The Lake George Park Commission (LGPC) applied for and was granted on April 14 a permit from the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to put the herbicide ProcellaCOR into Lake George at two pilot sites: Blair’s Bay in Glen Burnie and Sheep Meadow Bay in Hulett’s Landing. Although both sites are located on the east side of the lake, they are part of the Town of Hague, whose boundaries extend to the eastern shoreline.
The LGPC feels that this herbicide could be an effective way to combat Eurasian milfoil, an invasive species that has been in Lake George for decades. Working with partners, including the Lake George Association (LGA), the LGPC has, for several years, used hand-harvesting to try to control the plant. It notes that nearly 68 tons of milfoil were removed from the lake using this method in 2021. Now the LGPC wants to test ProcellaCOR as an additional tool to manage this weed, noting that it’s far more cost-effective than hand-harvesting. The LGPC plans to apply the herbicide at the two sites as a pilot in June of this year.
The LGA and Chris Navitsky, Lake George Waterkeeper, are strongly opposed to using this chemical, stating that “there simply is not enough science about the potential adverse impacts to water quality, human health, and aquatic plant and animal life to proceed at this time, particularly given the unique and complex character of the Lake.” They had asked the APA to deny the current application until more peer-reviewed scientific data that is specific to Lake George can be collected. The product information label on the manufacturer’s website describes ProcellaCOR as “a herbicide for management of freshwater aquatic vegetation in slow-moving/quiescent waters with little or no continuous outflow.” This is not the profile of Lake George. Some of the other concerns include how long the toxic chemical will remain in the lake, the fact that ProcellaCOR eventually breaks down into chemicals that are as toxic as the parent and the fear that decomposing milfoil could even increase the risk of harmful algal blooms.
At its April 12 meeting, the Hague Town Board considered the arguments before unanimously adopting a resolution stating its opposition to the application of ProcellaCOR in Lake George at this time. The public is also concerned. Of the 325 public comment letters received by the APA, 300 expressed opposition to the use of the toxic chemical in Lake George – more than 90 percent. Some reminded the APA that thousands of people use Lake George for drinking water, and they feared the herbicide’s potential adverse effects. Many said they wanted additional scientific study about the effects this herbicide could have on plant and animal life in the lake. Some also pointed out that, for many years, DDT was considered safe – until scientific studies proved that it wasn’t.
At its regular meeting on April 14, the APA Board listened to a staff presentation recommending approval of the LGPC’s application before narrowly approving it by a vote of 6-4. One Board member noted that one of her reasons for voting against approval was the fact that Hague’s Town Board was unanimously opposed to granting approval.
The LGPC held an informational session on April 15 for the public. Many participants wanted to know why it is so urgent to put this relatively new herbicide into the lake now rather than waiting for more research on how ProcellaCOR will specifically affect Lake George. Since the LGPC’s original decision to seek the APA permit, public opposition has become very clear, as evidenced by the public comments and the Hague Town Board’s resolution. The LGPC still has the opportunity to take these factors into account before making a final decision on whether to move forward at its April 26 regular meeting.
Ginger Henry Kuenzel is a former town of Hague board member.
Photo of Blair’s Bay courtesy of https://glenburnie.org/