HAGUE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Periodically, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will open the door for public input on goings-on through the Adirondacks. This week, the state agency posted the latest list of public comment topics online. Two among them concern the protection of Lake George.

The APA is using an aquatic herbicide at two points along Lake George. Both are located on the upper west side of the lake, in the town of Hague; one at Blairs Bay, and the other at Sheep Meadow Bay. At both sites, the problem is growth of Eurasian Watermilfoil, an invasive plant species that grows quickly in water bodies it’s tracked into.

The solution being used by the state is the herbicide ProcellaCOR EC, which is being applied along roughly 7.6 acres between the two bays. According to information from APA Public Information Officer Keith McKeever, the pesticide is effective against milfoil at a low dosage.

“The Federal Environmental Protection Agency considers ProcellaCOR EC practically non-toxic to fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, which is the lowest toxic value that can be assigned by the federal agency” said McKeever. “It has been approved for use in New York state since 2019.”

The use of ProcellaCOR EC at the two bays would be the pesticide’s first use in Lake George. That’s not the only place it’s been used, though. The APA approved use of the pesticide at Minerva Lake in the town of Minerva in 2020.

According to reporting by the Adirondack Explorer newspaper, 8.73 gallons of ProcellaCOR EC eliminated all traces of Eurasian Watermilfoil across 41 acres along Minerva Lake, all in the space of about 20 weeks. The APA conducted monitoring throughout 2021 that found no significant impact on other plants, or degradation in wetlands.

Short-term use, long-term concerns

Not every group tasked with caring for Lake George or the Adirondacks is convinced about ProcellaCOR EC yet. The Lake George Association (LGA) is concerned that the work at Minerva Lake doesn’t constitute enough long-term evidence of the herbicide’s safety. Some factors have to be measured over a lot of time.

“The LGA has serious concerns about the use of ProcellaCOR, or any herbicide or chemical agent, as a test against milfoil until much more extensive scientific research is done to determine the immediate and long-term residual impact on the lake’s chemistry and integrated food web,” said LGA Chairman Jeff Killeen and Vice Chairman Peter Menzies. “We have begun working with the Lake George Park Commission to address our concerns and focus on priority research recommendations to ensure that informed decisions are made to realize the strongest possible protection of Lake George.”

The LGA currently funds the Lake George Park Commission’s milfoil management program, which consists of employees harvesting milfoil out of the lake by hand, so as to minimize harm. The association’s plan is to continue pushing that plan forward. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has proposed an increase in state funding that could lead to more funds that the LGA could work with.

New York’s Invasive Species Information website goes into detail about the impact caused by Eurasian Watermilfoil, which has spread to water bodies in at least 45 states. The plant roots in winter, starting to grow earlier in the spring than many native plants due to its tolerance of lower minimum temperatures than many local species. Not only does it overcrowd other plants, but also develops canopies near the water’s surface, which reduces light reaching other plant life underwater.

In some cases, other states have made their own observations about the effectiveness of ProcellaCOR EC and the drawbacks that could manifest. From a document on the herbicide’s use by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources:

“It is important to note that repeated use of herbicides with the same mode of action can
lead to herbicide-resistant plants, even in aquatic plants. Certain hybrid Eurasian watermilfoil genotypes have been documented to have reduced sensitivity to aquatic herbicides. In order to reduce the risk of developing resistant genotypes, avoid using the same type of herbicides year after year, and utilize effective, integrated pest management strategies as part of any long-term control program.”

Public comment for both the Sheep Meadow Bay and Blairs Bay sites is being collected online through the APA. Commenters must provide contact information including name and email. Other items up for public comment include a new distillery and tasting room opening in Fort Ann, a wetlands-adjacent subdivision project in Ausable, and the construction of a solar plant in Crown Point.