Materials for the Informational Meeting

This is the sheet that was handed out at the meeting.  It is reproduced here for the benefit of those who could not attend.

Lake Fairlee Informational Meeting
Thursday July 23, 2009

Goals for this meeting:

  • To bring together lake users
  • To share information about the condition of the lake
  • To learn what LFA has been doing about milfoil, and to what effect
  • To hear from constituents
  • To learn from each other
  • To work towards understanding how best to care for the lake

Each of us should:

  • Try to keep an open mind, and to LISTEN to other speakers
  • Respect whoever has the floor, as you would hope that s/he would respect you
  • Identify yourself by name and connection(s) to the lake
  • Try to plan your questions or remarks so as to be brief


  • Skip Brown (LFA) will act as moderator
  • First he will give preliminary remarks, summarizing where we are and how we got here
  • Then will introduce the representatives from the State
  • They may make a few observations, but are present primarily to answer our questions
  • Everyone who wants to speak will be afforded an opportunity. This means that you may not get a second chance until others have had theirs.


  • Directors of the Lake Fairlee Association
  • Divers – employees of LFA who know the condition of the lake better than anyone
  • Representative of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental conservation. These are the folks who license and help fund our milfoil program, AND who are charged with licensing and monitoring chemical applications such as in Lake Morey

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Fact, Surmise, and Opinion

1.    Milfoil has been growing in Lake Fairlee for at least 15 years.
2.    LFA has been removing it for almost that long.  Until recently we used only hand pulling. Now we also use suction harvesting and bottom barriers
3.    LFA has been spending in excess of $100,000 per year to remove milfoil — about 40% from the State, 10% from the towns, and 50% from donations.   (thank you all)
4.    Milfoil spreads three ways: by seeding, by root propagation, and by fragmentation.  Yes, we know that harvesting also spreads it.  But at this point we are resigned to removing as much as we can each season.
5.    Other factors affect the amount of milfoil in the lake as much as or more than our eradication efforts.  These include lake temperature, sunlight, and phosphate levels.
6.    The milfoil is growing and spreading faster than we can remove it.  Our divers remove an estimated 10 to 15 percent of the milfoil each season. IF we had two or three full time dive crews we might be able to get ahead of it.
7.    Membership and donations in support of our dive program are declining.  Again this year we will likely have to stop our dive program early due to lack of funding.
8.    Some members believe that we should follow Lake Morey’s lead and use a herbicide to kill the milfoil.  Even if we did this and it removed all or most of the milfoil we would have to continue a (more modest) dive program to ensure that the milfoil not become widespread again.
9.    Other members are adamantly opposed to the use of ANY chemicals in the lake, fearful of unknown consequences and mindful of the many examples of man’s disastrous intervention with nature.
10.    To date we have put NO chemicals in the lake, nor have we spent one dollar on planning for chemical treatment.  We have, however, invited two companies to inspect the lake and advise us on possible courses of action, including chemicals.

Triclopyr is the chemical used to kill milfoil in Lake Morey

It is an herbicide that mimics a plant growth hormone.  It affects certain grasses.  In the doses used (2.5 parts per million) it is not toxic to humans, animals or fish.  It has no known reproductive toxicity, teratogenic effects, nor carcinogenic effects.
It has been in use since 1979.  (DDT was used for more than 30 years before being banned)
Over 70,000 lbs are used annually in the USA.  (I am not claiming this is a good thing)
It breaks down rapidly in water.  Renovate OTF (the triclopyr formulation used in Lake Morey) is a triethylamine salt, which dissolves in water and breaks down with a half life of 2.8 to 14.1 hours, depending on season and depth. (photolysis needs sunlight)
A toxic dose of triclopyr (LD/50) for a 120 pound person would be ingesting about an ounce of the raw chemical before it is applied, or drinking more than 3800 gallons of water to which it has been added. It is not readily absorbed through the skin.  It can cause burning of the eyes (hence the no swimming rule).