Began the week taking advantage of calm weather to spot harvest in Little Square Bay. Found a total of 55 plants ranging from short, single stems in the shallows to 6-foot tall multi stemmed plants along the “tongue” portion. Shifted to the bay northeast of Buck Island, finding 8 plants along its north shore, 1 plant in the shallows and 25 plants along its southern shore. Plants along the southern shore were mixed in with lily pads and appeared to be older growth, with multiple stems. Swam the east side of Buck Island finding 9 plants. Shifted to Fish Creek Bay and swam its shoreline. Found 3 plants in near the swimming area by The Point, and 5 plants in the Western area of the bay, in the shallows.
Total plant count: 106
Finished swimming the southern shoreline of Fish Creek Bay, finding 1 plant in the last cove along the way to Donaldson’s marina. Swam the large patch of bass weed in front of Donaldson’s utilizing a line-swimming pattern to ensure complete coverage. Found only 2 plants, 1 being 7 feet tall with 2 stems, and the other was 1 foot tall and single stemmed. Shifted to the 2 bays south of Bungalow bay finding a total of 5 plants near the rock pile in the northern part of the lower bay. 3 of the plants were short while the other 2 were tall with up to 4 stems. Moved to the southern shoreline in the South Basin finding 30 plants. Found an overlooked patch of milfoil a few hundred yards off shore, approximately half way down the shoreline which was mixed in with tall bass weed in about 12 feet of water. Found another 50 plants in this area, which averaged 7 feet tall with 2-3 stems. Finished the day with line swimming North Gull Bay, finding a total of 9 plants. Most of the plants were short with 1-2 stems with a few tall plants up to 6 feet.
Total plant count: 97
Utilized calm weather to spot harvest in the North Basin, finding 24 plants. Average height was 5 feet with 2 to 4 stems. Removed 6 plants in an area previously marked from the surface along the west side of Buck Island. Plants were single stemmed and ranged from 1 to 6 feet tall. Shifted to the Bay north of Bottle Bay, finding 2 plants along its southern shore and 5 plants along its band of bass weed. Plants were single stemmed and ranged from 2-5 feet tall. Swam South Gull Bay using a line swimming technique. Found a total of 45 plants, which were primarily near the southern area of the bay. Plants were mostly single stemmed, ranging from 1 to 7 feet tall. Finished the day swimming the rock-pile north of Birch Island and the cove to its Northeast but found no plants.
Total plant count: 82
Spent the day thoroughly covering Fish Creek Pond. Found plants to be concentrated in two main areas: the southwest corner and the northern shoreline. Found 25 plants in the southwest corner, typically mixed in with lily pads and no more than 4 feet tall with 1-2 stems. Found 60 plants along the northern shoreline, many of which were mixed in with lily pads and native plants in less than a foot of water. Plants averaged 2 feet tall with up to 5 stems
Total plant count: 85
Weekly plant count : 370
Weekly Bag count: 1 ¼ 31.25 lbs
This report is submitted to show total progress to date on lake-wide Eurasian milfoil management on Upper Saranac Lake. The report has been produced by Aquatic Invasive Management, LLC and is only reflective of records gathered and reported by AIM.
The graph below shows the total bags harvested each week from week 1 to week 10 in the past three years on Upper Saranac Lake. The X axis is the week number and the Y axis is the bag amount.
Thus far 2013 shows lower bag totals by week than the previous two years which is indicative of a reduced milfoil population and lower density of milfoil growth.
The chart above illustrates that the total weight of milfoil removed from Upper Saranac Lake by week 10 of the past three years has been in steady decline with 2013 as the lowest total. This is another indication of lower milfoil population numbers and densities.
So far 2013 shows the lowest bag count by week and by total of any of the past three years. This is a great sign no matter how you look at it. It tells us a couple of things:
- The plants are not dense
- The plants are not being allowed to become dense
So in other words, between our dive crew and Guy Middleton we are staying on top of all mifoil growth lake-wide. We are not allowing it to go un-harvested for long enough to get big and bushy and that means far less natural fragmentation is occurring. Less fragmentation equals less spread and fewer surprise appearances of milfoil in previously un-infested areas.
