CAROGA — For decades, scuba divers have hand-picked invasive plants from the depths of Caroga Lake. It’s a dangerous mission.
And the town-funded program still isn’t enough to ward off Eurasian watermilfoil, maintained Walter Hogan, a West Caroga Lake Association member.
“You can’t just sit around and not do things differently year after year after year and costs are rising, rising, rising,” he said.
Back in March, Hogan applied for a $50,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Conversation to try out a new herbicide on the lake, ProcellaCOR. If awarded, it would fund a two-year chemical treatment study.
Hogan, who sits on the town’s lake management committee, is hopeful the grant will pass DEC’s ultimate smell test. The money would cover part of a pilot study, meaning that it’s not seen as an indefinite solution yet.
“Now it’s at the administrative level where [DEC] will decide, how much, when, etcetera,” said Jack Glenn, chair of the lake management committee. “There are still areas where they could wipe us out or knock us off the program, but [Hogan] says it sounds very much like it’s going to happen.”
DEC on Saturday noted that the application is under review and no determination has been made at this time.
Watermilfoil grows quickly. If not maintained, the invasive plant can destroy native species, make the lake practically unswimmable and plummet property values. Since arriving in the 1940s, it’s become present in 48 states.
Comparatively new is ProcellaCOR, which has been used in more than 30 state lakes, starting with Snyder’s Lake in Rensselaer County, since DEC officials OK’d four years ago. The treatment was greenlit by the EPA in 2017.
But it’s not been without controversy. Opponents fear that ProcellaCOR hasn’t been studied nearly enough and the chemical’s long-lasting effects have yet to be known.
The Lake George Association stood against plans from the Lake George Park Commission to use the substance in the so-concerned Queen of American Lakes, concerned about its impact on long-term impact wetlands and native plants.
Ultimately, LGPC’s plans last year were rejected by the state Supreme Court after the Adirondack Park Agency approved permits to use ProcellaCOR without a public review process.
Glenn is determined to avoid a similar situation from detractors by hosting meetings during the summer and detailing his hopes to the press.
“No one can say that no one told us. I want to mute that that potential argument immediately,” Glenn said.
If the study pans out, it would be the biggest development in the municipality’s 40-year war with the Eurasian pest. Combatting methods have predominantly hand-harvesting and boat washing.
Within the last two years, town officials have spent roughly $190,000 to quell watermilfoil. Should Caroga receive grant funding, it projects costs will go slightly and then, if successful, taper off in the long term.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.