Herbicidal Use Defeated In GreenwoodLake
***For Immediate Release***
Greenwood Lake, which crosses the New York/New Jersey border, serves as the water supply for 2.5 million residents of New Jersey as well as an important recreational resource. The lake is plagued with weeds each summer resulting from development and recreational impacts. The question of what to do to eradicate the weeds has itself become a perennial point of controversy.
OEI has always opposed the use of chemicals, such as SONAR, which introduce environmental hazards to the lake while only suppressing milfoil for a year or two before it reappears. Among the health and ecological risks associated with adding pesticides to a lake, herbicides can remain in lake sediments for years and can travel long distances through water, thus having a long lasting impact on the environment and waterways. When persistent chemicals become embedded in sediments and move gradually into the water course, they can become a source for bioaccumulation in animal and plant life and a threat to ecosystem health.
In this regard, we are pleased with a recent decision by the Greenwood Lake Village Board of Trustees to refrain from herbicide use as a treatment for plant over growth. Instead, the Village has opted for a sustainable alternative, hand harvesting. Using a “hydrorake,” weeds will be removed by their roots.
Howard Horowitz, Professor in the Environmental Studies Program at Ramapo College of New Jersey, has been a persistent critic of using herbicides in Greenwood Lake. Horowitz, a geographer and expert in reforestation, previously worked in the pesticide section of EPA. Drawing upon his many years of expertise in the field of forestry and water resources, Horowitz notes that there are other ecologically safe alternatives, as well.
Among the other sustainable alternatives that deserve consideration is introduction of native weevil (Eurychiopis leconti). This, insect can significantly reduce the amount of weeds in an area for a longer period of time than the use of harvesters or herbicides. Native weevil is a very viable option for Greenwood Lake; it has been very successful in the past, so far it has been planted in over 80 lakes. Another option is to use a small crew of trained scuba divers to manually pull weeds out of the lake. This option, which has been very successful in Lake Dunmore, Vermont, can work very well in Greenwood Lake.
A final alternative to pesticides is sterile grass carp which eats a lot of vegetation. The key is they have to be sterile so they don’t multiply and the number of them has to be just right. The state of New Jersey, however, has banned use of grass carp for fear that they might multiply and become a problem.
Kathy Baker Skafidas, OEI’s Executive Director, summarized that “Natural methods to eradicate the lake’s plant life should be tried first, because we have a responsibility to keep our environment healthy and our children and citizens safe.” Orange Environment highly supports the Greenwood Lake Village Board of Trustees decision to not use herbicides, but instead to use sustainable methods to control weed overgrowth and hope they will continue support for sustainable methods.
Orange Environment is a twenty-five year old environmental nonprofit organization located in Orange County, New York. For more information and, or to volunteer please call Orange Environment at 845-294-5852, or visit www.orangeenvironment.org.