Archive for the ‘Mlfoil Education’ Category

A New Feature

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Posts to this blog occur at inconsistent intervals throughout the year.  Recently some thoughtful member asked if there was some way one could know when something new had been added.  This turned out not to be too difficult to implement, and now it is possible for you to subscribe to this blog, and receive an email notification when something is added.

In fact you can fine tune your subscription to receive notification only of posts in certain categories, such as ‘Herbicide’ or ‘The Dam.’  Also you can select whether you will receive the entire post or just the first few sentences, with a link to the complete text.

To sign up for a subscription, or to adjust the features of your subscription, look on the first page of the blog, called Welcome to Our Blog.  In the right column at the bottom is the eponymous heading “Subscribe to this blog.”  Voila!

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Plans for Summer 2011

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Over the winter we have been thinking about what our milfoil program next summer might look like.  We prepared the following narrative for our  State grant-in-aid application.  Any plans made this early are necessarily educated guesses at best, subject to revision when we see how much Eurasian milfoil we find growing when the ice is gone.

Also our possible funding shortage (see this post) might constrain what we can afford to do.

Project Description

Lake Fairlee is a medium sized lake, surrounded by the three towns of Fairlee, Thetford, and West Fairlee.  The Lake Fairlee Association is a not for profit membership corporation created to “preserve, protect, and enhance the distinctive ecology and natural resources of Lake Fairlee and its surrounding watershed.”  The Association works in partnership with the applicant Town of Thetford to manage the milfoil control program.

In 2010 we were granted a permit to treat the affected areas with the herbicide triclopyr, as part of a five-year plan.  The results were very satisfactory, with substantially all of the growing milfoil killed.  Nonetheless we do not know how much regrowth to expect this season.  Because there were mature well developed beds of milfoil, there may be rootstock that was not killed by last year’s herbicide treatment, from which new plants might appear.

With the help of our consultant, Lycott, Inc., our plan this summer will be intensive inspection and rapid response.  We will begin with a thorough survey of the entire lake early in the growing season.  Where there are isolated plants, they will be picked.  Where there are larger growths, they will be marked and a crew scheduled to return and pull them.  And if there is extensive growth, we will deploy benthic barriers.

In addition Lycott will conduct a third “scientific” survey in the late summer as required by our permit.

Education and Prevention

For four years the Lake Fairlee Association has developed and operated a greeter program at the State boat access.  It is our belief that prevention of the spread of E. milfoil is of paramount importance.  This is our most effective way of combating the transport of nuisance species in and out of our lake.

This year we hope to significantly increase the number of hours that the boat ramp will be attended, extending both the daily hours and the days covered.  We will employ three greeters, and hope to have a greeter present about 70 hours per week through July and August, and perhaps slightly fewer hours before and after, beginning Memorial Day weekend and lasting into mid September. We will try to schedule more coverage during the early morning and late afternoon hours preferred by many fishermen.

Each year we gain more experience hiring people with the requisite qualifications, and training and equipping them to do the job well.  We will improve our record keeping, including gathering more demographic information about those with whom we speak.  We will continue to explore the possibility of a boat washing station convenient to the launch. Other educational activities that we will continue include:

  • We will continue to use our ‘blog’ for education and outreach.
  • We will increase our participation in events that train the public in identifying E. milfoil and other invasive species and properly removing them.
  • We will raise public awareness of the threat milfoil poses to Vermont lakes and what can be done to impede its spread.  We will make presentations to the towns and to interested groups about the milfoil threat and what we can do about it.
  • We will continue to publish a periodic newsletter, which will include information about milfoil and our control program.
  • We will engage the public generally and enlist volunteers to monitor milfoil introduction and spread.

Personnel

Again this year we will not employ our own divers.  Instead we will contract with Lycott, who will provide the personnel and equipment to conduct the surveys and the milfoil control activities.  Volunteers will search the lake for new milfoil growth.  Our only employees will be our greeters.

