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.
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.
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.