December 16, 2018

State to deny herbicide treatment for Iroquois

Observer courtesy photo by Pogo Senior
Milfoil in Lake Iroquois is seen from the air in this 2017 photo.

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

The Lake Iroquois Association will abandon plans to apply herbicide to the lake this summer in an effort to eradicate non-native Eurasian milfoil after the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation announced plans to deny its permit application.

The Town of Williston is a co-applicant on the permit.

DEC staff on Monday offered to let the association and town withdraw the permit rather than proceed with a formal denial. But selectboard and association board members opted Tuesday to allow the permit to proceed to denial, requiring the department to detail its reasoning.

“I want the rationale behind it,” said selectboard member Joy Limoge. “We won’t get that if we pull it.”

Association president Chris Conant said the association remains committed to reversing the spread of milfoil, which interferes with boating and swimming in the lake. Instead of applying the herbicide Sonar as hoped this summer, the association will continue with tactics it has employed in the past, such as diver assisted removal of milfoil, installing barriers to clear boating and swimming lanes and staffing the primary boat put-in with a greeter and boat-washer.

DEC Permit Analyst Misha Cetnar could not be reached for comment. In a December interview, Cetnar said the Lake Iroquois permit generated substantial opposition with residents concerned about Sonar’s potential negative effects on human health.

Association board member Jaime Carroll, who researched several milfoil removal options, acknowledged Tuesday that a residue of the chemical has been linked in lab testing to birth defects.

“They are taking a harder look at Sonar,” Carroll said of the DEC.

The permit application has also spurred the DEC to reconsider its process for aquatic nuisance control permits, Carroll said.

The department issued a draft permit approval last spring, but reversed course after public comments began pouring in.

“There were so many different comments and questions raised they felt it was necessary to look at their regulations,” Conant said. “It’s a huge setback. We’ve spent the last year and half waiting for an answer from the DEC …

“It is not going to stop us,” he continued. “We are committed to taking care of this fine resource … We have a lot of work to do. We look forward to reworking our whole plan.”

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