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Weeding the lake

Former ESF professor Robert Werner chairs aquatic invasive species committee in Skaneateles. He said the spread of invasive species is because of international trade through the great lakes. Specifically large ships dumping their balast in the St. Lawrence rather than in the ocean. Eurasian milfoil is the big problem right now. It comes in on boats picking it up from other local bodies of water.

Werner told the town board that the AISC raised $25,200 toward an effort to eradicate milfoil on Skaneateles Lake. The town received a project grant from the county department of health for $5,200 toward fuel and labor costs needed between July 15 to Sept. 30. Town budget officer Bridget Winkleman applied for an addendum so equipment needed for the project could also be considered in the grant. She reported that the county approved.

Five years ago there were 39 documented milfoil sites, research just completed shows 111 sites.

The committee has hired John Menapace of Skaneateles Boat Works in Mottville to configure a barge to use to essentially weed the milfoil and also vacuum it from the lake bottom. An old party barge was purchased from Otisco Lake Marina for $950.

Menapace is reconfiguring with equipment from Keene engineering. This equipment was originally engineered for dredging in the gold mining industry.

"You have to dig out the milfoil," Menapace said, "you can't just pull it, as it spreads easily when torn or ripped."

A diver will have to do the job by hand. They will use compressed air with hoses and a regulator attached to the modified barge that will then be used to vacumn and store all organic material until it can be removed to shore.

The committee is gearing up for a study program this year.

They will study and make modifications to swing into full operation next spring.

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