EDITORIAL: Make the safe decision with Lake George

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Studies of time and motion show that the average driver makes 160 decisions for each mile they drive. In a hundred miles, that’s 16,000 decisions.

There’s a reason for that.

It’s because every little decision and reaction you make — adjusting for weather and traffic conditions, speeding up, slowing down, checking your side mirrors, checking your rearview mirror, steering, braking, changing lanes — has the potential to have a large impact on everything around you.

In a complex atmosphere with so many moving parts and constantly changing conditions like a highway, one bad decision could cause a chain reaction that could impact lives.

So it is with the decision to introduce a new element like an herbicide into a complex environment like Lake George.

Before any decision is made, one needs to make sure to have all the best information available and to have considered all possible impacts before taking action.

One wrong decision and the consequences could be disastrous — to plants, to fish, to wildlife, to the overall health of the lake and surrounding area, to recreational users of the lake and to the regional economy.

That’s why the Lake George Park Commission needs to withdraw its plans to apply for permits from the Adirondack Park Agency and state Department of Environmental Conservation to introduce the chemical ProcellaCOR into two bays in Lake George on an experimental basis to control Eurasian milfoil.

There is just too much that’s not known about the impact of the chemical and how it behaves in the conditions unique to Lake George to take the risk that it could upset the delicate balance of the lake ecosystem.

A state Supreme Court justice has already vacated APA permits for last year’s application, but the Park Commission is moving ahead this year with an identical application without addressing the many new and existing concerns raised by the Lake George Association, Lake George Waterkeeper, property owners, local government officials and others about the widespread implications of the application.

Until the commission has all the information it needs to make a sound decision on the use of the chemical and until it has considered all the potential negative impacts, it shouldn’t move forward with this application.

There are other effective methods being used to control milfoil in the lake, including manual harvesting and placing mats in the water that block sunlight and keep the milfoil from growing. They might be more cumbersome, expensive and time-consuming than injecting a chemical into the water, but right now, they’re the best option for controlling the plant until the impact of the herbicide is fully evaluated.

The chemical, according to its manufacturer, is most effective in tranquil waters with little disturbance. This application will take place in an open lake with areas in which water enters from streams.

Deeper water near the open bays will make it more difficult for sunlight to quickly dissipate the chemical once its done its job.

The Park Commission hasn’t fully explored the impact of the chemical on other plants that serve the lake.

The Nitella plant, for instance, provides habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates that fish feed upon. It also absorbs phosphorus, helping control algae in the lake. If the herbicide kills the Nitella, it could release the phosphorus back into the water and deprive the lake of its other benefits, according to Waterkeeper.

Among the other concerns raised by the lake protection groups are the potential impact on nearby wetlands that haven’t been fully considered.

And because ProcellaCOR hasn’t been used effectively under the exact conditions found in Lake George, officials can’t be sure it will have the desired effect of removing the milfoil in the bays, because it could be diluted by currents and other conditions.

With all that is unknown about this chemical, it’s just too risky to take the chance of introducing it into the lake, at least without further study and controls.

The Park Commission needs to withdraw its permit application. It needs to work with the Lake George Association, Lake George Waterkeeper and other groups to evaluate the chemical’s potential for positive and negative effects on the lake. And it needs to weigh the concerns raised by property owners, public officials, anglers and others.

Until it has all that information, it should not be seeking permission to apply this chemical in the lake.

As we know with driving our own cars, one poorly considered, rash decision can have devastating consequences.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

One Comment

What really needs to happen is a ban on the nitrogen fertilized lawns going to the edge of the lake to be banned. Just don’t fertilize your lawn. The fertilizer then feeds the milfoil. It might be hard on the owner’s ego to not have the greenest lawn but it’s better for everyone in the long run.

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