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Invasive Eurasian watermilfoil in Saratoga Lake. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/librarylvr/4952313765/">Janice Painter</a>, CC <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en">some rights reserved</a>
Invasive Eurasian watermilfoil in Saratoga Lake. Photo: Janice Painter, CC some rights reserved

Park regulators approve herbcide for Loon Lake milfoil battle

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The state Adirondack Park Agency voted unanimously Friday to approve the controversial use of a chemical herbicide to kill invasive plants in a lake in Warren County.

The Town of Chester plans to disperse 1,500 gallons of Renovate OTF in the southeastern corner of Loon Lake this spring.

It's an herbicide used to kill Eurasian watermilfoil, which has clogged waterways across the Park and has been a nuisance to boaters and swimmers.

This would be only the second time Renovate has been used in the Adirondack Park.

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Reported by

Chris Knight
Adirondack Correspondent

The town of Chester and the Loon Lake Park District Association are planning a one-time application of the herbicide in a 15-acre bay near the lake's boat launch. They hope it will help reduce the long-term costs of removing milfoil throughout the lake. Those costs have topped $260,000 over the past 10 years, most of that spent on trying to harvest the plants by hand or smother them with mats.

Edward Griesmer is the lake association's president. He says the herbicide will allow the group to gain more control over the rest of the lake. "The use of Renovate, we believe, will allow us to deal with it in a more effective way."

Last year, milfoil was found at 43 sites around Loon Lake.

Before the town’s request to use the chemical came to the agency board last week, the Adirondack Council, an environmental group, called for a public hearing. It raised concerns about the die-off of large numbers of snails when Renovate was used for the first time in the Park in Lake Luzerne in 2011.

APA staff said during a presentation Thursday that there was no "conclusive" explanation for what caused the snails in Lake Luzerne to die all at once. They also said the treatment in Loon Lake is taking place in the early spring before most aquatic plants begin to grow.

APA board members raised no objections to the project, but Commissioner Richard Booth said the continued use of the herbicide should be further scrutinized going forward.

"I do think the agency should seriously consider a formal hearing dealing with this issue generally," he said. “We've been doing this on a case-by-case basis. The Adirondacks is a special place, and we're going to get more of these applications in the future."

While the APA currently has no other pending applications for the use of Renovate, Griesmer said groups like his are looking at every possible tool they can use to combat invasives.

"Lake associations are first responders in trying to deal with invasive species," he said. "We've got a war going on here. It's not a problem that's going away."

Renovate is scheduled to be applied to Loon Lake via boat on May 13. Monitoring sites will be set up, no swimming will be allowed until at least three hours after the treatment, and the use of lake water for drinking or consumption won't be allowed until the chemical's concentration falls below a certain threshold.

Reporter Chris Knight's reporting is courtesy of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. For more of his work, go to AdirondackDailyEnterprise.com.

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