When looking at the harvest maps side by side it looks like some areas are thinner in 2013 and some are thicker and some are new and some old ones are gone. It is important to remember that we mark all plant growth harvested the same way whether it is old or young, big or small. We try to represent its density by clustering our waypoints close together. On a map at this scale a “red blob” can look like it must mean dense milfoil when it actually is only showing a small amount of individual plants over a large area. Once you make the points visible on a map and zoom the map out it appears as if they are one continuous blob. The following is a link to the interactive version of the 10 week map which allows you to zoom in and see how the data looks up close:
Milfoil management on Upper Saranac in 2012 was a true stress test for our two-diver system working in tandem with Guy Middleton’s surface spotting. It was a test that we passed, despite a time in August when all of us were a little worried that we would need to re-visit the drawing board. It was a test because of the runoff from storms in 2011, putting high nutrient loads into the water column, the notably weak winter in terms of ice cover and temperature and the phenomenally good growing season for aquatic plants, thanks to abundant sunlight and warmth. Our team began the season by hitting the key areas that produce consistent growth and removed many plants as they were just starting to grow in the spring. As the season progressed, the visibility allowed Guy to start surface spotting. When he located plants, our team would respond to them first and then resume their standard removal work throughout the lake.
In August, we got a shock when Little Square Bay suddenly had 10 foot tall, multi-stem plants scattered throughout the Tongue area of the bay. We doubled our crews for one week and hit the bay hard, and, once it was cleared out, we took a look at how it happened. Little Square was left alone for three weeks and, in such a short time, was able to produce large plants. Normally, we would have hit the bay after one week or so and would have found the same number of plants but in much smaller sizes, adding up to far fewer bags. August was the peak of ideal plant growth conditions this season, and, as a result, Little Square produced some tall, healthy plants in very little time. We gave our crew leaders a spreadsheet that was maintained day to day, to keep track of the frequency with which specific areas of the lake were being harvested. The areas were prioritized by how much growth they usually produce. With this easy to use record of our harvesting operations, the crew leaders could make sure that no top priority areas (such as Little Square) were left alone for too long.
With a small crew capable of moving quickly from location to location, we knew they could be very flexible, meaning they could switch from one objective to another easily. We decided to prioritize their work in order of importance.
- Rapid response calls verified as milfoil by Guy Middleton
- Buoys dropped by Guy Middleton
- Key areas known to produce consistent milfoil growth
By prioritizing this way, we knew that rapid response calls would get the necessary “rapid” response. We also knew that any growth, easily seen from the surface, is therefore a concern for fragmentation and for the possibility of much more low lying growth in its vicinity. Therefore, Guy’s surface spots received the next level of importance to ensure that nothing was getting ahead of us. Finally, we always know where to find the milfoil, and, once all other priorities were met, the crew could commit to coverage swimming key areas.
We have decided to adjust our harvest priorities going into 2013 to reflect the need for repeat harvests of critical areas. When a crew leader sees the need to clear an area, such as Little Square, they will prioritize that above clearing Guy’s buoys. However, the buoys will not be ignored for more than one week. The use of a spreadsheet to keep track of what has been cleared, and when, will help make these decisions easy.
As our crew found milfoil, the surface tender would collect GPS waypoints that would characterize the overall spread of the growth and its density. In other words, a dense area of growth would receive a dense cluster of GPS waypoints, and a sparse area would receive sparse waypoints over the exact locations where plants were being picked.
This data was then converted into maps that could both represent the work completed by our crew and provide us with real time data on where the most growth was occurring and recurring.
Fig I: Total GPS harvest points from 2011 and 2012. Maps include all collected points over the entirety of each year.
Fig II: Total bag harvests by week (weeks 1-20) and month for 2011 and 2012.
Fig III: Bag harvest totals for 2010, 2011 and 2012 4 diver crew 4 diver crew – 2.00 4.00 6.00 8.00 10.00 12.00 14.00 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 May June July August September Week Number and Month Weekly bag harvests over 20 weeks in 2011 and 2012 145.00 73.00 72.00 2010 2011 2012
Fig IV: Milfoil harvested in pounds versus diver hours worked from 2004 to 201
Fig IV: Milfoil harvested in pounds versus diver hours worked from 2004 to 2012
Discussion of Trends
In Fig I, the comparison is shown between 2011 and 2012 in total GPS points collected and mapped. Each year shows the same key, dense areas, such as Little Square Bay, Pork Bay, Square Bay, East side of Buck Island, etc. In 2012, there is a notable increase in point density in Little Square Bay, the East Side of Buck Island and the West side of the Narrows. As mentioned in the introduction, this was an exceptional growing season, and it was seen across the board in the form of fast growing plants. We also found a lot more growth pushing into deeper water (sometimes as much as 18 feet), thanks to good sunlight and high water temperatures. The area on the West side of the Narrows was a surprise discovery during normal coverage swimming. The plants were past the normal depth drop-off where a “hump” rises up again, providing shallow enough water for good plant growth.
In Fig II, the bag count trend for 2011 and 2012 is shown over the course of the 20 week season. In 2012, there is clear increase in bag harvests in late July and August. This was when the Little Square plant growth spiked, and we doubled our crews for a week. During that week, one crew focused on Little Square, while the other continued harvesting Guy’s buoys and key areas. This is a strategy we can use every season as needed. By September, growth was back to low levels.