Showing that our Greeter Program Works!

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

[following is an email dated August 6th, 2010, that speaks for itself]

Hi Libby,

I just received the sample you submitted that came from a boat inspected by your access area greeter, Liza.  The plant specimen is not Eurasian watermilfoil.  In fact, the specimen is fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana), an invasive plant not known to occur in Vermont, although there are known populations in neighboring states – including Massachusetts, from where the boat apparently came.

The only known populations of this plant in northern New England are in southern NH, but it has been introduced fairly widely in southern New England (MA, Conn, RI) and southern NY.  If the boat did not come from a waterbody with a known infestation it could indicate a new infestation that has not previously been detected.  It would be good to find out the specific waterbody this boat came from so that I can alert my colleagues in Massachusetts in case they aren’t aware of the infestation, and to let them know there may be a spread prevention issue for them as well.  If you could find that out for me I’d much appreciate it – or feel free to have Liza contact me directly.  Also, if this is a boat that makes frequent trips back and forth between Fairlee and an infested water in Massachusetts, it would be good to be sure that the boater is well educated about the importance of careful spread prevention.  Perhaps Liza will know whether this boat is a frequent visitor to Fairlee, or whether this was a one-time visit, and how receptive the boater was to her spread prevention information.

Hats off to Liza! This was a really important “save”!!!  It would be a shame to see this invasive plant (fanwort) become established in Fairlee or anywhere else in Vermont.  Although the plant was a little bit dried out when I received it, I believe it could have been sufficiently “alive” when Liza collected it to have been viable, and this plant fragment could have conceivably introduced this species into Fairlee.  This is what greeter programs and spread prevention are all about!  Well done!

[ . . . ]

Once again, congratulations on your successful greeter program, and thanks for all your efforts to protect Vermont’s waters!

Best regards,

Leslie J. Matthews, Ph.D.
Environmental Scientist
Water Quality Division
Department of Environmental Conservation

How to Keep the Milfoil from Returning

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

The herbicide appears to have worked its magic, and our milfoil is lying on the bottom of the lake in decay.  We know that this situation is only temporary, that the milfoil will return, sooner of later.  There are several things we can do to slow its return.

One of these is to prevent the introduction of new plants and fragments into the lake.  This most commonly occurs when a boat enters Lake Fairlee, having recently visited another lake.  Unless the boater is careful to wash off his boat, his motor, and his gear, fragments of Eurasian milfoil can wash off in our lake and can take root.  That is how a new infestation starts.

Many states have laws requiring that every boat be washed before entering a new lake.  Still more have nearby wash stations for the convenience of boaters.  We support both of these ideas, and will work to bring them to Lake Fairlee.

Greeter Program

Over the past three summers we have introduced and expanded our Greeter Program.  Our goal was to have someone stationed at the boat ramp during prime access hours to inform boaters about the threat of milfoil to our lake and others.  In the first years it was staffed by volunteers, and more recently by part time employees.  This summer Liza McEvoy represented us every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Our "Greeter," Liza, at her station by the lake

Unfortunately our greeter has no real authority, and cannot do more than advise boaters.  She asks each one if she can help them perform a “courtesy inspection,” and she shows them what to look for and where.  She explains about the threat and potential cost of new invasive species to our lake and to others.  She is our ambassador to the outside world, the only thing besides the ubiquitous “Warning” signs that many non-residents know about the Lake Fairlee Association.

The following is a handout that Liza has available for visitors:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES FACT SHEET

MOST COMMON PATHWAYS THAT INTRODUCE NEW SPECIES:

  1. Canals and waterways (shipping) – (e.g. From the Great Lakes on ship hull to Lake Champlain. From Lake Champlain to a boat trailer and then to a new body of water)
  2. Overland transport (trailers)
  3. Fishermen’s felt-soled gaters, boots, gear
  4. Introduced as ornamentals  (ex. Loosestrife)
  5. Aquariums (releasing aquarium fish, plants or water into lake, river, etc.)
  6. Ducks and geese
  7. Illegal stocking (e.g. “alewives”) Need to have a permit to release any fish into water.

