Lake Management Update by Gene Audi
Lake Management Update
Happy New Year to our LHA member community and other readers! It’s been a while since we last updated you on our lake management activities. A lot has transpired over the summer and fall months and I’m happy to report that, after a minor setback in September, we have refocused and reenergized our efforts to address the growing milfoil infestation in our beautiful lake.
You may recall at our annual membership meeting last July, Diane Moore outlined a plan to pursue a north end herbicide treatment in the spring of 2014 followed by a south end treatment in 2015 with concurrent removal of milfoil by other methods in outlying areas. Consistent with this plan, the Town of Fort Ann contracted with Lycott Environmental to complete required lake surveys and permitting through the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on our behalf. Lycott completed an initial survey in late August which showed milfoil now exists, in varying densities, in about 90% of the lake’s littoral zone, the shallow area between the shoreline and open waters. On September 10th, Lycott informed us of a late breaking APA requirement for a botanical survey of the downstream wetlands (south of the dam). In order to meet APA permitting requirements for a spring 2014 herbicide application, the downstream survey had to be completed by September 15th, along with a more extensive Tier III aquatic plant survey performed by Lycott. We immediately sought APA clarification of this new requirement and requested an extension to the mid-September deadline, but were not successful. APA officials explained that surveying done after mid-September would not provide the most accurate assessment of aquatic plant life since the peak growing season is late August to mid-September. This rule applies to all lakes in the Adirondack Park.
We spent the last few days before the deadline attempting to locate and hire a botanist to complete the wetland survey, but were unable to. With no other reasonable options available, the Town and LHA agreed to step back and regroup. Although this was not the outcome we had hoped for, Joe and I could not be more pleased with the cooperation between the LHA Board, the Town of Fort Ann, Darlene Dumas and Gretchen Stark in particular, and Diane Moore and Gene Connell who continue to closely support our lake management efforts with their expertise and historical knowledge of Hadlock Lake. We all share the common goal of doing what is right for the lake.
With the events of 2013 fresh in our minds, we turned quickly to charting our course for 2014. Following several meetings, conference calls and far too many e-mails, the Town and LHA made the decision to hire a professional lake manager to help us navigate through the complexities of APA/DEC permitting and milfoil control techniques. In early December, the Town, in full cooperation with LHA, signed an agreement with Steven LaMere, Certified Lake Manager and President & CEO of Adirondack Ecologists, LLC. Steve has worked as project manager on over 100 lake projects across the state and is an expert in milfoil control. He is highly respected by APA and DEC officials and operates from a set of principles we felt would best represent our interests. At a meeting with Steve on December 18th, he shared his initial assessment of Hadlock Lake and discussed various options for 2014 and beyond. In preparation for the meeting, Steve reviewed several years of information and data about the lake – historical aquatic plant survey and CSLAP water quality reports, bathymetry data (water depths), existing APA permits, and maps Lycott produced showing current locations of milfoil. He also contacted APA officials to hear their perspectives on Hadlock Lake. He laid out a “most probable” scenario for 2014 that would include an integrated approach of mechanical and hand harvesting, benthic blankets in target locations and a potential deeper drawdown of the lake in October. Additionally, we would need to go through another cycle of lake and downstream surveying to support a potential north end herbicide treatment in the spring of 2015. Of course, more work is needed to finalize the plan and obtain Regulator concurrences.
At Steve’s suggestion, we are scheduling a meeting with APA and DEC officials in late January to explore all options and establish any boundary conditions we must be aware of to avoid a repeat of 2013. This will be a first for us – to have Town, LHA and Regulator representatives, as well as our new Lake Manager, in one room focused on the same objective – a short and longer term milfoil control plan for Hadlock Lake. Following this important meeting, we will provide another update which we are optimistic will include a more concrete, executable plan for 2014 and 2015. We have learned the path to success will involve environmental, ecological, financial, political and regulatory factors, as well as patience and a lot of teamwork. We certainly have the best team possible to see this through.
We sincerely hope you are all in good health and spirits and keeping warm during these winter months. It won’t be long before spring arrives and the snow melts, so enjoy it while it’s here!