Town board looks to begin rentals of lake weed prevention mats

— Cazenovia lakeside residents soon may be able to rent from the town specialty mats designed to contain and kill lake weeds — both invasive and native — on their property in Cazenovia Lake.

The board unanimously approved at its May 13 meeting a resolution to establish a benthic mat rental program for the town, as well as a resolution setting the rules and regulations for the program.

While the mat rentals will not go forward until the town receives a letter of understanding from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, town board members are hopeful that letter may arrive soon and the program begin within a few weeks — although that is not a certainty, said Town Councilor Bill Zupan, who has been spearheading the mat rental program for the town.

“The town board has always been — as long as I have been on it — really sensitive on the health of the lake and this is just one more tool for us to use,” Zupan said. “This hasn’t gotten a green light from the DEC yet, so we might not be doing it until next year.”

Benthic barrier mats cover a portion of the lake bottom and prevent plant growth by blocking the sunlight required for plants to grow. They also provide a physical barrier against the spread of macrophytes, or, more specifically for Cazenovia Lake issues, Eurasian water milfoil.

Milfoil’s dense stands often reach the water’s surface and create floating mats of vegetation that hinder swimming and boating. Once established, there is no known way to completely eradicate the plant from a lake. The best management strategy is to control existing stands and limit spreading to other areas and waterways, according to information from Cornell Cooperative Extension Onondaga County. Benthic barriers are most appropriate for control of Eurasian water milfoil in small, localized areas such as swimming areas, boat launches, around docks and along boat lanes, according to CCE.

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