Milfoil in Lake Placid down but not gone

LAKE PLACID – There’s less milfoil in Lake Placid than before, but it’s still there, so efforts to fight it need to continue.

That was the message from Lake Placid Shore Owners Association President Mark Wilson when he spoke to the village board at its meeting Monday night.

Wilson said divers from Aquative Invasive Management spent about 20 hours in the lake earlier this month and cleaned out about a half a bag of milfoil from Paradox Bay.

The bags are big, carrying about 12.5 pounds, but that’s a much smaller haul than when the company started working on Lake Placid four years ago, Wilson said. He said workers then carried away two trucks full of milfoil.

Wilson said the efforts need to be kept up to prevent the invasive plant from spreading.

“Eventually they’ll give up, we hope,” Wilson said.

Trustee Art Devlin asked if any of the plants are giving up yet. Wilson said the plants are all still being found in the same spots in Paradox Bay, but there are far fewer of them.

A new colony of milfoil was found in 2011 in Brewster Bay, around the corner from Paradox Bay, but AIM didn’t find any there this time, Wilson said.

This year when AIM was collecting milfoil, divers also took soil samples and tested for other invasives like Asian clams, which the company has been battling in Lake George, but that testing turned up negative, Wilson said.

Wilson said the dives will continue in the future. He said AIM originally thought that diving twice a year would be necessary, but that’s not the case anymore.

Each dive costs a couple thousand dollars, paid for by the village.

That’s one of a few commitments the village made when it was first approached about the milfoil problem four years ago, Wilson said. Village board members also agreed to post a camera at the village boat launch to assess the amount of traffic there and to keep high-volume times monitored with lake stewards. Wilson said to his knowledge, the camera hadn’t been posted yet, and while the last three years there were stewards there, this year he hasn’t seen any at the village site.

Wilson cited a two-year-old report from the Paul Smith’s College’s Adirondack Watershed Steward program, which supplied stewards to the village launch in 2011 and ’12. It found that on weekends the village launch saw about 200 arriving boats a day, and about 2 percent of those boats were carrying invasive plants.

He said he hopes that makes board members realize that invasives are a threat, and the village has an obligation to protect the area’s water supply and the clarity of the water. He said everyone involved needs to continuously redouble their efforts.

Village Mayor Craig Randall said he wasn’t aware the Watershed Steward program isn’t still sponsoring stewards at the village boat launch. Wilson said he believes the program lost some funding this year and wasn’t able to support as many stewards as in the past. He knew for sure that stewards the program used to support on Saranac Lake’s Lake Flower weren’t there this summer. Wilson lives mostly in Saranac Lake.

Randall said Lake Flower has significant milfoil, and he said he’s guessing boats that use Lake Placid probably also use Lake Flower. Wilson said he’s heard from businesses on Lake Placid that they often send customers to both places.

The village of Saranac Lake has yet to pass any law banning invasive species being transported to its waters, Wilson said.

“They don’t seem to be terribly well focused on the issue,” he said.

Randall noted that may change if a current push to relocate the Saranac Lake beach to Lake Flower is successful.

Wilson said the Shore Owners Association shares the costs of stewards at Lake Placid’s state-owned boat launch with the town of North Elba, and that could happen with the village launch as well. Randall said it’s possible the village could help pay for stewards there.

Randall said a camera was posted at Lake Placid’s village boat launch at one point, but there were technical problems with transmitting the data. He said he’s not sure of the status of that equipment, other than it’s now housed at the firehouse.

Randall noted that recent years have seen a more substantial response to the invasive problem from the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Invasive species have been making the news a lot, and that’s helped people recognize them as a problem, he said.

“There’s no quick cure to any of this stuff,” Randall said. “I think four years has brought a lot of information, a lot of awareness.”

Wilson noted that this is his last meeting as head of the Shore Owners Association. He said it’s not official yet, but Jamie Rhoades of Dallas and Lake Placid is the candidate for the position.