By Gwendolyn Craig
A surprise garden of invasive aquatic plants growing off the shores of Million Dollar Beach in Lake George in 2019, appears to be nearly gone.
That’s good news for swimmers and boaters alike, though it cost more than $100,000 to remove.
David Wick, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission, said a “wicked dense” bed of Eurasian watermilfoil was discovered around the East Brook Delta off of Million Dollar Beach last year. While the milfoil hadn’t crept into the designated swim area yet, it was precariously close to the beach’s boat launch.
Wick was surprised property owners and boaters hadn’t said something sooner.
Lake George contracts with AE Commercial Diving to remove the invasive species. Divers pull up the root of the plant and place it into an underwater vacuum. Five weeks of harvesting last year, at the cost of about $100,000, showed results when Wick swam the area on Tuesday.
“This is 99.9% down,” Wick said, surveying the lake bottom while snorkeling. “This is pretty amazing.”
Another good sign Wick saw was more native plants growing back on the lake bottom.
Pat Dowd, communications director for the Lake George Association, said the diver-assisted suction harvesting is making a difference on Lake George. The underwater vacuum allows small fragments, which can sprout new roots and grow new plants, to get sucked up.
After a day of pulling out the plants by the roots, Wick said the divers will go back again and vacuum up any straggling pieces.
“It takes them longer,” Wick said of the divers, “but it’s effective.”
There were a few hearty milfoil plants remaining, which Wick said could be hand-pulled this year. That will be a significantly less cost at around $7,500.
Overall, the Park Commission spends about $500,000 a year on managing milfoil. Several partners and grants help pay the bill. Lake George has had milfoil since 1986. More than $5 million has been spent, according to the Park Commission, on attempts to get the fast-growing weed under control.
Milfoil harvesting this year will wrap up in the fall, Wick said. The Park Commission will present its latest progress report on milfoil throughout the lake toward the end of the year.
To report any possible sightings of milfoil on Lake George, call 518-668-9347. For more information on milfoil in Lake George, go to https://lgpc.ny.gov/invasive-species-management.
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