Fig III, shows the bag totals from 2010 to 2012. Despite our concerns during the increased growth in August, we removed one less bag in 2012 than in 2011. The fact that our bag counts are so close between the two years indicates a successful strategy. If the number had increased in 2012, we would 0.00 5,000.00 10,000.00 15,000.00 20,000.00 25,000.00 30,000.00 35,000.00 40,000.00 45,000.00 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Milfoil Harvested (lbs) Diver Hrs (hrs worked) be examining the possibility that we were losing ground. The reports from our crews indicated that our system was working well. Now we can see that the data supports our field observations.
Fig IV shows our milfoil harvested versus diver hours worked graph from 2004 to 2012 on Upper Saranac Lake. In 2010, we saw the diver hours trend continue downward, yet saw an increase in milfoil harvested. The immediate concern was the possibility that milfoil growth was increasing with our reduction in diver time. While it may have appeared this way on the graph, we felt strongly that in 2010 we were simply picking more milfoil in more areas because our new methods allowed us to. In other words, the diver time was being invested more on harvesting than searching. In addition, we felt that in 2010 we were catching up on growth that had not been completely controlled in previous years, when we were trying to develop an ideal lake-wide management strategy for the maintenance phase.
The 2011 data, when added to the long term graph, showed a trend in the right direction. In addition to the continued downward trend in diver time, the milfoil harvested trend dips significantly. Now, with 2012 on the graph, we see a slight decrease in both diver hours and milfoil harvested. The two actually form a near perfect 1:1 ratio. We have begun to rely on this ratio as an indicator of a successful maintenance phase and are seeing the same results on Minerva and Brant Lake.
2012 cemented our faith in the two-diver system. The season was a full spectrum stress test for our work, and the result was a slight reduction in overall harvest totals, and a slight reduction in overall diver hours. We will proceed with the same 20 week schedule in 2013. As with the past two years, if the need arises, we will double crews to deal with a spike in growth. If 2013 proves to be a milder growing season, we may start to push the growth down to much lower levels. However, if we face another warm and sunny summer, our system has been proven to work. Ideally, over the next two seasons, we will be able to reduce growth levels to the point where a reduction in diver time may be possible.
We would like to thank the Upper Saranac Lake Foundation for working with us since 2008 and allowing us the leeway to make changes as needed. Thanks to you, we have a business born from the successes of early milfoil work on the lake. Thanks to you, we have been able to hone in on the best ways to manage a maintenance-phase milfoil problem. In all of our projects statewide, we refer to our lessons learned on Upper Saranac. We would like to thank Guy Middleton for being a huge asset in the hunt for milfoil lake-wide. He keeps a constant flow of buoys and maps coming to our dive leaders and makes it possible for us to suppress growth all over the lake, without losing track of any problem areas. Without his diligence, many areas would not have received the attention they needed, when they needed it.
The summer of 2011 was a breakthrough season for the Foundation’s Milfoil Control Program. The new program, designed by Aquatic Invasive Management (AIM), of two divers, working four, 10 hour days, for 20 weeks was a great success. Compared with 2010, when there were larger teams for shorter periods, the amount of Milfoil Harvested in 2011 was over 50% less than in 2010.
The primary reason for this improvement was greater efficiency in locating and harvesting Milfoil before it grew into larger plants and greater density. Several factors contributed. The Community was vigilant in reporting Milfoil sightings. The Lake Manager, Guy Middleton, was extremely effective responding to the “Rapid Response” calls and in his extensive deployment of buoys marking areas where he visually found Milfoil. Guy commented that he found only one or two new locations during the entire summer. As a result, the divers were able spend their time harvesting and not searching for Milfoil. In addition, having the same divers annually increases their effectiveness. Guy and the divers, through their extensive time on the Lake know every area of potential Milfoil growth.
In short, fewer divers, spending more time on the Lake and harvesting, combined with their knowledge of the Lake and Guy’s buoys, allowed the divers to stay ahead of the Milfoil growth and regrowth. Thus plant size and densities were significantly reduced. As Dan Kelting (Adirondack Watershed Institute) said in his 2011 USL Plant Monitoring Report, “Average Milfoil density in 2011 was lower than 2010, indicating that the management team was able to reverse the increasing trend in the preceding three years”.
This summer, we will repeat the 2011 Program. The years of experience, testing and refinement, by AIM and Guy, have lead to an efficient and effective means of controlling Milfoil infestation of the Lake. Diving began on May 14th this year and will continue through the week of September 24th.
While on the water, we implore Lake residents and guests to be aware of divers working underwater. Please watch for these locations marked by the international diver flag. Stay away at least 300 feet to avoid injury to our divers.
