Saturday, April 16, 2022

Discussion time: Best ways to treat milfoil

milfoilA debate has heated up in Lake George around the best ways to treat the invasive aquatic plant Eurasian watermilfoil.

Despite objections from several stakeholder groups, the Adirondack Park Agency on Thursday approved a controversial plan to apply an herbicide to two infestations of invasive milfoil in two bays on the east side of Lake George.

Click here to read more.

What are your thoughts about this plan? Are you for or against it?

Almanack file photo

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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.

33 Responses

  1. Nathan says:

    Disagree on chemical treatment. it’s not going to eliminate milfoil. Adding poison year after year that really only dilutes, but doesnt doesn’t really break down for decades, often mimics hormones in animals with severe issues over time (read “silent spring” by Carlson).
    Once milfoil is in the lake, poisoning lake endlessly is not a solution, but becomes another issue for the enviroment and food chain to endure. mechanically removing milfoil is yet another issue, special boats, paying crews, massive amounts of fuel, but great compost.
    The true issue? restricting boats from entiring lakes until cleaned to stop spreading invasive species. every invasive species ends up costing millions per lake to control milfoil, zebra mussels, lampreys, snake heads, ect .the treating entire ecosystems with tons of poisons or mechanical means, crews, payrolls~ that means a total failure.
    It is much cheaper to have a boat/trailer cleaning area at each boat launch with a trained person who sprays trailer boat at each launch and retreval. Charge a $5 fee, inclosed building, drive through over a large grate catch tank for over spray/recycle spray building contains spray on windy days.
    spend a few millions a year to protect all lakes or spend millions on each infected lake and the loss of fish, wildlife, tourism, ect.
    Sadly when a lake gets milfoil, or certain other invasives like snake heads, that lake is forever changed, never to recover with economic/recreational loss is massive and basically uncurable. i always thiink of a Cassuyuna lake i used to fish on when i visited my grandfather. when i was a little kid it used to be amazing fish, huge bass, pike and tiger muskies, then milfoil got introduced, within a decade fishing became abismal at best, now almost 50 years later, millions upon millions spent, resulting in still a weed choked lake with miserable fishing. A once glorious lake turned into a money pit of endless weed removal, that will never be restored, by a careless boater and one boat launch…yet state still has not made manditory boat cleaning stations, how many lakes have to die first?

    • Boreas says:

      Agree mostly. I am very pessimistic about our ability to control ANY invasive species once the have reached our shore. Thus, I believe the key is to minimize global trade and transmission. Ideally, billions should be spent on any remaining global trade remediating invasive species introduction to new parts of the globe. Not that this will ever be done or even considered, but that is what it would ultimately take.

      In reality, as long as there are beings and technology that move around the globe, entire ecosystems will change. No way around it. Ecosystems that have fine-tuned themselves over millions of years by using natural, physical boundaries will always be in peril once those boundaries are breached. This doesn’t necessarily mean long-term doom and gloom for these ecosystems, but definite changes and adaptations.

      Just one limited example – the spread of human disease – and its toll – over the last 1000 years. Large outbreaks of disease claimed significant portions of human populations around the globe. Plague, various pox, measles, influenza, etc. all have left their mark on human civilization – just ONE SPECIES! Of course we know multitudes of other breaches to ecosystems effecting other indigenous flora and fauna. And these are just the UNNATURAL breaches. When we consider other events such as volcanism, solar events, extraterrestrial impacts, ocean changes, and more gradual climatic changes, we can see that any ecosystem is inherently destined to change.

      As humans, we may someday have the ability to minimize OUR impacts – but only if we so choose. I suppose only global government or cooperation would be able to accomplish something like this. Doesn’t look like we have evolved as a species enough to accomplish this. It would be interesting to come back in a couple thousand years to observe how much things have changed on the planet.

      In the meantime, clean your boat!

    • Joan Grabe says:

      Nathan, I watch the milfoil eradication divers on Upper Saranac Lake, 3 divers, a watcher in a kayak and a bigger boat with equipment. Quiet, peaceful and incredibly effective. And paid for by donations to the Upper Saranac Lake Foundation. They are not roaring up and down the lake – polluting or disturbing. A mechanical solution, proven effective and easily replicated. Herbicides may work but we have been fooled before.

      • Boreas says:


        “mechanically removing milfoil is yet another issue, special boats, paying crews, massive amounts of fuel, but great compost.”

        I don’t see where Nathan mentions “roaring”, “polluting”, or “disturbing”. And USL is not Lake George. I suspect methods vary depending on the job and the site.

      • Nathan says:

        adding a lot of words i never said, used or implied Joan. i only mentioned all the fuel being used. and that mechanically removing milfoil is a continous activity that is not a cure but an ongoing expense that will have to paid.
        And thanks boreas for clearafying what was said…

  2. JB says:

    Nathan is right. Herbicide treatment is not going to be the solution it is chocked up to be if aquatic invasives are continually re-introduced. ProcellaCOR EC is a highly experimental and unusual formulation at this point. Assuming that it is safe (environmentally and for humans) is madness. When has a first-in-class novel pesticide ever turned out to be safe as claimed? Kudos to the APA members and others who advocated against this. I’m not sure what the rest of the world is thinking.

