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Past Project: Invasive Species in Adirondack Lakes

Invasive species threaten the natural ecosystems of the Adirondacks.


We are dedicated to attacking invasive species and preserving native habitat.

What Has AdkAction.org Done?

In early December 2009 a group of concerned citizens and representatives of the Adirondack Council and the Paul Smith's Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) jointly made calls on three Adirondack congressional and both state senatorial delegations. A proposal was presented that would bring Eurasian Water Milfoil under control in the 43 lakes currently known to be infested within seven years at a cumulative cost of $35 million. Federal appropriation for these funds was sought to be administered through the Fish & Wildlife department and implemented by the AWI. Congressman Bill Owens secured the first $500,000 at committee level, enough for AWI to do the initial mapping, but the funding bill (and all so-called earmarks) was defeated in congress. AdkAction.org help to press for federal funding of a milfoil initiative.



INVASIVE MILFOIL

Eurasian and/or Variable-leaf water milfoil is currently found in Upper, Middle, and Lower Saranac Lakes, Fish Creek Ponds, Floodwood Pond, Copperas Pond, Follensby Clear Pond, Lake Flower, the Saranac River, Lake Kiwassa, Oseetah Lake, Meacham Lake, Lake Placid, Long Lake, and Lake Colby, along with others throughout the region.

These non-native, invasive plants overwhelm native plants, eventually forming a thick surface mat that suffocates a lake, affects food web structure, promotes algal growth, and can even decrease property values. Swimming, boating, fishing, and all other water sports can fall victim.

Once in a lake, invasive water milfoil can never be fully eradicated, and control is costly. 

There are two main types of water milfoil, described in detail below. 

Both Eurasian and Variable-leaf:

  • Are submerged plants that grow horizontally when they reach the surface, creating a mat
  • Start growing in early spring
  • Appear brighter and larger than other aquatic plants
  • Are smaller and submerged in lakes where water milfoil is harvested; in un-harvested areas, plants will be larger and multi-stemmed

Eurasian Water Milfoil


Eurasian water milfoil has:

  • A stem color ranging from pale pink to reddish brown to whitish green
  • Feathery leaves, with more than 9 "feathers," or "leaflets," on each leaf
  • Tiny pink flowers that may occur on an emergent spike during late summer
  • Red growing tips
  • Leaves with ends that appear to have been snipped
  • Three to five leaves (typically four) whorled around the stem
  • Leaves that go limp around the stem when out of water


Variable-Leaf Water Milfoil 


Variable-leaf water milfoil has:

  • A "raccoon-tail" or bottlebrush appearance
  • Delicate green underwater leaves that are feather-like and average 1/2 to 2 inches across
  • Four to six leaves around whorled around the stem Leaves with 5-14 leafletsThick flowering spikes that stick out of the water as much as 6 inches (twice as high as native water milfoil)


Invasive water milfoil forms thick underwater stands of tangled stems and vast mats at the surface, making boating, swimming, and fishing difficult or impossible. Plants spread by small fragments that "hitchhike" on watercraft and are then introduced to new waters. Once a water body is infested, controlling these aggressive invaders is very difficult and expensive.

Preventing the spread of invasive water milfoil in Adirondack lakes is a high priority.Please avoid boating through weed-infested areas, as your wake and propeller action can increase fragmentation and therefore spread the water milfoil. Try to keep wake action near shallow areas to a minimum. Collect floating water milfoil and discard it on land. Avoid areas with diver-down flags—there are divers underwater harvesting water milfoil when these flags are up. Do not use a motor in waters such as Little Colby, where the entire pond is infested with large stands of Eurasian water milfoil plants that can be easily fragmented.Inspect your boat and remove clinging plants before moving between or leaving lakes.Tell your friends about how to prevent the spread of water milfoil and pass on this brochure.

Please avoid boating through weed-infested areas, as your wake and propeller action can increase fragmentation and therefore spread the water milfoil. Try to keep wake action near shallow areas to a minimum. Collect floating water milfoil and discard it on land. Avoid areas with diver-down flags—there are divers underwater harvesting water milfoil when these flags are up. Do not use a motor in waters such as Little Colby, where the entire pond is infested with large stands of Eurasian water milfoil plants that can be easily fragmented.Inspect your boat and remove clinging plants before moving between or leaving lakes.Tell your friends about how to prevent the spread of water milfoil and pass on this brochure.

If you forget to inspect and clean your gear before you leave, you can infect other lakes when you re-launch. Waters such as Rollins Pond, Hoel Pond, Buck Pond, Lake Kushaqua, Barnum Pond, Mountain Pond, Upper and Lower St. Regis Lakes, Spitfire Lake, Osgood Pond, St. Regis Canoe Area and many others ARE NOT yet reported to have aquatic invasive plants. 

Water milfoil clings to wheel housings of trailers, wraps around propellers, sticks between trailer pads and attaches to your boat and on other recreational gear. Once introduced to a body of water, it is highly adaptive and aggressive. 

Warning: You Could Spread this Plague

Invasive water milfoil forms thick underwater stands of tangled stems and vast mats at the surface, making boating, swimming, and fishing difficult or impossible. Plants spread by small fragments that "hitchhike" on watercraft and are then introduced to new waters. Once a water body is infested, controlling these aggressive invaders is very difficult and expensive.

Preventing the spread of invasive water milfoil in Adirondack lakes is a high priority.

Please avoid boating through weed-infested areas, as your wake and propeller action can increase fragmentation and therefore spread the water milfoil. Try to keep wake action near shallow areas to a minimum. Collect floating water milfoil and discard it on land. Avoid areas with diver-down flags—there are divers underwater harvesting water milfoil when these flags are up. Do not use a motor in waters such as Little Colby, where the entire pond is infested with large stands of Eurasian water milfoil plants that can be easily fragmented.Inspect your boat and remove clinging plants before moving between or leaving lakes.Tell your friends about how to prevent the spread of water milfoil and pass on this brochure.

If you forget to inspect and clean your gear before you leave, you can infect other lakes when you re-launch. Waters such as Rollins Pond, Hoel Pond, Buck Pond, Lake Kushaqua, Barnum Pond, Mountain Pond, Upper and Lower St. Regis Lakes, Spitfire Lake, Osgood Pond, St. Regis Canoe Area and many others ARE NOT yet reported to have aquatic invasive plants. 

Water milfoil clings to wheel housings of trailers, wraps around propellers, sticks between trailer pads and attaches to your boat and on other recreational gear. Once introduced to a body of water, it is highly adaptive and aggressive. 

So, before you launch and as you leave: 

  • INSPECT boat, trailer, tackle, downriggers, anchors, centerboards, rudders, rollers, axles, etc. carefully before entering any other body of water.
  • REMOVE mud, plants and plant fragments from all surfaces and cavities and discard them on dry land away from the water. Don't transport plants, even if only to your home.
  • DRAIN live wells, bilge, transom, and motor away from the water before entering and when leaving any body of water.
  • EMPTY bait buckets in the trash away from the water. Never release live bait into the water or transport animals or plants from one body of water to another.
  • WASH boat and equipment with high pressure water (preferably hot water of 140F+) and flush through the motor's cooling system OR leave the boat and equipment out of the water to dry for several days; drying times vary depending on the weather and the type of material, but at least five days of drying time is generally recommended during the summer as plant fragments can live for days out of the water.

For more information:


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AdkAction.org creates projects that address unmet needs, promote vibrant communities, and preserve the character of the Adirondacks.

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PO Box 655   |   Saranac Lake, NY 12983

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