Please remember that you, the Lake Community, are an integral and important part of the Program’s success. Please report any suspected Milfoil sightings to Guy. Go to www.uslf.org for contact information. On the web site, you can follow the summer’s progress with bi-weekly reports and maps under “Milfoil Current”. Reports from last year and Dan Kelting’s Monitoring Report can be found there as well. In addition, Guy’s periodic “Lake Manager Articles” and “Water Quality” reports are listed below “Milfoil Current”.
Finally, none of these activities would be possible without your generous support and involvement. We thank you.
The Upper Saranac Lake Foundation’s 2012 Milfoil Control Program is now half way through its 20 week schedule. After 10 weeks of diving, the Program is on schedule, on budget and working better than expected. The Program continues to use a two diver and one top water support person, as we have done for the last two years.
The fourth member, Lake Manager Guy Middleton, remains critical to the success and efficiency of the dive team and its harvesting. Guy’s visual sighting and buoy marking of Milfoil, Lake wide, directs the divers to active locations, saving them time by not having to search for new and recurrent growth areas.
Following the mild and almost snowless winter, an early and warm spring and dry weather, we anticipated early and vigorous growing season. What has been experienced is as expected, but the good news is that the density of Milfoil is less than last year. What is being found are largely smaller (and is some cases single) plants that are new re-growth. There are relatively few stands of mature growth.
On the other side of the coin, Milfoil is being found in new areas of the Lake, but, again, they are small or single patches. While the total amount of Milfoil removed through the first half of the diving season is less compared to the same period a year ago, the divers are covering much more territory. In addition, we are now entering the summer’s most vigorous growing season, where we expect the weekly bag count to increase.
Guy has received a number of “Rapid Response” reports from shore owners of possible Milfoil plants. Many have been Milfoil, while others have been non-invasive, natural Lake vegetation. This is a key part of our entire Control Program. Please do not hesitate to contact Guy: 518-796-1052 or email@example.com.
You can follow the progress of the next 10 weeks of Harvesting reports and maps at www.uslf.org – “Milfoil- Current”. The same information may also be found on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Upper Saranac Lake Foundation. These reports and maps will be updated weekly through Labor Day and bi-weekly thereafter.
The Foundation greatly appreciates the support of the Lake Community. Our Milfoil Control Program would not exist, or be successful, without you.
The Upper Saranac Lake Foundation has received a grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program. A $15,000 grant was awarded to the USLF for its Milfoil Control and Spread Prevention Program. This one time / 12-month grant was awarded to improve the Foundations efforts to control invasive species, prevent further spreading of Eurasian Water Milfoil and to increase the efficiency of our proven hand-harvesting methods and to increase public awareness and education.
Thank you to the Upper Saranac Lake Association members and all supporters who made donations to the USLF for the milfoil program. These donations were a deciding factor, leveraging the LCBP in awarding this grant to the USLF. Without the support that you provided, both financially and morally, the USLF would not have been able to prove need for these funds.
Essentially, this grant will extend the milfoil harvesting dive season longer than previous years. The divers will be harvesting milfoil into October this year.
The grant was awarded to the USLF based on the efforts and compilations of Peter Woll, Charlie Sheerin and Guy Middleton.
The summer season is in full swing and shore owners have proven vigilant in their commitment to fight Eurasian milfoil infestation on Upper Saranac Lake. To date, I have received numerous calls and confirmed positive identification of this invasive species along various areas of the lake. This information has been forwarded to the diving team and, while some milfoil has already been removed, I am anticipating the speedy response of the diving team to manage the remaining removal/harvesting. Additional reports of shoreline cutting and growth of the Purple Loosestrife (a lesser known invasive weed) have also been received. Your continued support and concerns for lake preservation are appreciated.
For further information contact: Guy Middleton, Lake Manager 796-1052
There have been numerous inquiries regarding the use of Weevils in the fight against Milfoil. Here is some information that leads the Foundation to believe that Weevils are not the answer for Upper Saranac Lake. Weevils cost a little over $1/bug and require 2-3,000 Weevils per acre to be effective. Upper Saranac Lake is over 5,050 acres in total, although the entire lake would not need to be treated, it is not easily determined exactly how many acres would need to be treated to be effective. With over 44 miles of shoreline, total acreage requiring treatment could easily exceed over 1,000 acres. There is also the potential to restock weevils over several years. Weevils have been effective in some places, but not others, and it seems that the scientist cannot yet predict where they will be successful. It is known that Weevils are most useful in dense growth areas. Fortunately through effective hand harvesting; milfoil on Upper Saranac Lake is no longer in these thick beds. Milfoil, although still a persistent problem, is currently located randomly throughout the lake. It is not uncommon to see individual plants growing with no other plants for hundreds of yards around. In these cases weevils would not be effective as they would not migrate such distances in search of their food source and it is not reasonable to transport weevils to individual plants. Furthermore a Cornell study says that there may be no LONG term reduction in milfoil from the weevils even if there is short-term success.
