Divers are continuing the removal of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in the Upper Saranac Lake (USL) watershed.

Since 2004, when 18 tons of Eurasian watermilfoil was removed, there has been a steady reduction in the amount of invasive species found. Last year marked the lowest amount of milfoil found with under 300 pounds removed from Upper Saranac Lake and Lower Fish Creek Pond. The Upper Saranac Foundation (USF) is confident this trend will continue in 2020.

Invasive Solutions Dive Company is contracted to hand-harvest invasive milfoil by USF. This year, the dive crew will harvest USL, Fish Creek Ponds, and for the first time, Follensby Clear Pond. The USF was awarded a $15,000 grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program to expand efforts to control and prevent the spread of AIS in upstream tributaries. Invasive management of upstream tributaries such as Follensby Clear Pond prevents the export of AIS downstream toward USL, protecting shore owner investments from infestation.

The 2020 hand-harvesting operation, which began in early June, will continue into October.

The Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) conducts independent monitoring to determine the efficiency of USF’s invasive management strategy. Their most recent report, “Upper Saranac Lake State of the Lake,” reads as follows:

“The 14 years of management efforts have been incredibly successful at reducing the lake wide abundance of Eurasian water milfoil. Overall, stem density (stems/acre) has remained low through the entire maintenance period and has been particularly low during the last five years. The average August stem density across all locations in 2017 was 15 stems/ acre, which is approximately 44 times lower than the densities encountered in 2004.”

The report continues: “Milfoil density in Upper Saranac is substantially lower than other lakes in the Adirondacks with established milfoil populations. For example, in Chateaugay Lake, the average August milfoil density across similar underwater transects has ranged from 5,200 to 11,000 stems/acre over the last 7 years.” Furthermore: “At this time we consider Eurasian watermilfoil to be a rare plant in Upper Saranac Lake as it occurred on only 1% of the 588 study segments during August, the month of greatest aquatic plant cover; we were 10 times more likely to encounter milfoil on the study segments in 2005.”

USF’s efforts and techniques are considered the role model for AIS management throughout North America. Efforts within the campground began in 2016. In the first three years of harvesting invasive species, a total of 20 tons of milfoil has been removed.

Follow the Foundation’s invasive harvesting efforts on our web page by clicking here. You can see where the divers have been and how much milfoil they have removed.