THE BIG THREE AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES IN VERMONT:

1. Eurasian Milfoil (looks very similar to many native milfoils)

  • crowds out native spceies
  • can produce dense mats over the surface
  • reproduces rapidly through fragmentation
  • 64 lakes and ponds, and 25 other bodies of water in VT have Eurasian milfoil
  • 2-3 new infestations are reported each year

***NEW invasive milfoil found last year in one location –  Hall’s Pond, in Newbury, VT. “Variable-leaved Milfoil” is more difficult to control than Eurasian Milfoil.

2. Water Chestnut

  • floating clusters create a dense canopy on the surface which allows no light        through. This kills all the native plants beneath.
  • Spreads by seeds. It’s an annual plant, but one seed can live in the sediment for 10 years (!). The plants must be harvested BEFORE they go to seed for management to be effective.

3. Zebra Mussels

  • Native to the Caspian Sea. Came to U.S. via international shipping into through Lake Champlain Canal. Young zebra mussels are microscopic. They can be transported via water so bilges and bait buckets should be cleaned, and water in motor should be drained. They can get entangled in plant material, so remove all plants. If they attach to boat hulls, they may be invisible but can be felt if you run your hand across the surface.

OTHER AQUATIC THREATS:

1. Didymo (common name= “rock snot”)

  • Algae that prefers moving water and rocky bottoms, but could float down to our outlet stream where it could settle and multiply…then move to the Ompompanoosuc and into the CT River. Didymo is already in the White River and CT River – so boats traveling here after being in either river could bring it to the lake. Didymo is microscopic and is most often carried unknowingly on boat hulls and felt-soled fishing boots and waders. Cells will thrive in moist conditions for weeks unless boats and gear are washed thoroughly and dried in the sun for 5 days.

2. Baitfish

  • VHS is a coldwater fish virus that causes bleeding and large scale mortality in fish and 36 other aquatic species. Once it is found in a lake, you cannot get rid of it. The virus can be carried in a live well from one body of water to another. Emptying and cleaning live wells will help keep the virus from spreading.

IF FISH ARE TRANSFERRED FROM ONE BODY OF WATER TO ANOTHER, THEY CAN SPREAD VHS WHILE SHOWING NO EXTERNAL SYMPTOMS. Buy baitfish ONLY at certified dealers:

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife web site lists certified baitfish dealers: http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com/fish_baitdealers.cfm

  • Fisherman are allowed to harvest baitfish ONLY on the lake in which they fish in. Do not transport baitfish to another body of water.
  • Alewives have been responsible for huge fishkills on Lake Champlain and elsewhere.
  • Rusty Crayfish (red spot on side) are harmful. They have been found in Lake Morey. Native crayfish are okay. Buying baitfish at a state-approved distributor will help ensure the right kind of crayfish.

CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS (WHEN MOVING BOAT TO NEW BODY OF WATER):

1. Always remove debris and plants from:

  • propeller
  • trolling motor (check shaft)
  • transom
  • trailer lights and license plates
  • behind wheel wells
  • hitch and auto bumper
  • bunks on trailer
  • axle
  • chains
  • fishing gear
  • anchors

2. Always drain the bilge and live wells.

3. If possible, rinse boat with hose or dry in sun for 5 days.

4. Even better, power wash with soapy water at a car wash or at home.

ABOUT THE LAKE FAIRLEE ASSOCIATION

The LFA has used the traditional 3-weapon offense against Eurasian milfoil in the past: hand-pulling by divers, bottom barriers, and use of a suction harvester. However, these methods could not keep pace with the exponential spread of milfoil. The decision was made this year to treat the lake with an herbicide which targets milfoil specifically. You can learn more about the research that led to this new strategy, and about the permit issued by the state DEC Water Quality Division, by going to our blog via our website (www.lakefairlee.org). Based on the post-treatments assessments on Lake Morey after they used the same herbicide, we are hopeful that Lake Fairlee will experience similar success.

