[what follows is a portion of the report we file each year with the Vermont DEC as a condition of their grant in support of Lake Fairlee’s milfoil program]
Summary of Program Activities
Even from our first look at the lake in the late spring, the milfoil grew aggressively this year. We continued to employ the same methods we have used for the past several years, but were able to remove less milfoil this year than last. This was primarily caused by two factors. First, we faced declining funding from both private donors and from our State grant, which allowed us to employ the divers for three weeks less than last year. Second, more than half of our 2008 dive crew did not return, and our progress was impeded by the need to replace several crewmembers during the season.
During the summer it became apparent to many of us that this year the milfoil seemed to be out of control to an extent not previously seen. We are aware that this can be due to numerous factors, including cyclical population fluctuations, variation in sun and water temperature from year to year, as well as the effects of our harvesting program. We began a series of meetings with owners and other interested parties to consider the possibility of using an herbicide to treat the milfoil in Lake Fairlee. After consultation with the State, we invited two companies licensed to chemically treat Vermont lakes to come look at our problem and give us their recommendations. This led to our decision to employ Lycott Environmental, Inc., to conduct a comprehensive survey of aquatic species in the lake. At the time of this report we are working with Lycott to prepare an application for a permit to use triclopyr in Lake Fairlee late next spring.
The attached map shows the lake, and areas where we employed the following methods this year.
Hand pulling was employed at many locations around the lake. A total of 361 divers’ “catch” bags were filled and removed. Each bag holds slightly more than one cubic foot, but they are filled under water, and not packed as densely as the material which is suction harvested. In any case, this amounts to more than 13 cubic yards of milfoil removed.
Suction harvesting was also employed at several locations. A total of about 1230 cubic feet, or about 45½ cubic yards, was removed. See the section titled “Amount of Milfoil Harvested” for discussion of how this was calculated.
Bottom barriers were moved in late August this year. Again this year limited resources required us to lay off our divers before we wanted to, leaving some barriers in place for a second season.
Disposal: This year one of our divers had written a business plan and received a mini-grant to demonstrate of how harvested milfoil might profitably be composted and sold as fertilizer. For most of the summer he hauled the milfoil three miles to a field where it was allowed to compost. After work he would tend the compost piles, checking their internal temperature and turning them. He had intended to package the product in 50 lb. bags, but in the end he sold the entire quantity to a local farmer for use on his fields. For the first few days and last few weeks of the season we disposed of the milfoil as we had in previous years, by piling it across State Route 244 from the boat ramp. As usual, local gardeners and farmers removed it for use in their gardens almost as fast as it accumulated.
This year the dive crew worked from May 18th through September 3rd. They worked Monday through Thursday every week, including Memorial Day. Only occasionally did the weather or their equipment keep them from their primary activities, and they took advantage of those opportunities to perform maintenance and catch up with other support tasks.
Volunteers provide the administrative backbone of our operation. Members of the Board of Trustees have taken on significant operational responsibilities, in addition to their management role. The Treasurer did hours of office work including handling incoming mail, making deposits, managing the payroll, and filing tax and employment records. The Milfoil Program Director met with the divers several times each week to review progress and plan strategy. He drafted the grant application and the requests for permit modifications required by the State. He also created the educational “blog” on the Association’s website. Another trustee took responsibility for the Greeter program, which educates boaters entering and leaving the lake at the State boat ramp. Some undertook the significant fundraising required to support our effort. This requires letter writing, stuffing, and mailing, and individual solicitations. Finally other trustees managed an annual membership dinner and a benefactors’ cocktail party to thank and cultivate our supporters. In the face of the controversial decision to explore the “chemical option,” trustees stepped up and took leadership roles in the ensuing discussions.
This year funding from the state decreased, as did support from local residents and friends. This might be attributed in part to the economy. It is also certainly due to the disaffection of those members who have decided that we ought to be seeking to use chemicals because our present methods are not doing the job.
Many people donated in-kind services, including the use of boats, equipment storage, and office equipment. These are detailed in a later section.
Our equipment inventory can mostly be best described as “well used.” Fortunately the dive crew is experienced and competent with field repairs, and seems to be able to keep the aluminum boats afloat with duct tape and epoxy, and the outboards running without the help of outside mechanics. We continued to have trouble with our outboards this year, which slowed down our operation on more than one occasion. This ought not be a surprise, considering their age and condition. We made improvements to the pontoon boat, which we use for both suction harvesting and bottom barrier operations. Our bottom barriers and silt screen are still serviceable.
Our supplies consisted mostly of air tank refills for the divers and gas and oil for the boats. There were also a few trips to the hardware store and the marine supply for hardware and rope and repair parts.
A much more detailed explanation of many of our program activities can be found on our blog at http://lakefairlee.org. There one can find greater detail about the mechanics of our suction harvesting and bottom barrier operation as well as photographs of the lake and of the divers at work.