Eurasian watermilfoil is a non-native aquatic invasive species that forms thick mats in shallow areas of a lake, quickly growing and spreading, killing off native aquatic plants that fish and other underwater species rely on for food and shelter. The plant threatens the diversity and abundance of native plants as well as the ecological balance of lakes and ponds, which in turn adversely affects recreational opportunities. Other concerns are:
Since 2007, SLA has conducted the most robust, continuous effort of milfoil control in the Finger Lakes. For the first five years of the SLA Milfoil Control program, SLA reduced the species’ coverage in Skaneateles Lake using hand-pulling and benthic matting methods. From 2012 to present day, the milfoil has been at a “maintenance” control level using just the benthic matting method. Milfoil in Skaneateles Lake will never be eradicated, but we are fortunate our method keeps milfoil manageable.
The SLA Milfoil Control program consists of a lake survey each fall to locate and document large growth patches of milfoil. The Dr. Robert Werner Research and Education boat (“The Bob”) surveys the lake waters using sonar with GPS along with visual verification from rake tosses to locate milfoil growth. Large growth patches are mapped and analyzed. The discovered growth sites are prioritized by area size with highest priority going to the largest patches with density of 70% or more. In the following spring, Aquatic Invasives, Inc., is hired to “cover” those patches with benthic mats constructed from geotextile material. Each mat is left on a milfoil patch for a minimum of eight weeks to ensure complete elimination. Other factors such as lake depth, slope and stability of lake bottom and boat launch activity are decision factors in matting locations as well. More on the history of milfoil in Skaneateles Lake here.