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Dealing with invasive species

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Dealing with invasive species
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The Village of Norwood and Clarkson University are joining up in the fight against milfoil. The invasive species is overtaking New York's bodies of water, but as our Barry Wygel explains, the village and college are fighting back.

NORWOOD, N.Y. -- A few months ago, Clarkson professor Michael Twiss received a concerned call from residents in Norwood. They had gotten a report that milfoil had been found in their lake. Twiss saw an excellent opportunity to help the community, while teaching his students about invasive species.

Twiss said, "So my Limnology class went out to the lake to investigate what could be the problem here, how extensive was the issue."

Their findings were that milfoil was indeed in Norwood Lake and it had the potential to cover 80 percent of the lake, causing long term damage.

"Some of the risks include dropping of property values around the lake, decrease in game fish production, which is big in Norwood," said Jake Madelone.

"The social life of the community will change because these mats make it hard to boat. It gets stuck in the propellers. Property value will go down about 15 percent," Dayton Palen said.

This is an issue being dealt with across the state and the country. There have been a number of ideas of how to combat the milfoil such as mechanical harvesting, but there are negative repercussions.

Madelone said, "The only problem with this is that it is not specifically towards the Eurasian Water Milfoil, it attacks all the plants and the whole point of getting rid of this plant is to make sure the others aren't getting hurt."

Now this isn't a problem that can be 100 percent solved, but by working together and taking simple steps, some of those fun summer activities may be preserved.

"There is not much we can do to get rid of it,” Madelone said. “But controlling the population is about as good as it's going to get. It shouldn't have too harmful of an effect if we can keep it under control."

The most popular idea was to introduce a milfoil weevil, a small aquatic bug that eats the milfoil.

Palen said, "One idea I thought of was since the Norwood Lake isn't overpopulated with the milfoil yet and it does slow down its growth over the winter period, stock the lake with the weevil right after winter and into spring.”

That idea is in its early stages and may be carried out in the coming years. To keep the milfoil from spreading, the students say it's important to clean off the bottom of boats, since that is one of the primary ways the plant travels.

If you would like more information about milfoil or want to know if it is a problem in your area, visit www.adkinvasives.com and www.adkinvasives.com/documents/NYISRIEWMReport_Final_11Nov2011.pdf.

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