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