There is also the hesitation of introducing something into our waters that, although native to North America, is not currently here in Upper Saranac Lake. Past history of doing such introductions on occasion has had long term negative impacts on native populations of fish or animals.
We think it’s important to continue to look at options and adapt as the milfoil evolves. The Foundation still believes that hand harvesting is the most effective, logistically and cost wise, for the control of milfoil. The divers are continually changing the methods they use for harvesting to be more efficient. Next year they are introducing a communication system allowing them to talk to one another underwater as well as surface crew.
Some lake residents have expressed concern about areas of milfoil in the lakes tributaries and its potential threat to the Upper Lake. One particular area of worry is Fish Creek, upstream of the campground. Currently the Upper Saranac Lake Foundation harvests Milfoil from the entire Upper Lake and Fish Creek Pond East of Route 30, not any further upstream. Fish Creek is one possible way milfoil enters the Upper Lake but preliminary studies show it has little impact. Interestingly enough there is no Milfoil between Fish Creek Ponds and the Upper Lake. If Fish Creek was a major contributor one would think that this portion of the creek would have Milfoil. The reality is that Milfoil is currently in the Upper Lake; we are beyond the point of trying to prevent its introduction and can only control its spread. Milfoil growth in Upper Saranac Lake is primarily from fragmentation of existing plants and has limited new introduction.
In what’s being considered a precedent setting decision, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has approved the use of a chemical aquatic herbicide to control Eurasian Water Milfoil in the Adirondack Park. Chemical means of combating aquatic invasive flora have never been allowed in the park prior to now. Although a controversial method of Milfoil control, the Town of Lake Luzerne, just west of Lake George, has been approved to apply 1,560 pounds of the chemical Triclopyr on 11 of the lake’s 111 acres this coming May. The approved Lake Luzerne location site is an area of dense milfoil and is in a relatively secluded area of the lake that has little water flow. During treatment, a sequestering curtain will be placed at the mouth of the treated bay separating the rest of the lake.
As water is obviously one of Adirondack’s most precious resources, the approval of the brand name chemical Renovate OTF has brought up concerns from environmental groups, such as the Adirondack Council who opposes its use. The issues include the fact that Triclopry is designed to target broadleaved dichotic plants such as Milfoil. The chemical does not exclusively target Milfoil, and there is a potential impact on nontarget plants as well as aquatic organisms. In addition, it is slightly toxic to Mallard ducks. The Federal Government warns against using any water treated for any irrigation purposes for 4 months after treatment ends, and swimming is prohibited for 72 hours. Although drinking water is not a concern for Lake Luzerne, as they do not use the lake water for consumption, it would obviously be an issue for other lakes including Upper Saranac Lake.
Triclopyr has been used elsewhere outside the park in the past. Saratoga Lake began treatment in 2008 with mixed results. The need to reapply yearly, as well as the on going use of mechanical harvesters continues.
Although Lake Luzerne feels that this might be their answer to combating the invasive Milfoil problem, there will still be a re-occurring financial and a potential environmental toll. Luzerne has tried the more traditional hand harvesting approach and the use of benthic barriers on the lake bottom similar to Upper Saranac Lake, but was not able to stay ahead of the growing problem. This is something to keep in mind. If Upper Saranac Lake is left unattended for even a short period of time, we may have to revert to more desperate forms of eradication. A one time cost for the 11 acres in Lake Luzerne is estimated between $15,000 and $20,000. Upper Saranac Lake, with a total of 5,000 acres, has an estimated 1,250 acres of potential Milfoil habitat. For Upper Saranac Lake the cost of herbicidal treatment could cost close to 2 million dollars.
The jury is still out on the use of aquatic herbicides. It is something that the Upper Saranac Lake Foundation will keep a close eye on.
Summer Recap from your Lake Manager, Guy Middleton:
I want to thank everyone for contributing to the wonderful and enjoyable summer I experienced as Lake Manager. Although it was a fantastic summer capped with numerous sunny days and warm weather, it was truly a very stressful summer for the Lake itself. The Lake saw water levels the highest ever recorded this spring, caused by extreme snow melt and heavy rains. This run-off brought added nutrient and phosphorus deposits. The greater runoff came from natural run-off (wetlands), as well as man-made sources (septic, fertilizers, and increased erosion). These impacts are known to contribute to increase weed growth and algae blooms. Many shareowners reported to me an increase in weeds, compared to previous years, and there was also a noticeable increase of algae adhering to aquatic plants.
The Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CLSAP), plus testing by Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smiths, have shown negative impacts on the Lake from this year’s runoff as well. Perhaps the most evident to us would be water clarity. Dissolved oxygen content was low in the deeper waters. Oxygen is critical to the growth, reproduction, and survival of aquatic organisms and is required for the respiration of all aerobic organisms, such as fish. In late August, encouraged by warm temperatures and calm winds, the Lake saw a fish die-off of a couple hundred smelt at the north end of the Lake. This is attributed to oxygen depletion.
This year’s high water levels also put additional stress on the Dam that holds back as much as four feet of the Lake’s water surface. Any concern about the USL dam’s integrity for a catastrophic failure was alleviated with the foresight of the USLF, who rebuilt the dam in 1994. With that said, stressed and failed dams throughout the Adirondack Park have increased the importance of the USLF’s implementation of a Dam Safety Inspection and Maintenance Plan and the emplacement of a USLF Dam Emergency Action Plan. These measures include: engineering studies, reports and inspections, state processing requirements, obtaining permits, masonry repair and renovation of the dam’s access road. Past and planed restoration actions are from your donations and contributions. With your continued generosity, and the Upper Saranac Lake Association’s “Matching Fund Initiative”, we can assure that the Bartlett Carry Dam will continue to maintain the integrity and serenity of Upper Saranac Lake for generations to come.
Most recently, hurricane Irene’s impact seemed to be minor for USL, especially compared to nearby Lake Placid and Keene. The Lake did rise almost 4 inches, and with that came more runoff and nutrient and phosphorus deposits. With all this going on, the USLF still continues its focus towards Invasive Species awareness, education, prevention and the Milfoil harvesting project. There are a lot of threats that can compromise our Lake’s environment – not just Milfoil. These threats have the potential to impact us as much as Milfoil has, if not more. For example, Lake George is looking to spend up to one million dollars this summer for the eradication of Asian Clams that were introduced just last year. As Invasive Species continue to encroach on the Adirondacks, it is important to increase our understanding of the potential challenges they bring to our waters. In doing so, the USLF is preparing a Readiness Plan for combating Invasive Species that includes identifying, prevention, early detection and rapid response with the intent to thwart off and/or eradicate any new threats to USL.
As part of the awareness process the USLF provided hands-on educational field work for local school children, participated in the Invasive Species Awareness Week with a invasive educational paddle opportunity up Fish Creek and provided an invasive educational hands-on and publication display at the WILD Center in Tupper Lake at the Association Meetings.
The USLF also applied for, and received, a grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program. A $15,000 grant was awarded to the USLF for its Milfoil Control and Spread Prevention Program, with the intent to improve the Foundation’s efforts to control Invasive Species, prevent further spreading of Eurasian Water Milfoil and to increase the efficiency of our hand-harvesting methods. Essentially, this grant has extended the Milfoil harvesting dive season longer than previous years. The divers will be harvesting Milfoil into October this year.
The harvesting of Milfoil on USL continues to be the model for Milfoil control throughout the Northeast. The current, proven, effective program incorporates identifying locations through surface spotting and shore owner rapid response calls, marking with “Milfoil Project” buoys that identify Milfoil locations, and mapping. This is followed by a three diver rapid response team from AIM (Aquatic Invasive Management) that quickly harvests the invasive plants.
If we all work together to widen the awareness and spread prevention of Invasive Species, we really can make a difference. Everyone can keep an eye out for new and unusual plants growing along their shoreline and utilize the Rapid Response system we have in place by calling me at 518 796-1052.
When nature increases its harshness, we can all help out by restricting and slowing runoff, by limiting impervious surfaces such as paved roads or walk ways, utilizing vegetative barriers such as a rain garden to slow runoff, direct any runoff from impervious surfaces, such as roofs, away from the shoreline, consider bank stabilization efforts to limit erosion. In addition, check to make sure your septic system is in good working order and refrain from fertilizing your lawn. Getting your septic system pumped every two years will be a great contribution to protecting the Lake’s water quality for all. Together we can make a difference.
Thanks again for another productive summer. I especially want to thank those of you who I had the pleasure to meet and talk to, who are as passionate as I am about maintaining the quality of Upper Saranac Lake and its shore line. I would also like to thank all of those who contacted me with Rapid Response calls for milfoil sightings, concerns regarding possible violations of ordinances/regulations and general environmental inquires – all for the benefit of the Lake.Guy Middleton Lake Manager email
I want to thank everyone for contributing to the wonderful and enjoyable summer I experienced as Lake Manager. It was truly a fantastic summer capped with numerous sunny days and warm, clear water. I have had the pleasure to meet and talk to many concerned and caring lake residents who are as passionate as I am about maintaining the quality of Upper Saranac Lake and its shore line.