The lake does NOT have zebra mussels or other invasive species yet, but that is why it is so important to wash your boat and trailer before coming on to this lake from another body of water. Lake Champlain has many more invasive species than milfoil and we want to keep Lake Fairlee free of other nuisance plants/animals.

Join The Lake Fairlee Association and become involved in preserving the lake.

If you are interested in joining or learning more about the lake association, write your name and address on the sign up sheet with the Greeter and go to www.lakefairlee.org. There will be a link to our blog that will have updated information about upcoming events, some history, education, and more.        

Milfoil in Lake Fairlee – July 2010 Update

Friday, July 9th, 2010

[ We were asked to provide a brief statement on the milfoil in Lake Fairlee to be used by the guides on the boat tours of the lake offered as part of LAKEFEST 2010. We include it here, as it provides a concise summary. ]

Eurasian Milfoil is a floating aquatic plant native to Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. It was imported and sold in the United States as a decorative aquarium plant. It has become a problem in many northern lakes, and has been in our lake for over fifteen years. It grows faster than many native lake plants, and tends to crowd out the native plants and can drastically alter a lake’s ecology.

Because it roots in the lake bottom and reaches for the sunlight at the surface, it grows primarily in water less than 15 feet deep. Even a small fragment can take root, so it spreads easily within a water body and from lake to lake, traveling on boat bottoms and trailers. In the spring it is frail and brittle, and easily fragmented. In the summer it grows strong and thick. If allowed to spread unchecked it threatens to clog the lake with dense mats of plant material. Parts of the lake can become inhospitable to boaters and swimmers, and ultimately property values and tax revenues may suffer.

The Lake Fairlee Association recognized the threat posed by Eurasian Milfoil fifteen years ago, and began a series of escalating responses intended to eliminate or at least control it.  Initially we used hand pulling of the plants and their roots.  In 2002 we began using bottom barriers for some of the most problematic areas.  In 2004 we built and deployed a suction harvester to make the hand pulling much more efficient.

These methods were not sufficient.  In fact, the milfoil has continued to spread in spite of our best efforts.  Scientific surveys we had conducted last summer found moderate or dense milfoil growth in 26% of the lake.  Late this spring we obtained a permit from the State to treat the lake with an herbicide, triclopyr, to which the milfoil is particularly susceptible.  In early June Lycott Environmental, Inc., a firm licensed to do this kind of work in Vermont, applied triclopyr to the areas of heavy milfoil growth.

The chemical has had its effect, and the milfoil in the lake is now dead or dying.  Most of the plants can be seen decaying on the bottom of the lake.  There has been negligible effect on other species of plants, and no observed effects on fish, birds, or other animals in the lake.  We have been testing the lake water in ten locations since the treatment, and the State has declared the lake’s water safe for drinking – at least as far as the herbicide concentration is concerned!

Late this summer another detailed survey will ascertain just how successful our treatment has been.  Until then we will enjoy swimming and boating in the open water of the lake.  And we will redouble our efforts at educating boaters how to wash their boats and equipment to curtail the further spread of milfoil and other aquatic nuisances from lake to lake.

May 1st – Latest News

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Herbicide Permit

It has been eight weeks since this blog has posted a status update on our herbicide permit application.  We have been waiting, and waiting, for some good news to pass along.  What we do know is that the period for comments has passed, three comments were received from the public, of which two were favorable.  The Departments of Health and of Fish and Wildlife have given their input.  The Draft permit has been completed, and has been sent to the Lakes and Ponds Section Chief for comment.

