alternative," Levin said. "If they can't control the weeds then maybe they can't allow people to swim."
John Dwinnell, district manager for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation region that includes Lake Cochituate, said he expects use of the beach to skyrocket with the bad economy.

Most years the park draws 150,000 visitors. This year officials predict it could go as high as 250,000.

Protect Our Water Resources and the town had applied for a state grant to buy a weed-suction boat, called a DASH boat, but the proposal was denied. Monnelly said she is working with the group to see if the plan can be revived.

"We will continue to work on the DASH boat project," Monnelly said. "We are willing to do a pilot project."

The Conservation Commission also heard more comments about scientific studies showing either that diquat is safe to use or that it could pose a danger to humans.

After the public input, Conservation Commission member Douglas Shepard said he was ready to close the hearing.

"This is a typical scientific issue where you have 800 scientists on this side that say this, and 800 on that side," Shepard said.

The board will take up the proposal again April 15.



The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid has arrived in the Finger Lakes region: Monitors needed

While not a new pest for our partners downstate, the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid was recently discovered in the Finger Lakes, New York. Please help us spread the word and rally volunteers to participate in a monitoring program by disseminating the attached fact sheet (text below) and Web resources developed by Mark Whitmore, Cornell Dept of Natural Resources.


Holly Menninger, Ph.D.
Senior Extension Associate and NY Invasive Species Research Institute Coordinator
Department of Natural Resources
Cornell University
110 Rice Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
Phone: 607.254.6789
Fax: 607.255.0349

The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), Adelges tsugae, is here! It was detected for the first time in the Finger Lakes in 2008. The HWA is an invasive forest pest imported from Asia that has been killing Hemlock trees on the east coast, often eliminating them in entire watersheds. It is a tiny aphid-like insect that forms waxy wool on Hemlock twigs at the base of the needles. The HWA will infest Hemlocks of all sizes and is readily detected on lower branches in winter and spring.

There are no area wide treatments for the HWA in Hemlock forests at this time. The only practical options are for the treatment of individual trees. Chemical treatment of urban or landscaping trees is effective and long-lasting. However, tactics for area wide control in forests that are currently under investigation, such as biological control and pathogenic fungi, will take time to fully develop and implement. We need to slow the spread of this devastating pest to buy the time necessary to complete these projects. Researchers at Cornell University, NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, and the US Forest Service are trying to determine the full extent of the HWA’s distribution in the Finger Lakes.

We would like anyone capable of recognizing the HWA to report BOTH positive and negative sightings. If you wish to volunteer with others organized by Cornell Plantations to inspect important local Hemlock forests please go to: report positive and negative sightings and to find further information about the HWA please visit:


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