Lake Currents – March 2012

by Mar 28, 2012Newsletter0 comments

Dear Fellow Groton Lakes Association Members And Friends,

Much water has literally gone over the dam since the Groton Lakes Association last sent you an update on the condition and quality of the lake, the issues surrounding treatment for non-native invasive weeds and the outlook for the future of this water resource.

We plan on sending a number of informational newsletters to you in the coming months to bring old friends up to date and new members and neighbors a picture of where we have been and where we are going. The first few newsletters will be sent by mail, as we do not have a complete up to date list of your email addresses. It is much less expensive to send news to you electronically, so please, following receipt of this newsletter send your current email address to awoodle@verizon.net. If you have moved, but still received this mailing, send us your new address as well.

Last fall we elected a new President of GLA, Art Prest, who summered at the lake most of his life and now resides full-time. Art brings a lot of energy to our association and experience in dealing with the intricacies of government. Here is a video he made introducing himself and showing the condition of the lake, as it was last summer.

Background
During the mid to late 1980s a comprehensive lake-wide management plan was completed for the town of Lost Lake/Knops Pond. A number of management options were put forward and it was decided to use draw down of the lake to freeze out and eliminate non-native weeds. The State of Massachusetts became involved in our plan and established an Order of Conditions under which we would be allowed to conduct this draw down. In 1992, as part of the Order of Conditions, a plant was identified as a possible endangered species in the state of Massachusetts. For many reasons, the draw down solution did not work and was subsequently abandoned for the time being.

Herbicidal Treatment 2002-2004
A new strategy was discussed to reduce and/or eliminate milfoil, the principal invasive weed at that time. The result was swift and the lake became open and useable for recreation. The following years, spot treatments were used to keep the weeds in check, but in 2004, it was noticed that despite precautions some of the herbicide adversely affected the endangered plant. It yellowed and died. This set off alarms with the Groton resident who had first identified the weed and Natural Heritage. An article appeared in the Boston Globe: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2004/07/04/herbicide_suspected_in_plant_loss/

Second Attempt at Draw Down
Following this episode a draft protocol for how to conduct the draw down and protect this plant was compiled by two Groton residents who had been participating in fulfilling the obligations of the Order of Conditions as stated above. It was accepted by the Great Ponds Advisory Committee (GPAC) and submitted to Selectmen before being sent on to Natural Heritage. The state botanist made comments on this draft protocol and returned it to its authors for resubmittal in January 2007. The draw down was subsequently abandoned in 2007 because it was determined the lake’s physical configuration was not suitable for the freezing action needed to rip out the nuisance vegetation. The draft protocol has never been updated or resubmitted to NHESP.

2007-2012 Update
Since 2004 all spot treatments of the herbicide Diquat were ceased; it presented an opportunity for the milfoil to return and for fanwort or Cabomba to become even more of a problem. Cabomba has begun to crowd out the milfoil and is fast becoming the dominant invasive plant choking many shallow areas. The NHESP would not allow further herbicidal treatments without first surveying for surviving samples of the endangered species. The GLA hired a state certified botanist to conduct these surveys.

In 2009 and 2010 he did not find this plant anywhere in the lake. In 2011, the botanist enlisted the help of the former state botanist to help him search and they claimed to have found the endangered plant. The GLA believing that this plant was accidentally eliminated in the 2004 herbicide treatment challenged these findings. In September the botanist together with the current state botanist revisited the lake for a second opinion.

Samples were taken in order to grow them at the state facility and others shipped to an aquatic plant specialist in western MA. The former died and the latter plants were quoted as being “probably Sparganium natans.” No less than four botanists in the state of Massachusetts looked at this species and could not definitively say it was the endangered plant!

The GLA has studied the characteristics of this plant in the aquatic plant literature and communicated and sent pictures and video to academic experts who are familiar with this plant in states where it is not endangered. The consensus is that this is not Sparganium natans.

This summer we hope to either send samples to one of the academic herbariums or have them visit this plant at our lake to identify it. Furthermore in cooperation with NHESP we are going to collect samples of this plant for DNA analyses by DNA specialists.

Why are we taking this approach?
In 2013, we are hoping to once again treat our lake to remove both milfoil and Cabomba. If this endangered weed is proven to be present, it needs to be protected and the measures needed will be more expensive and may threaten the success of our herbicidal treatment.

In addition, we have to prepare a Notice of Intent (NOI) to the Conservation Commission through our consultant Aquatic Control Technology (ACT). A lake wide watershed plan is being created as well. Any future use of our lake will require all of us to take precautions on what chemicals or household products we may apply to our land. We hope to provide some guidance in the form of informational notices tucked in with our electric bills.

The operation of the public boat launch needs to be incorporated into this lake wide plan. Invasive weeds can be easily transported into our lake and out to other lakes on boats, trailers and engines. This would also apply to all of us who put in and take out our boats on our own property. This past summer our consultant found four water chestnut plants, a species that allowed to flourish will take over our lakes very quickly. There are areas of Pepperell Pond on the Nashua River that are covered with water chestnut.
All of these plans will fail if we do not have the support from all of us. This treatment program will be expensive, but doing nothing will see the condition of our lake continue to deteriorate and property values decline. We will be exploring various grant programs to help us secure at least a portion of the cost.
Future newsletters will focus on individual topics such as identifying water chestnut and what to do; the effect of herbicidal treatment on the invasive weeds and water quality; what we can do as good stewards of our own property to help prevent introduction of invasive plant species, etc.

The next meeting of the Groton lakes Association will feature a presentation by the Town of Groton Sewer Committee and a discussion of the impacts of a sewerage system on the residents of Lost Lake. It will be held at 7:00 pm Wednesday April 11, 2012 at Grotonwood’s Gym at the end of Prescott St.

Respectfully submitted to GLA by Alexander Woodle
GLA member and member of Great Ponds Advisory Committee