Milfoil action needed on Lake Flower, Oseetah

Washed-up milfoil is gathered at Bill Martin’s property in Saranac Lake, on the shorre of Lake Flower. (Provided photo — Bill Martin)

Milfoil, an invasive aquatic plant, is growing in abundance in Lake Flower and Oseetah Lake. The milfoil is spreading. Information on milfoil can be found on the New York state invasive species website: http://nyis.info/invasive_species/eurasian-watermilfoil. The following is a quote from their information:

“The negative impacts on wildlife and fish populations in waterbodies with high densities of Eurasian watermilfoil and the difficulty of motorboating and swimming in infested areas result in recreation-oriented financial losses and the depreciation of shoreline property values (accompanied by a loss of real estate taxes to local economies).”

The outcome for Lake Flower and Oseetah Lake is predictable. Milfoil thrives in water less than 10 to 12 feet deep. The average depth of Lake Flower and Oseetah Lake is around 5 feet. Uncontested, the milfoil will soon collect on the shores in large masses, where we will smell it as it rots. Navigation will become difficult. If we act now, we can begin to attempt to reverse the trend.

Both Eurasian milfoil and variable leaf milfoil can be found in Lake Flower and Oseetah Lake. These invasive plants prevent native water plants from being able to grow. They reduce fish spawning areas, which in turn lowers fish numbers. If left to propagate unchecked, in time the native waterfowl, loons, mergansers, mallards, great blue herons and eagles will avoid looking for food in these lakes. It will become too difficult to motorboat because of clogged propellers. As the density of milfoil growth increases, fishing lines will become entangled, and swimming and paddling will become challenging. Shoreline property values will depreciate. A walk out onto the docks located near the tennis courts on Lake Flower Avenue tells the story. It is a carpet of milfoil.

Upper Saranac Lake, Kiwassa Lake, Lower Saranac Lake, Lake Clear, Lake Colby, Lake Placid and now Moody Pond have recognized the threat and are taking action to change the future. The Upper Saranac Lake Association and Foundation have had great success in eradicating milfoil in their lake. Lake Flower and Oseetah Lake are “spread hubs” for the invasive plants. The plant spreads from lake to lake hitchhiking on boats as they are taken out of one lake and put into another. In the case of Kiwassa Lake, just motoring from Oseetah to Kiwassa spreads the plant. The plant flows downstream, finding places to root also. The Adirondack Watershed Institute of Paul Smith’s College is doing its best to provide stewards at boat launches to make sure the boats are cleaned before and after their time on the lake.

If we start the process to clean the milfoil out of Lake Flower and Oseetah Lake, we may be able to slow the spread over time. We are fortunate to live in an area rich with many beautiful lakes and ponds. Visitors travel here from all over to enjoy our waterways. Lake Flower is the first thing people see as they enter our village. It is the first impression people get of Saranac Lake. We have a window of opportunity to act, to start the process to remove the milfoil and slow the spread. This will require the help of everyone interested in saving our lakes from this invasive plant. We are forming a Lake Flower and Oseetah Lake Association, starting with a few concerned property owners. We need the majority of property owners to be “on board.” We need help from everyone who enjoys these beautiful bodies of water. One of the first steps is to enlist the services of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program to do an official survey of the situation in the two lakes. Once that is complete, we will secure a permit to begin the cleanup. When the time comes to sign your name in favor of the cleanup, please show your support. Let’s change the future of Lake Flower and Oseetah Lake.

Questions or Interest in joining an association to combat milfoil in Lake Flower and Oseetah Lake, please email or call at wneilmartin@gmail.com or 518-354-0569.

Bill Martin lives on Lake Flower in Saranac Lake.


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