    • Nathan says:

      exactly JB, DDT was even safe when first introduced, it takes often decades before the true consequences of any man made chemical is known. roundup; 2,4,d; glyphosphates, phosphates of all compounds. think of the miilions of pounds of poison spread on lawns every year such as Scott’s 1,2,3,4….we are way to chemical dependant, for something as stupid as a weed free lawn…I’m proud to have dandilions in my yard, my yard is NOT a toxic wasteland of grass for kids, pets or animals to be poisoned or harmed by walking on it.
      Shouldnt we treat every water as if we were going to drink a glass??? because down stream some one is going to be drinking it!

      • Boreas says:

        Indeed! How many chemicals/petrochemicals have NOT come back to haunt us? I remember the newsreels of kids running and playing behind the DDT fogger trucks on residential streets. I never saw the fogger trucks (lived in the country), but was instead bombarded from aerial fogging. We lived, but were we unaffected?

        Humans are just not forward-thinkers. Remove the immediate threat and let our descendants deal with the consequences. Big Petrochemical does not have the ability to test anything for long-term consequences in their laboratories. And if they did, would we ever get the truth? Think Big Tobacco. As long as politicians are in their pocket, citizens need to remain very skeptical.

        • nathan says:

          Too many chemical companies know exactly how dangerous their products are and lobby and hide facts for the sake of profit and forget the future. Look up ATrazine, completely banned in Europe, the compound great mimics sexual hormones and causes all kinds of animal defects from sexual to extra limb growth. massive scientific proof, yet 1 million pounds is used on corn in the USA every single year. mutagenic at as low as 2 parts per million and now in some prairie states the very ground water is measuring 5-7 parts per million. all the rural farmers are drinking this and pumping on our foods we eat. yet big chem wants their profits!!

  3. Todd Eastman says:

    Until real studies are done regarding the impacts of chemical treatments in specific water bodies, it is premature and irresponsible to apply those chemicals into lakes or rivers.

  4. M.P. Heller says:

    Not sure if any of the people commenting noticed or not. But DEC already approved this application and the final decision lies with the APA. Let that sink in for a minute. The APA is going to have the final say on this. (The LGPC will be the final vote, but as the applicant the outcome of that vote is a forgone conclusion.) Anyone confident that the APA will stall this proposal? A little further reading will show how they already approved its use in Minerva Lake, not just in a bay or two, but the entire lake.

    I think rather than the handwringing and evangelizing, a better approach would be to study past uses of this herbicide and try to come up with concrete ideas that support discontinuing it as an acceptable approach to milfoil management. There are plenty of places studies could be done. Minerva Lake. Bomoseen, etc. Obviously the DEC and APA already consider this herbicide to be a viable tool in their toolbox and that is not likely to change unless it can be proven that it’s measurably harmful in some way. All the soap boxes and preaching in the world won’t make a bit of difference without empirical data to back it up with.

    One more thing. Folks really need to stop with the “form letter” type campaigns during public comment periods. It’s not like the people at DEC or APA or any other agency are going to be swayed on any issue through the receipt of dozens or hundreds of identically worded letters. In fact I believe that it’s logical to conclude that such an approach actually undermines the credibility of the individual voice, which is the entire point of such comment periods. If you can’t be bothered to write your own comments, or at least paraphrase talking points with your own words, you should probably stay out of the discussion. It’s well established that all the form letters in the world won’t do a thing (think Boreas Ponds debate). Personal comments get read, form letters end up in a stack next to the recycling bin.

    • Boreas says:

      Agree totally. All we need are deep pockets to pay for the INDEPENDENT research. Much research takes place in Europe where some countries are often more stringent with stuff in their water supply. The last thing we need in the Park are food chain collapses.

      • Nathan says:

        europe is way way more stringent on testing, a role model of testing new products. you bring up a very essential point, and europe banned things like ethanol is gas, research showed it took as much diesel fuel to make ethanol and was a net energy loss. between transporting seed, planting, harvesting, shipping, fermenting, processing, then shipping ethanol to refineries.
        But there are many chemicals banned in europe that USA uses…

        • Todd Eastman says:

          In Europe the “precautionary principle” leads to the situation where the chemical manufacturer has to prove the chemical safe before it can be put into use.

          In the US, without the precautionary principle being basic guidance, chemicals are frequently introduced without real study; the government must then prove that a chemical causing harm.

          This saves the chemical manufacturers buttloads of money as citizens and the environment get to be used as guinea pigs rather than the manufacturers having to perform the substantive research…

          • Boreas says:

            Then, after a few years of profits, Big Chem spends 20 years defending a bad product against a barrage of cancer/environmental lawsuits.

            Because of these issues, should governments even allow chemicals to be used at all?? The track record is extremely poor. Has any man-made chemical ever been GOOD for the environment in the long term? It may increase food production, but at what cost? And ultimately, is adding more food to the rapidly burgeoning world population a good thing?

