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Lake Iroquois declared weed-free

Swimmers and boaters return after successful invasive treatment

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

For the first time in several summers, there will be no mitigation measures used this season to deal with invasive Eurasian milfoil on Lake Iroquois. 

That is a testament to the effectiveness of last June’s herbicide application, which appears to have all-but eradicated the problem. 

“We had amazing results,” said Chris Conant of the Lake Iroquois Association, which applied to the Vermont Department of Health for a permit to use the herbicide Procellacor.

The public beach on the Williston side of the lake now offers unfettered boating and swimming access. In the recent years, the weed overgrowth and noxious smell deterred many visitors. 

“Some people would get to the beach, pay the fee, then leave because the smell was so bad,” Conant recalled. 

According to Lake Iroquois Recreation District Beach Manager Jim Johnson, season pass and day pass sales for the beach are on the upswing. The milfoil eradication is one factor in that, along with fair weather. 

“The lake looks better and I think that has an effect as people drive by on Oak Hill Road,” he said.

Conant agrees.

“We’ve seen a large increase of paddleboarders, kayakers and canoeers who could not navigate through the weeds in the past five years,” he said. “I’ve had a couple dozen people in boats come up to my dock and thank us for the work we’ve done to clean up the lake and make it more user-friendly.”

The permit application drew staunch opposition from those opposed to chemical measures, but Conant said the Procellacor has had no lingering side-effects. About 20 gallons were used on 40 percent of the lake’s total 247 acres. 

“It’s widely used throughout the country with great success, specifically targeting milfoil,” Conant said. “The health department has signed off on it, and we feel it is a very effective and safe product to use.”

The permit allows for reapplication over the next four seasons if milfoil returns. The district will conduct a plant survey in the fall to determine if milfoil is re-establishing and whether another application of herbicide will be called for next spring. Diver-assisted removal, which has been employed in the past, is another option for the future.

“At this point we are going to sit tight,” Conant said. “We aren’t sure how quickly it will re-establish itself.”

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