I especially want to thank all of those who contacted me with Rapid Response calls for milfoil sightings, concerns regarding possible violations of ordinances/regulations and general environmental inquires – all for the benefit of the lake. The question that continues to arise is how are we doing with the milfoil; is there more, is it under control? The fact of the matter is we will be harvesting approximately 1,000 pounds more milfoil this year, than last. Why is this? One possible reason includes what could have been a better growing season due to warmer and clearer water. Another reason may be explained by the better water visibility that allowed us to spot milfoil easier. I have been able to locate over 170 milfoil locations around the lake. These areas were marked by the “Milfoil Project” buoys that identify the location for our dive teams.
Possibly the greatest reason for increased harvesting amounts are the more evolved techniques and practices being utilized by our divers, AIM (Aquatic Invasive Management). We are now utilizing underwater microphone communications and the implementation of a swift action two diver rapid response team that can quickly move to identified milfoil locations for harvesting. Our divers have also covered the entire 44 mile circumference of the lake, something that didn’t happen last year.
The increased productivity doesn’t indicate, by any means, that we are losing control. In fact, the increase is possibly an indication we may even be catching up on what has been missed in previous years. Upper Saranac Lake continues to be the model for milfoil control throughout the Northeast.
With this said, we continue to ask for your support, not only financially but also in identifying issues. Unfortunately the number of Rapid Response calls reporting milfoil has dropped which is surprising as the productivity of the plants has increased. I feel that it is more important now than ever to keep an eye on the lake and report anything that seems out of the ordinary. There are a lot of threats that can compromise our lakes environment – not just milfoil. These threats have the potential to impact us as much as milfoil has, if not more. We need to stay diligent, aware and conscientious of these threats as they grow closer to our doorstep. Despite all the resources going into invasive species prevention, invasive species are still making headway. Within the park we can now add to the list the following unwelcome threats;
- Asian clams in Lake George: Their waste can/has triggered algae blooms, clogged water intake pipes and the sharp shells befoul swimming beaches. These mollusks’s have the ability to self-fertilize and release up to 2,000 juveniles per day.
- Spiny Water Flee now in the Great Sacandaga Lake is an invasive zooplankton that affects the food web. The invasion of this species is ecologically harmful, because it competes with native species near the base of the food chain. They are also a serious nuisance in recreational fishing because their bodies collect on and compromise fishing gear.
- Zebra mussels were recently found entering Lake Placid. Upper Saranac Lake currently doesn’t see a threat from Zebra mussels due to our lake’s low calcium levels which discourage their growth. We do need to be concerned with Quagga mussels a distant cousin of the Zebra mussel which is now in Seneca Lake. They are considered invasive because of their potential to cause economic and ecological damage. They lack natural predators, increasing their ability for proliferating and spreading, clogging intake pipes and disrupting native ecosystems.
- Brittle Naiad has recently been found in Hadlock Pond and Lake George. Brittle Naiad, similar to milfoil, inhibits and crowds out growth of native aquatic plants and can make fishing and boating access difficult.
The list of constant threats can be overwhelming and these are just a few that have been identified “close to home.” So what can you do? Prevention is the most effective control. Boaters, anglers and other recreational enthusiasts need to take precautions to avoid transporting these and other invasive species. In fact the Town of Santa Clara has just passed an aquatic invasive species prevention law making it unlawful to transport invasive species.
We need to educate ourselves and our neighbors about invasive species. Early detection is the next impediment to invasive species. Everyone can keep an eye out for new and unusual plants growing along their shoreline. Utilize the rapid response system we have in place by calling me at 518 796-1052. If we all work together to spread the word about invasive species and how we can help stop their spread, we really can make a difference.Guy Middleton Lake Manager
A concern that was brought to my attention late in summer of 2009 was the lack of frogs in Spring Pond, a small tributary at the north end of the lake off of Back Bay. I had an opportunity to investigate and although I didn’t notice any frogs myself, I did see plenty of wildlife. It is not surprising that there are no frogs visible at this time of year and obviously all egg masses and tadpoles would be gone by this time as well. I did see Blue Herron, King Fisher, geese and plenty of small fish.
Overall amphibians seem to be declining throughout North America and no one is sure exactly why, global warming, natural cycles, pollution? Although there didn’t seem to be any frogs in Spring Pond this year it is unlikely they are gone completely but there is a good chance that they may be decreasing. The fact that there are predators to the frogs in the pond is a good sign.
