Help stop lake weed

There is much beauty in the 44 lakes in Fulton County, but there might be something lurking under the water’s surface that’s not pretty.

As we enter the warm-weather season, we’d like to remind everyone how important it is to be aware of aquatic invasive species.

Eurasian milfoil, a spiny seaweed not native to North America, has been a problem locally, and the biggest weapon in combating the invasive plant is education, said Jack DeWeese, coordinator of the town of Caroga’s invasive aquatic weed extraction in Caroga Lake.

The Adirondack Landowners Association is working with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and local counties throughout upstate New York to raise awareness about aquatic invasive species this year. We applaud the efforts.

The three-part program educates people by sending brochures with renewals for boat and trailer registrations, providing space in local Department of Motor Vehicle offices for signs and brochures to get the word out about the problem, and involving the private sector.

The ALA will work with North Country business owners and town government officials to offer posters and handouts with information on how to prevent the spread of invasive species throughout the Adirondacks.

The spiny invasive Eurasian milfoil first came to North America on large boats, and the weed still can spread from water vessels.

DeWeese said the best way to prevent the spread of the invasive aquatic weed is to be vigilant and know how to identify it.

“People should check their boats and trailers when they take them out of the water and when they put them back in,” DeWeese said. “Look for any type of plant life and get it off the axles, propellers.”

If the weed is seen in a lake, DeWeese said boaters should put a buoy in the water indicating the location. He said milfoil grows fast. Last summer, some patches were growing a foot per week in East and West Caroga lakes.

DeWeese said he’s going out today to evaluate the milfoil growth in the Caroga lakes.

“Last year, we got an amazing amount of Eurasian milfoil. It grew nicely because we had such a mild winter and the water stayed warm,” DeWeese said.

He said divers did a good job of removing it last year, and the recent winter was more harsh than the previous winter, so he’s optimistic about what he’ll find today.

DeWeese said milfoil can damage fish populations and make swimming uncomfortable. It soaks up nutrients and leaves no room for the native weeds the lake needs.

Milfoil in lakes also can affect the area’s economy, as it can lower property values.

According to the Caroga Lake Marina’s website, milfoil leads to eutrophication, the process in which algae and weeds consume the water’s oxygen, threatening to turn the lakes into swamps. People can identify milfoil by its spiny appearance and multiple shoots.

DeWeese said Eurasian milfoil is a favorite for home aquariums, but people shouldn’t dump their unwanted aquarium water into a lake.