RAY BROOK - In what's being called a precedent-setting move, the Adirondack Park Agency approved a project that allows the use of a chemical herbicide in an Adirondack lake for the first time.
With the agency's blessing, the town of Lake Luzerne will be permitted to use up to 1,560 pounds of the herbicide Renovate OTF to combat a widespread infestation of the lakeweed Eurasian Milfoil in the southern part of Lake Luzerne.
Chemical means of combating invasive plants have never been allowed before in waterways within the Adirondack Park.
The significance of this unanimous decision by the Park Agency's Board of Commissioners was not lost on board member Frank Mezzano.
"This could be the equivalent of the first cell tower in the
Adirondacks - In other words, we will be seeing more of it because it's (milfoil) a serious problem," Mezzano said. "And if it's a good solution, that's good for everybody."
For decades, environmentalists have been divided on whether herbicides should be used, with the ones opposing chemicals winning out in debates and court fights.
Adirondack Council executive director Brian Houseal said last week that although the his group isn't totally against the practice of using chemicals to fight invasives, it is keeping a close eye on how carefully the process is being conducted.
"We are concerned that this could be a precedent for the park. Water is one of our most precious resources," Houseal said. "We should be careful about chemicals and be sure that all the conditions are clear in this project so it can be used as a guide in the future."
Houseal said that issues of water quality head up the council's list of concerns and that using chemicals in the park's lakes must be done properly.
The council is also concerned about the potential impact that Renovate OTF could have on non-target plants, especially the vulnerable Freshwater Marigold species.