For the first time since 1987, the year the Lake George Park Commission launched its annual effort to control the spread of Eurasian watermilfoil, the plant was hand harvested from waters near Shepard Park Beach.
According to the 2022 “Lake George Milfoil Project Annual Report,” released January 24, divers removed more than 16,000 pounds of milfoil from the area.
Though the aquatic plant was harvested outside the swimming area, Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais said he was pleased to see the inasive weed removed from Village waters, as it interferes with boating and other recreational activities.
According Christopher Sheldon, owner of Vermont-based AE Commercial Diving Services, a dive crew was sent to the site to remove panels of deteriorating benthic barriers, something the Lake George Park Commission has been doing throughout the lake since 2020.
“We noticed a large bed of milfoil growing on top of the barriers. After consulting with the Lake George Park Commission, we determined that the best course of action would be to remove the milfoil, which was accomplished over the next two weeks,” Sheldon wrote in “Lake George Milfoil Project Annual Report.”
Using the company’s “diver-assisted suction harvesting” method, in which divers feed milfoil to a suction tube mounted on a pontoon boat, crews from AE Commercial Diving Services also cleared areas near the Village docks, some for the first time.
“The beds of Eurasian Watermilfoil were very large and dense in the corner between the para-sail company and the Marine Patrol docks. The site has heavy boat traffic throughout the season, making (harvesting milfoil there) challenging work,” Sheldon wrote.
Sheldon noted that milfoil plants are scattered and the beds less dense between the docks and Million Dollar Beach, where AE divers have been working for the past four summers.
“The location northeast of Million Dollar Beach still looks good and minimal effort was needed to maintain it this season. Most of the material removed, and time spent this season was closer to the east shore and north of the boat launch,” Sheldon wrote.
Sheldon recommended that all three sites – Million Dollar Beach, Shepard Park Beach and the Village Docks – be monitored every season in order to determine when and if the company’s “diver-assisted suction harvesting” should be repeated.
In the course of the 2022 season, the Lake George Park Commission and its contractor removed more than 64 tons of Eurasian Watermilfoil from 31 sites around the lake at a cost of nearly $360,000.
Approximately $220,000 of that amount was supplied by New York State. The Lake George Association contributed $140,000.
According to a 2014 report by the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP), Eurasian watermilfoil infestations create pockets of stagnant water that provide breeding grounds for mosquitos and interferes with swimming, boating and fishing. It has also been shown to discourage tourism and devalue property.