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Milfoil Management On Lake St. Catherine Discussed In The Rutland Herald

On August 5th, you may have noticed an article in the Rutland Herald entitled, "Weed wars in Lake St. Catherine", which mistakenly attributed the quotes and information to the Lake St. Catherine Association. However, the reporter was interviewing a representative of the Lake St. Catherine Conservation Fund, a separate group which focuses on the Little Lake.

The LSCA and the LSCCF have very different approaches to manage milfoil on Lake St. Catherine.

As far back as 1979 when the Association used harvesters almost exclusively to control milfoil, and grew that program for about 2 decades, we knew it was a band aid. The Association continued to seek other methods that might work longer term or even that ‘magic bullet’ to rid the lake of this invasive weed.

As the problem persisted, there was a lengthy discussion, consultation and permitting process to look at other options. We looked at things like weevils, carp, bottom barriers, hydro-raking, lowering the lake level and more. At the time, some of the methods were in practice around the lake by individual homeowners with the Association’s assistance in retaining permits.

The decision was made in 2002 to use the herbicide SONAR in a full lake wide treatment (administered in 2004). By the next spring, with the exception of 2 spots, there was virtually no milfoil to be found in the whole lake. Herbicide has been successful, and could again be successful as a treatment for milfoil in the Little Lake.

Mechanical harvesting was not an option included in the required 5-year maintenance plan. In the Little Lake we tried using suction harvesting without much success because of the depth of the silt. It was impossible for the divers to work in the conditions. Hydro-raking was also used extensively, but only around homeowner docks.

Since then, the LSCA has followed up each season with spot treatments of the herbicide Renovate. However, in the area of the Little Lake, it created a very vocal few that made unsubstantiated claims that resulted in the LSCA withdrawing action. Unfortunately, there were no other available methods of controlling the milfoil that were deemed feasible economically or that would produce acceptable results. This allowed the LSCCF to do the experimental aeration for the silt issues they experience.

The LSCA Vice President, Mary Jo Teetor reached out to the author of the article, Gordon Dritschilo to discuss it. That conversation resulted in a follow up article, "Lake milfoil campaign claiming successes", which provides some of the thoughts of the LSCA on the issue of milfoil management on Lake St. Catherine.

We encourage you to read both articles.

Mary Jo has some additional information she'd like to share on this topic:

“I appreciate the newspaper follow up to give us the opportunity to expand on the discussion of lake issues and how we are approaching them. As we know the devil in the details don’t always come out in short newspaper articles. The information can be overwhelming to condense.

For those who were here on the lake when milfoil was at its peak, you might remember the remarkable difference we experienced after the SONAR treatment. Although it seemed like it may be that ‘magic bullet’ we were looking for, we knew it was not a done deal and maybe never would be. We need to be diligent in maintaining the conditions the best we can to keep the milfoil at bay and to not let it return to the worst of times. This is why we always are looking at a multipronged approach. Today for the LSCA, that includes: spot treatment on the largest returning beds of milfoil with Renovate and the increased usage of suction harvesting.

We are concerned that restarting the mechanical harvesting method could bring us back to a time none of us want to experience again. We hope the containment to the Little Lake works. It is not a matter of being more thorough in chasing down every fragment; it is the nature of the mechanical beast.

The jury is out on the removal of sedimentation with the aeration. Until there are independent evaluations that are measured and conclusive, we cannot support the method as a way of reducing the milfoil problem in the lake that we are tasked at managing. The Renovate herbicide did have success in keeping the navigational paths open in the Little Lake until the treatments were restricted by the LSCCF’s persistent pressure and unsubstantiated claims.

Emotions do get heated, but with the help of the Implementation team looking at the causes of the lake issues, we are looking for that common ground. We all want to prevent the issues we have been battling from getting worse while making the lake cleaner and more hospitable than ever for everyone.

The LSCA works very closely with the Department of Environmental Conservation and also belongs to FOVLAP (Federation of Vermont Lakes and Ponds) where we can share information about what is happening state wide and consult on new technologies, methods and best practices.

Finally, I would like to encourage all homeowners to pay attention to the rules and methods of best practices living in the lake district by: preventing erosion and runoff from their individual properties, maintenance of septic systems, the use of barriers and creating buffers on the lake front by planting native species to attract the wildlife we want. It is everyone’s responsibility to be good stewards. We’ll soon have lots of this information available to share on our website about these best practices.

Within the next few weeks, two free workshops are coming up. Click on their links for more infomation:

• Rain Gardens (August 22nd)

• Protecting Property and Lake - Be Storm Ready With Lake Friendly Practices (August 31st)

Thank you."

We welcome your comments: info@lakestcatherine.org.

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