Saturday, November 25, 2023

What comes next for ProcellaCOR?


Paradox Lake as seen from Severance Mountain.

Paradox Lake approved for herbicide in battle against invasives

As the Adirondack Park Agency board last week considered allowing the Paradox Lake Association to use a chemical herbicide to fight invasive milfoil, it started to open the door to a broader discussion.

As lake communities around the park see ProcellaCOR EC as a major improvement over other management tools, what is the best way to monitor long term impacts? And how to assist communities with more strategic lake planning?

The relatively new herbicide has been used to effectively kill Eurasian watermilfoil on scores of lakes around the Northeast, including on Minerva Lake in 2020 and Lake Luzerne this summer. APA staff reported a notable increase in permit applications with DEC and suggested a surge in requests could be headed the APA’s way. While trying not to stray too far from the permit on the table, board members raised questions about the broader landscape.

Board chair John Ernst asked whether there were any longer term scientific studies in the works. Board member Zoe Smith noted that not all lake associations and communities have the resources necessary to evaluate the pros and cons of using the herbicide. Some lakes are able to invest in lake management plans that outline a long term approach to managing invasive milfoil – those plans assure a permitting agency that a decision to employ the herbicide has been thought through.

“There is not enough support for our lake associations to make these decisions. They are all sort of on their own out there,” Smith said. “We are all dealing with the same issue, so why can’t we come together to think through a solution?”

Will the APA continue to consider the herbicide requests one by one and with no broader strategy? Will there be a comprehensive approach to studying the herbicide’s impacts and effectiveness across Adirondacks? Will lakes without the benefit of a well-resourced lake association be left on the sidelines?

We will continue to follow the issue.


Eurasian watermilfoil is one of the most invasive plants in the Adirondack Park. Explorer file photo.

Spill near Upper Saranac Lake

In October, almost 2,500 gallons of home heating oil were spilled at a home on Prospect House Lane near the northern shore of Upper Saranac Lake.

Spill experts with the state Department of Environmental Conservation responded to the spill and determined an “equipment failure” was responsible. A contractor has been working to recover oils from the spill. In a statement last week, a DEC spokesperson said, “No risks or impacts outside of the building envelope have been identified to date.”

The statement said the response will continue to determine the extent of contamination and ensure “corrective actions are protective of human health and the environment.”


If you are looking for an escape from family discourse this weekend, you can check out the latest oil spills across the state at the DEC’s spill incidents database: DEC Spills Database. The database is updated daily and includes records of chemical and petroleum spill incidents and dates to 1978.

The Hudson River in Ossining

Adirondack water ends up down here. The Hudson River in Ossining. Photo by Zachary Matson


Photo at top: Paradox Lake as seen from Severance Mountain. Photo by Zachary Matson.

This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.


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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.


17 Responses

  1. Marge Villanova says:

    I saw my first moose at Paradox Lake in 1954 when I was 15 years old! He/she was incredibly big and very beautiful!

  2. Sally says:

    It’s not the APA’s job to come up with a broad strategy for addressing procella cor use holistically Zach. The agency receives applications and they review them one by one, each one on their merits, whether it’s a minor subdivision or storage facility or invasive species hand harvesting application. They probably receive several dozen minor subdivision applications each year. Should they develop a broad strategy to deal with those? No. Because they are a regulatory agency.

    Here’s an idea. We have this great college called Paul Smiths and they have a great watershed institute whose main job is to conduct research and develop broad recommendations based on that research. Maybe they should be the ones doing the research they constantly call for being necessary.

    Researchers research. Regulators regulate. Stop conflating the two.

    • Adk_Resident says:

      Interesting point, Sally. I’m assuming Paul Smiths would be looking for public money to do that kind of research. This all gets murky quickly though when the Executive Director of Paul Smith’s Watershed Institute (the potential researcher), aslo sits on the board of the regulatory agency.

  3. Fisherking says:

    The Post Star reported the presence of milfoil in Lake George about 37 years ago. And despite all of the ‘enlightened’ efforts or restraint, it remains.

  4. Stuart Alan says:

    To prevent the public from having real time access to laboratory herbicide monitoring results, the NY DEC refuses to allow more than 2 carefully vetted persons on each lake to receive email updates of the post herbicide application lab analyses. These 2 people must be recommended by their town government. All other persons must file a series of FOIL requests for information, and wait 30 days for each information request. This is an obvious abuse of the NY FOIL law, clearly intended to delay and limit the immediate dissemination of lab analysis results to lake residents, researchers, scientists, and other interested parties. Can you get yourself on the DEC email distribution list for any NYS lake? Try it and see.

  5. Pat Boomhower says:

    Is New York the only state where ProcellaCor has been used? Where & when was it first used in the US? Is info about its use available outside of NY? These are key questions that I’ve seen very little discourse on the subject of effects outside NY.

    • Jones says:

      Watch the presentation video from the APA board meeting 2 weeks ago, it has a lot of this information.

    • Paul says:

      Lots of places for a number of years. It’s not new. But since nobody trusts anyone anymore they have to ‘study’ it again. What a waste.

      • Bill Keller says:

        Sort of like the “Road salt Reduction Project”, all sorts of information on how to reduce the use of road salt, the same information that the committee published. Reinventing the wheel with tax dollars.

        • Rob says:

          Yup and with 30 inches of snow in the forecast for tug hill and parts of the Adirondacks they will be out putting salt down with every pass a plow makes.

  6. Wayno17 says:

    Our lake has Eurasian Mil Foil and it is a hideous invasive species. The plants are dense and thick and it spreads very easily. Hand harvesting has been a noble endeavor but it has barely put a dent in the problem. I am glad this stuff exists and has had acceptable results so far. It pains me to see a toxic chemical intentionally applied to an ADK lake but I think this needs to be done. Since the 1950s, over 150 sites in the Adirondacks have been treated with rotenone to restore wild brook trout populations by killing all the fish in a lake and reintroducing brook trout. This has been done to restore the native species to lakes full of invasives and, to my knowledge has been a success. This sounds like a similarly necessary intervention.

  7. Boreas says:

    WOW! 2500 gallons of spilled home fuel oil? Most single home tanks are only about 275 gallons. Were there spill safeguards/precautions in place? Did this happen during filling?

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