A Response To The LSCCF's Printed And Online Materials

Good afternoon Lake St. Catherine.

We'd like to take a moment to clear up some confusion created by a brochure you may have seen recently at local businesses in Wells and Poultney, entitled "Restoring Lake St. Catherine". This brochure was created by the Lake St. Catherine Conservation Fund (LSCCF).

The LSCCF was created in 2010 by property owners on the Little Lake. This organization is not associated with us, the Lake St. Catherine Association (LSCA), which was founded in 1953. The LSCA and the LSCCF are two separate organizations with very different approaches to dealing with lake issues.

First, their brochure contains a saying that many will remember was used for a number of years by the LSCA, "For the sake of the lake." We hope this was unintentional.

In the first paragraph of the brochure, while discussing the Little Lake, they write "Some parts are now un-navigable where this shallow water is also clogged with Eurasian watermilfoil and other nuisance plants." (The "nuisance plants" mentioned include native species to LSC, like Large Leaf Pondweed and Robbins' Pondweed.)

In 2011, the LSCCF asked the LSCA to not treat the Little Lake with herbicide as we had since the initial Sonar treatment in 2004. They had applied for and received a permit to run an experiment using aerators. Each year since 2004, the LSCA has been successfully managing new milfoil growth in the Lake with spot treatments of herbicide - adding in suction harvesting in 2007.

You can read more about the history of the LSCA's battle with milfoil in this recent blog post: "Milfoil Management On Lake St. Catherine Discussed In The Rutland Herald".

Since the LSCA stopped treating the Little Lake in 2011, the milfoil growth has exploded. Aeration has not been shown to have an effect on milfoil. We encourage you to visit the aeration spots on the Little Lake to see for yourself.

Finally on the topic of milfoil, we must also take a moment to call your attention to some inflammatory language on the LSCCF's website. One particular page mentions herbicides as  "harmful", "unhealthy" or "toxic" 7 times.

The herbicide the LSCA uses each season is called Renovate OTF (on target flakes). The active ingredient is Triclopyr, which is proven safe for humans and wildlife and listed as practically non-toxic by the EPA. Use of this herbicide in LSC has been approved by the State of Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources and its use is strictly regulated by the Vermont DEC. Describing it as harmful, unhealthy or toxic is scaremongering.

On the same page, there are these two paragraphs referring to aeration:

"Asked about the success of this type of remediation, some have observed, 'Eurasian watermilfoil was in several lakes and ponds that we put the system in, and it is not present in any treated lakes or ponds now.'

Eurasian watermilfoil can be controlled using environmental remediation without unhealthy herbicide. With toxic herbicides, the milfoil comes back, usually worse than before and must be poisoned again. With environmental remediation, Eurasian watermilfoil never comes back. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to control milfoil on Lake St. Catherine with weed harvesters and toxic herbicide, and its growth is now worse than ever."

There are no references or studies cited to show that "Eurasian watermilfoil can be controlled using environmental remediation" or "With environmental remediation, Eurasian watermilfoil never comes back"? Also, who are the "some" who have "observed"?

Since 2004, The LSCA has been controlling milfoil using a combination of spot herbicide treatment and suction harvesting - and year over year, we've been reducing the amount of herbicide used as our suction harvesting continues to increase and improve.

Think about the last line in that paragraph: "Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to control milfoil on Lake St. Catherine with weed harvesters and toxic herbicide, and its growth is now worse than ever." Knowing the history of milfoil in Lake St. Catherine, how could anyone describe the milfoil in areas that the LSCA is managing as "worse than ever"? This comment is simply untrue. Each year, in the spring and the fall, LSC is surveyed by the LSCA and our contractor SOLitude Lake Management to formulate a treatment plan. Milfoil reports are generated during these surveys and the data clearly shows that the milfoil is not "worse than ever".

This brings us back to similar unsubstantiated claims in the brochure. Some statements  begin with "We believe..." or "We concluded..." or claim that the aeration is "working great!". Believing things or drawing conclusions based on those beliefs is certainly not scientific, and they provide no documented evidence that these statements or claims are true. Very important decisions about lake management should not be made based on beliefs.

These are all important things to keep in mind as you read their material. Why do they not provide documented evidence for their claims or beliefs? Why do they knowingly spread false information? Why do they try to scare you with untrue statements?

Now, the LSCCF has purchased a harvesting machine. After running a harvesting program for over 20 years, the LSCA realized that harvesting is like mowing your lawn. After the first cut, you need to keep cutting the weeds as they will grow right back. During the process of cutting and harvesting the milfoil, fragments are created that aren’t captured and removed from the lake. A tiny milfoil fragment can start a new plant . Harvesters are also difficult and expensive to operate and maintain. The LSCA stopped using mechanical harvesters in the early 2000s.

The LSCA would like to once again be involved in the treatment of the Little Lake, including helping to address its unique issues. But, as you've read, we've been shut out. From the LSCA's bylaws, our purpose is to "to utilize (our) income and assets for the preservation, protection and maintenance of Lake St. Catherine." We are stewards of the entire lake - from Lily Pond down to the Little Lake.

Although milfoil treatment is a major focus for the LSCA each season, we do so much more for the Lake. We also promote lake safety with free boating safety courses and by maintaining the cones and buoys. We manage the Greeter program at the boat launch to check boats for invasive species. We continually test the water for E coli, and water clarity. We represent you to state and local governments to protect your rights and the lake in general. We sponsor free workshops on topics like septic systems and shoreline best practices. We also apply for permits to conduct special projects like restoring the Lily Pond channel (which began last week, more on that here).

As someone that cares about the Lake, you have the option to support - or not support - either Association. All we can ask is that you do so based on the facts. We hope to earn your support.

Thanks for reading, and we welcome your comments:

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