The 2020 Upper Saranac Lake Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Management Report is now available to the public.
Through the Upper Saranac Foundation’s watershed supporters and our partnership with Invasive Solutions Dive Company, the USF is pleased to demonstrate another successful season of management on Upper Saranac Lake and Lower Fish Creek Pond. Overall AIS numbers continue to drop. The USF has been successfully managing AIS since 2004. Through the efforts of hand-harvesting by divers, the annual poundage removed on Upper Saranac Lake has been reduced from 18 tons in 2004 to just over 100 pounds in 2020. Milfoil on Upper Saranac Lake is now considered a rare aquatic plant.
The Upper Saranac Lake Invasive Species Management Project is part of a larger watershed protection program, developed by the USF, that uses a combination of AIS prevention, monitoring, management, control activities, and education to inhibit AIS spread.
The report can be summarized in the following key points:
- The 2020 harvest season consisted of 1,500 diver hours conducted over a 14-week timeframe, beginning June 8 and ending Oct. 15.
- Total pounds of invasive plants found and removed in 2020 dropped to an all-time low of 109 pounds. Initial harvesting totals exceeded 18 tons in 2004. From 2019 to 2020 there was 63% total reduction in pounds harvested.
- Within the 1,200 littoral acres of the 44-mile shoreline (where plants can grow – 15’ or less water depth) there are 39 designated lake zones. Six of these zones are considered invasive free (no invasive plants found within the last three years). In 2020 there were ten zones where invasive plants were not found.
- In 2020, of the 39 designated lake zones, Eurasian watermilfoil plant counts decreases in 26 zones, increased in 5 zones, and 2 zones had no change from 2019.
- For the first time Variable-leaf milfoil was found in one of the zones in the southern basin of the lake, indicating a slow outward spread from its origin, Fish Creek Campground. Of the nine zones which have previously harbored Variable-leaf milfoil, seven sites saw a decrease in plant count, three sites saw an increase in plant count, and two showed no change.
- Comparing the 2019 season’s harvest to 2020, there was a 58% reduction in the number of Eurasian Watermilfoil plants harvested and a 69% reduction in the number of Variable-leaf Milfoil plants harvested.
- Lower Fish Creek Pond continues to be the highest volume area for invasive growth followed by Little Square. Saranac Inn to the Marlboro Club, Tommy’s Rock and Dry Island, Gull Bay between Lilly Bay and South Gull Bay, Chapel Island, and Bull Point to Sekon are all considered invasive free.