Beyond this we can only surmise.  We have been told informally that the permit will be “favorable” and that it will be issued “in time.”  All we know for sure is that our permit is wending its way through the bureaucracy.  We will announce any further developments here as soon as we have them.

Greeter Program

This year the we will be increasing the number of hours that we have a greeter present at the boat ramp to almost twice what we were able to do last year.  With the hoped for success of the herbicide treatment, prevention will become even more important.  We urge the State to consider legislation requiring boaters to wash their boats and equipment before entering any lake.

Business

Your Association has begun this year’s fundraising to pay for the milfoil program.  We will have to raise considerably more this year than ever before to pay for the chemical treatment.  The voters in the three towns adjacent to the lake voted to continue each town’s support.  We sent a letter to our membership asking each member to consider doubling her previous gift.  Early returns are promising.

Reminder

Our annual meeting and barbecue will be on Saturday July 10th at Horizons Day Camp.

2009 Greeter Program Report

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

This is the third year of our Greeter/Education initiative at the boat launch. After two years of attempting to “man” the launch with a short, and ever diminishing, roster of  revolving volunteers, the Lake Fairlee Association Board decided that we needed to budget for a paid greeter this summer. This would improve the educational benefits by maintaining some quality control: a consistent, well-informed message would be delivered in a consistently non-threatening way and hopefully, the logs would be more complete for more accurate data collection. Administratively, having a paid greeter we could count on would simplify things: there would be one training session at the beginning of the season rather than a quick overview with each new volunteer, and it would eliminate the constant angst of trying to schedule volunteers during busy summer weekends. We were fortunate enough to find a mature finish carpenter/law student, Aaron Gilbert, who grew up going to camp on the lake, lives locally and is a scuba diver by avocation. His wife is on the Thetford Conservation Commission, and they are both committed to preserving Lake Fairlee.

Program Details

The Board had budgeted for 14 weekends, including the 3-day holiday weekend of Labor Day in September. However, due to an unusually wet summer, our greeter worked on only 21 Saturdays and Sundays, starting the first weekend in June and ending on the Monday of Labor Day. He worked at the launch a total if 91 hrs.,  making personal contact with boaters (most likely 2 or more people/boat) from 209 different vessels ranging from canoes and kayaks, sail boats, recreation boats and fishing boats. Aaron gave each boater the following handouts:

  • The Lake Fairlee Association Fact Sheet (1.5 pgs. of information that has been culled from the past three years of Greeter Workshop Presentations at the DEC in Montpelier)
  • Instructions for washing boats
  • A map if Vermont bodies of water, with specific locations of invasive species
  • A map of N.H. bodies of water with specific locations of invasive species
  • A “STOP AQUATIC HITCHIKERS!” sticker from the  U.S. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Service to put on each boat trailer hitch as a reminder to check their boats when leaving a body of water, and to wash thoroughly.

Greeter Logs

Aaron conscientiously completed the Greeter Log each day he was at the ramp. The data he collected revealed a few interesting facts.

  • Boaters from 8 of the vessels were unaware of invasive species
  • He found milfoil on 5 boats as they left Lake Fairlee, thus preventing Eurasian Milfoil to hitchhike on these boats to another body of water.
  • 11 boats, which had not been washed after being on another body of water,  entered Lake Fairlee. In reality, this number could be higher, since boaters (through our education and other lake’s programs) know it is preferable  to say their boat has been washed.
  • The “unwashed boats” came from other bodies of water that have known invasive species (ie., 6 from lake Morey, 2 from the CT. River, 1 from Mascoma Lake).
  • The majority of boats coming to Lake Fairlee that were last on other bodies of water came from either Lake Morey (27 boats) or the CT River (31 boats).
  • 5 boats came to Lake Fairlee after being on Lake Champlain where they have more invasive species than Eurasian Milfoil.
  • 4 boats came from Hall’s Pond in Newbury, VT where variable-leaf milfoil has been discovered recently.
  • The boaters who were most interested in our Greeter Program came from  Lake Champlain, the Androscoggin River in Maine, the Bay of Fundy (!), Groton Pond, and Harvey Lake. All of these boaters were keenly aware of the issue of invasive species and came from lakes or rivers where there are already strong prevention programs at work, and/or they have state laws mandating the washing of boats.

