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Daily News Archive
From April 30, 2001

Use of Herbicide Proposed in New York's Lake George

According to The New York Times, the Lake George Park Commission is proposing the first use of an herbicide in the Adirondack lake to fend off Eurasian watermilfoil, a noxious weed that has choked native plants and mired swimmers and boats. Under the proposal, about 175 pounds of the herbicide Sonar, which contains the active ingredient fluridone, would be applied to 36 of the 28,000 acres of Lake George as early as June. The use of Sonar in Lake George, which would be financed with $215,000 in state and private grants and donations, must still be approved by the state's Adirondack Park Agency and the Department of Environmental Conservation.

At a local hearing many residents voiced their concern, pointing out that Sonar would kill rare plants in the lake and pose a health risk to people who swim in the water or drink it. "It's a chemical quick fix," Ted Brothers, 72, a Presbyterian minister who has lived on the shores of Lake George for a decade told The New York Times. "And I don't think it can be done safely."

EPA states that Sonar is one of the less toxic pesticides, and includes it in the same toxicity class as malathion and sumithrin, used to combat the West Nile virus. The New York Times reported that several environmental groups are concerned that the use of Sonar would undermine their efforts to persuade towns in the Adirondacks to refrain from using pesticides. "We're worried that the idea would be expanded to the other 2,800 lakes and ponds and we'll be fighting it over and over," John F. Sheehan, a spokesperson for the Adirondack Council.