Over a two-year period, 13,050 pounds of the invasive milfoil plant has been removed from Follensby Clear Pond. Following successful aquatic invasive species (AIS) management on Upper Saranac Lake (USL), the Upper Saranac Foundation (USF) has expanded efforts to control AIS in contributing tributaries.
“With funding from the Lake Champlain Basin (LCBP) Grants program, for each of the last two years, we are now getting control of Eurasian Watermilfoil in the nearly 500-acre Follensby Clear Pond,” said USF Lake Manager Guy Middleton.
In 2017, an aquatic plant survey of Follensby Clear Pond conducted by the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program indicated that the invasive Eurasian Watermilfoil was found in an 18-acre area in the southern end of the pond. This finding corresponded to an increase of milfoil found by the USF, downstream from the pond at the outlet of Spider Creek — a tributary of USL. In 2019, a culvert adjacent to the AIS infestation was replaced and enlarged by the state Department of Transportation. The culvert, located at the outlet of the pond, created an even greater threat of AIS regional spread through fragmentation.
“This prompted USF to apply for a grant to address the growing concern impacting USL,” Middleton noted.
USF received the first of two $15,000 grants from the LCBP and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission to subsidize the expansion of successful efforts to control and prevent the spread of invasives in the Saranac Lake watershed
Last summer, USF completed its objective by clearing the targeted 18 acres of AIS, yielding 6,600 lbs. of milfoil. The grant also provided an opportunity to map the bottom of the pond and complete an extensive aquatic plant survey. An additional 9 acres of dense milfoil, along with sporadic, pond-wide growth, not identified in the 2017 survey, was discovered.
The USF proposed to the LCBP to expand management to include the entire Follensby Clear Pond. A second grant was awarded in 2021 with the objective of USF restoring the entire pond. This past summer an additional 6,450 lbs. of milfoil were removed.
With a long-term objective to eradicate AIS in Follensby Clear Pond, each successive year of management will yield less AIS plant growth and a year-to-year decline in total area and amount of plant material removed. It is anticipated it will take one more year of intensive harvesting before a general long-term AIS management plan, similar to efforts currently being used on USL, can be implemented.
The Follensby Clear Pond project is consistent with USF’s goals of providing clear waterways and ensuring the sustainability of our natural public resources for future generations. This project will aid in reducing AIS spread, protecting downstream waters from infestation, and preventing the spread of populations of AIS to non-infested regional waters.
USF has been successfully managing AIS on USL since 2004. Through the efforts of hand-harvesting by divers, the annual poundage removed on USL has been reduced from 18 tons in 2004 to under 200 pounds in 2020. Further expansion of AIS within the watershed will assist in decreasing AIS impacts on USL.