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Town board looks to begin rentals of lake weed prevention mats

— The intention of the mat rentals is not only to help remove milfoil but also native plants that have been thriving in recent years and choking up the lake as the milfoil population has diminished from years of lake renovation treatments, Zupan said. The town board wants to give lakeside property owners the opportunity to clear lanes from their docks to the middle of the lake, he said.

The benthic mats are most effective when they are placed early in the season, after ice is gone but before plants get established, said Town Councilor Liz Moran, who is also a water resources expert and president of EcoLogic, LLC, Aquatic, Terrestrial and Wetland Consultants.

The mats to be used by the Cazenovia program — obtained from a contractor from Skaneateles who works with the Skaneateles Lake Association — will measure 12.5-by-50 feet each (or 625 square feet). Only two mats per property owner will be allowed per year, at an annual rental cost of $125 per mat, which includes installation, removal, pickup and storage by the town.

Mats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and are limited this year to a total of 60 mats, so there is no guarantee of availability to everyone who wants to rent them, Zupan said.

Installation and removal of the mats will be done by contractors hired by the town, at a cost not to exceed 80 cents per square foot of installation. Installation and removal also will be scheduled on dates and times designated by the town and its contractor.

The town is coordinating its rental program with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, who will give guidance on the program and the mat installations, and will also approve the lake properties who apply for the program. The DEC wants to approve the specific areas for mat installation to prevent the mats from harming certain endangered species in the lake, especially at the north end, said Zupan.

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