August 5, 2008

Saratoga Lake’s Milfoil Curbed: Use of Herbicide Kills Back Weeds That Are a Nuisance for Boaters

By Leigh Hornbeck, Albany Times Union, N.Y.

Aug. 5--STILLWATER -- Eurasian milfoil, an invasive plant that creates a nuisance for boaters and swimmers, is almost under control in Saratoga Lake, according to the Saratoga Lake Protection and Improvement District.

The district, which is supported by 1,400 taxpayers who live around the lake, paid for an application of a herbicide to kill the weeds. Last year the chemicals were used on the south end of the lake and in May the district moved to the east side. The cost of the project is $550,000 so far.

This year the district switched from the Sonar brand of herbicide to Renovate, a chemical that needs only three days of contact with the weed to work, rather than 30 days, said lake administrator Dean Long, the director of Environmental Planning for the LA Group in Saratoga Springs.

"It killed the milfoil on the east side or stressed it to the point its growth was slowed down and it is 80 to 90 percent under control," Long said.

In 2009, the district will complete the application cycle on the west side of the lake.

Milfoil grows in large floating beds that kill off native plants and can become tangled in boat propellers. Herbicide used to control milfoil is used in the early spring so it is absorbed by milfoil rather than the native plants that come up later in the season, Long said.

"We were happy the native weeds were not stressed," said Joe Finn, a representative from the town of Saratoga on the improvement district board.

Long said he expects the herbicide to work for three to five years with occasional spot treatment.

Milfoil is not the only nuisance growth in Saratoga Lake. Boaters are also plagued by zebra mussels and water chestnuts, which must be removed by hand.


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