LG Park Commission’s Wick defends milfoil herbicide; calls LGA ‘inaccurate’

By Zander Frost, Chronicle Staff Writer

The Lake George Association is “coming out with inaccurate and some might describe it as blatant misinformation in an attempt to cause concern and alarm” about the Lake George Park Commission’s decision to approve use of the herbicide ProcellaCOR EC against the invasive milfoil at two locations on Lake George.

That’s what Dave Wick, executive director of the LGPC, tells The Chronicle.

He adamantly defends the plan to use the herbicide, which the Park Commission approved 6-2 and which also has Adirondack Park Agency and Department of Environmental Conservation approval.

He said of the LGA, “There’s different media articles that have picked up largely their talking points, which just are not based in the reality of what the product has gone through for scientific and regulatory review.”

His criticism includes coverage in last week’s Chronicle, which had “quite a bit of deference given to the LGA’s concerns, which are entirely unfounded in fact.”

Last week, The Chronicle printed a list of concerns the LGA said it wanted studied. Mr. Wick responded point by point.

The LGA cited “possible negative impacts to human health.”

Mr. Wick asked, “Have they identified what those health impacts are? Because there aren’t any. There has been no identified health impacts that have been identified with any science the Park Commission has seen.”

Mr. Wick said Jeanine Broughel, “the Product Registration Chief for DEC” told the LGPC that if there were concerns for human health, the product would not have been approved.

Mr. Wick said while ProcellaCOR use started recently, it has been studied for years. “It was developed in 2010. And then spent years being studied and reviewed until everybody signed off on it…was approved in 2018 federally, approved 2019 in New York State.”

The LGA cited “a lack of adequate peer reviewed scientific data regarding potentially adverse impacts to native plants, and organisms that are specific to Lake George.”

Mr. Wick said the reaction of plants, like milfoil, to ProcellaCOR in other states is absolutely relevant to those same plants in Lake George. He said to say otherwise is “such an offensive statement to say about science.” He said, “We know what the plant populations are in Lake George, we have done extensive plant surveys as required by DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency.”

Mr. Wick said the only plant that came up as a concern was native milfoil, but the LGPC found only one plant in the two areas it plans to treat.

Mr. Wick said native milfoil is “ubiquitous throughout Lake George, that’s been documented for years by the Darrin Freshwater Institute…If you treat and you kill that one native milfoil plant, is it going to be jeopardizing anything in the lake? And the answer was no.”

The LGA cited “Concern that intense, rapid and concentrated nutrient loading from herbicide- treated and decomposing milfoil would cause significant algal growth and increase the risk of harmful algal blooms.”

“That’s one of my favorites, because that’s knowingly wrong. And they know that’s wrong,” Mr. Wick said. He said not using ProcellaCOR leads to far more nutrients being released into the lake.

He said one plant in Blair’s Bay grows to eight feet tall and three acres in size and then dies, releasing its nutrients into the water column every year.

He said the Park Commission will treat it with ProcellaCOR, and it will die and not return for at least three years.

“Over three years, you have three acres of eight foot high plants dying year after year after year. Or we can do one treatment, have it die back, let’s say it’s 20% of the height” and not return, Mr. Wick said.

“What do you think is going to release more nutrients into the water?” he said.

The LGA cited “the likely spread of the herbicide miles from the proposed testing sites due to the Lake’s strong currents.”

Mr. Wick said, “I said the other one was my favorite. This is my favorite.” The LGPC said a DEC dilution model “estimates no detection within a very small fraction of the ‘miles’ noted in the LGA statement. This is backed up by dozens of ProcellaCOR treatments and subsequent modeling, including Lake Winnipesaukee, which is a public drinking water supply.”

The LGA cites “concerns about how long the chemical will remain in the Lake, and the fact that it eventually breaks down into chemicals that are as toxic as the parent.”

“Absolutely false and inaccurate,” Mr. Wick said. He said ProcellaCOR breaks down into much less toxic components.

The LGPC said EPA found “the relative toxicity of the transformation products on SAVs: florpyrauxifen-acid was 30x less toxic, benzyl-hydroxy was 1,700x less toxic, hydroxy-acid was 11,400x less toxic.”

Mr. Wick said, “It is a plant growth hormone that I guess you can call toxic. It’s toxic to the plant, but not to human health.”

He also emphasized that the amount of chemical used is small. “The seven parts per billion equates to one drop in a backyard swimming pool. Take an eyedropper and put one drop into it. That is the dosage rate of ProcellaCOR in Lake George.”

“Remember that 97.5% percent of that one drop is inert ingredients. It’s only 2.5% of that drop is active ingredients.”

The LGA cited “the likelihood that the herbicide’s projected effectiveness will be reduced by the Lake’s strong currents since the manufacturer clearly states its product performs best in ‘slow moving/quiescent waters with little or no continuous outflow…’”

Mr. Wick said any aquatic herbicide in New York State requires a dilution model.

“We had to go out and do all the underwater topography and figure out the volume. And then the way the applicator has to judge the dosage is based on the volume of water.

“They say, okay, based on this area, it’s going to be two foot deep here, it’s going to be 20 feet deep here, follow this exact, very specific protocol. And that is DEC’s conservative estimate of where the product may be diluted out to a point of zero.

“It shows nothing, nothing whatsoever, like what the LGA is saying, and the [Adirondack] Council and everybody else now that has hopped on the bandwagon. It doesn’t reflect reality by any stretch whatsoever.”

Mr. Wick said ProcellaCOR use on Glen Lake, Saratoga Lake and Minerva Lake confirm “that the state’s dilution modeling is representative and accurate because outside of those zones, they can find 0.0 parts per billion of that product.”

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