  5. Pat Boomhower says:

    Lake George Park Commission and APA have approved the use of ProcellaCor
    along the eastern shore. The Town of Hague along with Lake George Association & Adirondack Water institute of Paul Smith’s College all have said they do not support this action. Since Hague’s town line extends to the water line of the eastern shore does their objection override LGPC & APA’s approval? Also I’ve read no input from the Darrin Fresh Water Institute on the issue.

  6. Stuart Angert says:

    Why are we not considering sterile triploid carp. Their introduction in many other waterways has been most successful in eliminating or stemming the increase of milfoil

  7. Charlie Stehlin says:

    If you go back to the old literature in this country, early 1800’s and prior, and just beyond, the old agricultural magazines, ie..’The Genesee Farmer’ and other… you’ll see between their covers that they had all sorts of remedies for this or that pest, and which they all swore by. Remedies which you never hear about nowadays and which would seem like quackery to us moderns who are conditioned into the industrial, profit-motive pesticide way of doing business. And this was when they were still depending on wood fires to keep their houses warm at night, or to read those old magazines by their chimney light. Just amazing how far we have regressed!

  8. Martin says:

    See the EPA registration information for this herbicide:

    This is madness to put this in a potable water source.

  9. Zephyr says:

    When in doubt, don’t dump chemicals into the environment. I don’t care what the current studies say. Look at all the chemicals once dumped in the past perfectly legally that we now hugely regret. In New York PCBs dumped in the Hudson River are exhibit #1, and on the supposedly beneficial side DDT is exhibit #2. I vividly remember the trucks running down our street and the clouds of spray in the air. Personally, I’d rather have the milfoil than the chemicals, and there are alternative ways of dealing with it.

  10. Jason P Carl says:

    The safest and most effective method of eliminating invasive aquatic plants is to stock “Sterile Grass Carp.” Grass Carp are technically not Carp. They’re actual name is White Amur. They feed heavily on aquatic plants. Since they’re sterile and can’t reproduce, they’ll eventually die off after eliminating a lot to all of the Eurasian Milfoil with no worries of the Grass Carp becoming established in the waterbody since they can’t reproduce. Many states use this method with great success.

    • Boreas says:


      This indeed sounds promising – assuming the fish are a good match for our cold waters. My concern here is that what do they eat when the E. milfoil is gone – and what do they eat in addition to the target species?? Do they overgraze native plants until they die? How would this effect the other native vertebrate and invertebrate herbivore species in the food chain?

      • Nathan says:

        some species have been know to change sex if there is no reproduction. Some “quote sterile or all one sex” introductions have been shown after a few years to change sex and start reproducing. there has been some research finding that “sterile carp” inroduced in lake have indeed reproduced.
        the other issue is that the carp dont eat just milfoil, but can destroy all plants in a lake, outcompeting native fish and also fry or baby fish loose plants that they hide in from predators. so carp do as much damage as help…we need digilent boat cleaning at every launch and treatment to stop spread, and sadly we cant cure a infected lake, just try to cope.

  11. Pat Boomhower says:

    Grass carp can reproduce. According to USGS they appeared in Lake Erie in 1975 after escaping the Mississippi. They have been spawning in rivers flowing into Lake Erie and efforts to eradicate them continue to this day along with populations in the Hudson since the ’80s. Luckily they have not been found in Champlain…yet. I’m no scientist but Lake George does flow north to the LaChute. Could Lake George be like a slow moving river? Do we want to take that chance?

    • Boreas says:


      If they are indeed “sterile” they won’t reproduce. But, as you say, that won’t necessarily keep them home on the farm! Some fish can live a long time. If they migrate into other water bodies, what native plants will they eat? And can they carry E. milfoil to those waters?

      • Pat Boomhower says:

        Boreas, I have to disagree about sterility. They are sterile in pond (closed) environments. They do reproduce in rivers. Do we still want to take that chance? I think manual harvesting is the only truly safe way to try to control the existing milfoil and continue to push for continued intensive boat inspections.

  12. Boreas says:

    Instead of killing or removing E. milfoil outright, can it be genetically engineered or minimally-invasive strains bred to minimize reproduction/spread – perhaps “smothering” beds of non-engineered, aggressive E. milfoil?? In other words, perhaps there is more of a hope in “taming” it over time rather than eradicating it. I don’t see how we would ever eradicate it entirely.

  13. Nathan says:

    With lake after lake falling victim to introduced weeds and animals, when will manditory dipping stations finally be introduced????? we spend millions per lake per year to stop the introduced issues…Spend some of those millions to dip boats/trailers before and after every launch. Stop the spreading to more lakes and destruction. charge a nominal fee to dip and protect the Adirondacks and all of NYS. APA has a role and protecting from invasive species should be #1 on list.
    Dipping/spraying at every launch would be so effective and yet APA does nothing but try to treat desease after it’s too late and with poison dumping into lakes with barely known compounds.
    Shame on APA yet again, a failure!!! its looking like towns in the Adirondacks need to start class action lawsuit against APA and demand a reformate and create a effective APA!!!

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