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