Unfortunately there are no immediate and definitive answers to the change in Spring Pond. Be assured there is a commitment to the continued monitoring of the Pond with special attention next spring during the active frog season. The DEC has been consulted; they stated that unless there is a thorough density study it is not easy to determine population trends. They did commit to me that they would join me next spring when the frogs are active in the mating season in determining what species are present in the pond.
I want to thank everyone who contributed to a wonderful and enjoyable first summer as Lake Manager. I have had the pleasure to meet and talk to many concerned and caring lake residents that I would not have normally met.
I especially want to thank all of those who contacted me with Rapid Response calls for milfoil sightings, violations of ordinances and regulations and general environmental concerns for the benefit of the lake. To date, through the Rapid Response calls and through my own observation, we have identified 56 milfoil locations on the lake. These milfoil sites have been mapped, inventoried and harvested by the divers.
I would also like to take this time to address a few of the concerns and questions that have been recently brought to my attention.
There have been numerous inquiries regarding the use of Weevils in the fight against Milfoil. Here is some information that leads the Foundation to believe that Weevils are not the answer for Upper Saranac Lake. Weevils cost a little over $1/bug and require 2- 3,000 Weevils per acre to be effective. Upper Saranac Lake is over 5,050 acres in total, although the entire lake would not need to be treated, it is not easily determined exactly how many acres would need to be treated to be effective. With over 44 miles of shoreline, total acreage requiring treatment could easily exceed over 1,000 acres. There is also the potential to restock weevils over several years. Weevils have been effective in some places, but not others, and it seems that the scientist cannot yet predict where they will be successful. It is known that Weevils are most useful in dense growth areas. Fortunately through effective hand harvesting; milfoil on Upper Saranac Lake is no longer in these thick beds. Milfoil, although still a persistent problem, is currently located randomly throughout the lake. It is not uncommon to see individual plants growing with no other plants for hundreds of yards around. In these cases weevils would not be effective as they would not migrate such distances in search of their food source and it is not reasonable to transport weevils to individual plants. Furthermore a Cornell study says that there may be no LONG term reduction in milfoil from the weevils even if there is short-term success. There is also the hesitation of introducing something into our waters that, although native to North America, is not currently here in Upper Saranac Lake. Past history of doing such introductions on occasion has had long term negative impacts on native populations of fish or animals.
Some lake residents have expressed concern about areas of milfoil in the lakes tributaries and its potential threat to the Upper Lake. One particular area of worry is Fish Creek, upstream of the campground. Currently the Upper Saranac Lake Foundation harvests Milfoil from the entire Upper Lake and Fish Creek Pond East of Route 30, not any further upstream. Fish Creek is one possible way milfoil enters the Upper Lake but preliminary studies show it has little impact. Interestingly enough there is no Milfoil between Fish Creek Ponds and the Upper Lake. If Fish Creek was the major contributor one would think that this portion of the creek would have Milfoil.
The reality is that Milfoil is currently in the Upper Lake; we are beyond the point of trying to prevent its introduction and can only control its spread. Milfoil growth in Upper Saranac Lake is primarily from fragmentation of existing plants and has limited new introduction. We think it’s important to continue to look at options and adapt as the milfoil evolves. The Foundation still believes that hand harvesting is the most effective, logistically and cost wise, for the control of milfoil. The divers are continually changing the methods they use for harvesting to be more efficient. Next year they are introducing a communication system allowing them to talk to one another underwater as well as surface crew.
One other concern brought to my attention late this summer was the lack of frogs in Spring Pond, a small tributary at the north end of the lake off of Back Bay. I had an opportunity to investigate and although I didn’t notice any frogs myself, I did see plenty of wildlife. It is not surprising that there are no frogs visible at this time of year and obviously all egg masses and tadpoles would be gone by this time as well. I did see Blue Herron, King Fisher, geese and plenty of small fish. Overall amphibians seem to be declining throughout North America and no one is sure exactly why, global warming, natural cycles, pollution? Although there didn’t seem to be any frogs in Spring Pond this year it is unlikely they are gone completely but there is a good chance that they may be decreasing. The fact that there are predators to the frogs in the pond is a good sign. Unfortunately there are no immediate and definitive answers to the change in Spring Pond. Be assured there is a commitment to the continued monitoring of the Pond with special attention next spring during the active frog season. The DEC has been consulted; they stated that unless there is a thorough density study it is not easy to determine population trends. They did commit to me that they would join me next spring when the frogs are active in the mating season in determining what species are present in the pond.
I consider myself lucky to be part of an organization that feels as strongly as I do about preserving the watershed and water quality for the sake of the environmental health and beauty of Upper Saranac Lake. Again, thank you for a good summer. As always I am available by phone or e-mail to take reports of Milfoil sightings or water quality degradation.
Guy Middleton: 518 796-1052 or firstname.lastname@example.org