Training for Boating Counselors

The Lake Fairlee Greeter Program extended its spread prevention awareness this summer to the 5 summer camps on the lake. A workshop was coordinated with Leslie Matthews of the DEC at the beginning of the summer. Boating counselors from two of the camps attended the workshop, listened to the presentation and received handouts to bring back to the camps to “spread the word” to their camp community. A folder of handouts was personally delivered to the three camps which were unable to send counselors to the workshop explaining the importance and relevance of spread prevention in their boat departments. Efforts will continue next summer to more fully engage these three camps.

Overall, the board feels that the greeter program makes an impact each summer. In a perfect world we would have a greeter at the launch daily,  from Memorial Day through Labor Day, delivering a powerfully cogent message to instill a “wash before you float” ethic within each boater. More importantly perhaps, we would have a wash station nearby and state sanctions imposed on boaters to enforce following such an ethic.

Consultant’s Report Now Available

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
Click here to download report

Click above to download report

The Lake Fairlee Association Board has received the Aquatic Vegetation Report prepared by Lycott Environmental, Inc., and has begun to discuss its implications.  This report will be the subject of our third public meeting, to be held on Wednesday, October 14th. (details here)  You can download the whole report HERE.  It is a pdf file and is eighteen pages long.  We invite you to read it so that you will better understand our deliberations.

This report is the result of several surveys of the lake conducted this summer.  It includes scientifically collected data from over 200 locations around the lake, including the kinds and density of various species, and particularly of Eurasian milfoil.   It concludes that “approximately 120 acres, or about 26% of the lake’s surface area is infested” with Eurasian milfoil.

What this report does NOT include are recommendations about what we should do.  In private conversations the consultant has said that our lake is a good candidate for herbicide treatment.  But the decision is ours.  If we decide to apply for a permit for next summer the details of our proposal will be hammered out with the State regulators.  We will be continuing to explore this possibility, gathering information about what the treatment would consist of, how long it might take, and what it would cost.

Please read the report and come to one of our public meetings.  The lake may be “owned” by the State of Vermont, but it is our lake, and it needs our care.

Public Meeting set for October 14th

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

At our request, Lycott Enviromental, Inc., has conducted a comprehensive survey of Lake Fairlee.  They are preparing a report, which will provide us with a detailed analysis of the milfoil and other plants in the lake.  This survey is also required by the State as part of an application to use an herbicide next summer, should we pursue that option.

We hope to receive the report by early October, and are eager to learn its conclusions.  We have scheduled this meeting  to share it with the public.  We have invited Lee Lyman, the founder and president of Lycott, to join us.  He will answer questions about milfoil control, about herbicide use, and about his firm.

The meeting will be held at the West Fairlee Community Center, located just to the right of Bean Hall (bright red roof) on Route 113 in West Fairlee. [MAP]  We will begin promptly at 7:00 pm and will not go beyond 9:00 pm.

New Herbicide Resource Page

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

In the summer of 2009 the Lake Fairlee Association first seriously considered the use of an herbicide to control our milfoil.  To help us decide how best to care for the lake we collected the best information we could find about what we called “the chemical alternative.”  Links to various sources are scattered through this blog, and appear in numerous posts.

To make it easier to find this information we have created a new resource page, where we will collect these links.  You can find this page at the top of the right column of this blog, under ‘Pages,’ where it is called Herbicide Resource, or you get there by clicking HERE.

In addition we have recently added a new “Category,” also in the column on the right, under “Milfoil Erradication,” called “Herbicide.”  Click that link to see an archive of every page related to the question of chemicals in the lake.