I write in response to Meg Handler’s letter that appeared in your Sept. 3 edition. As president of the Lake Iroquois Association, It is necessary to provide a more realistic, data-based report on the health of Lake Iroquois.
Contrary to the letter’s position, the serious infestation of Eurasian Watermilfoil in Lake Iroquois continues this year. Dense surface mats haven’t formed as prominently this year compared to last year. This is not unusual. There is regular variation in surface matting year to year. Surface matting is not an indicator of infestation density.
The writer suggests the milfoil is not pressuring native aquatic plant species. This can’t be known absent an aquatic plant survey. The LIA has regularly contracted for aquatic plant surveys conducted by the Darrin Freshwater Institute, an independent scientific organization. These show that the milfoil is squeezing out native plants (lakeiroquois.org/water/plant-surveys). Behavioral studies of invasives show this pattern will continue. Milfoil has no natural predators or limitations in this environment. It will continue to outcompete native species. Such loss is far from trivial. Milfoil provides neither food nor habitat for fish. As the milfoil continues to spread native flora and fauna become reduced or disappear. As responsible stewards of this precious resource, we must prevent this.
Beyond milfoil, water quality is improving (lakeiroquois.org/water/lake-data-maps). Due to the work of LIA volunteers, there is a highly significant decrease in phosphorus levels and reductions in sediment loading. Work on the milfoil also continues. In March, we submitted a permit application to the VT DEC to use a low dose of ProcellaCOR in a small area (lakeiroquois.org/invasives/milfoil-control-efforts). As of this date, the permit remains under review. Normally, we would also conduct Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting. However, due to COVID, boat crews are unable to work this summer. Our greeter program continues along with outreach efforts regarding best practices for reduction of milfoil spread and prevention of other invasives entering the lake.
The milfoil infestation remains a serious problem. It is a real threat to the lake ecosystem; one that would be folly to ignore. Invasive species do not “balance out.” They are opportunistic and will spread until they overwhelm an ecosystem. Suggesting that milfoil has magically stopped spreading or disappeared will not solve the problem, nor mitigate against long-term damage. Only sustained, evidence-based work will ensure the health of Lake Iroquois.
Lake Iroquois is healthy in many respects. Yet, we cannot become complacent and pretend that all is well when we can see that below the surface this noxious invasive lurks, continuing to spread and endangering our beautiful lake.
President, Lake Iroquois Association