Scout Program Dramatically Reduces Invasives in Schroon Lake

Three years ago Gretchen Marcell took over the reins of the scout program from Vince Blando who had created it. Gretchen has so well nurtured the program that it is fast becoming a model for the State and neighbor lakes. She has done a wonderful job, has brought positive attention to ESSLA and deserves our gratitude for a hard, thankless job very well done.

The ESSLA Scout Program got off to a late start this year due to high water remaining well into July. Visibility was reduced by the extra depth and sediment caused by the turbulence making scouting impossible. So AIM performed its first two hand harvests in the weeks of June 1st and July 6th without benefit of help from the scouts.

The 2012 contract written by Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District (WCSWCD) between the Town of Horicon and AIM ends this year although a one year extension has been proposed. Everyone is elated with the positive impact the scout program and hand harvesting has had on curbing and reducing the growth of the Eurasian Water Milfoil (EWM) population in the Lake. Beginning in 2013, the amount of EWM removed totaled 2,178 pounds. In 2014 it was 869 pounds and in 2015 it totaled 712 pounds . That is a 67% reduction over three years. AIM states that we have reached what is called a ”management level”.

The theme of NYSFOLA ‘s (New York State Federation of Lake Associations) annual May meeting this year was Citizen Scientists. Gretchen and ESSLA were recognized for our Scout Program, which epitomizes the idea that citizens, property owners and lake front dwellers are best situated to detect any changes or problems in their areas. With reduced funding and staffing in government agencies, we citizens need to volunteer to be the eyes and ears and hands on the front lines, turning to government resources for support and expertise only when needed. The NYSFOLA recognition allowed Gretchen to present the organization and logistics of our Scout Program to all the participants from all over the State. From the questions and response to her presentation, it would appear that ESSLA’s voluntary program is the only one of its kind in the state.

After a major invasive plant discovery last summer, our close neighbor and partner, Brant Lake Association, invited Gretchen to meet. She prepared an organizational chart of the ESSLA Scout Program and presented it to a group of concerned Brant Lake citizens who are adopting her recommendations.

Our Scout Program surveys the entire 36 mile shoreline of the Schroon Lake and River for EWM. This function is critical, must be continued and is now executed by a relatively small group of 41 volunteers. Especially if you are a shoreline owner, ESSLA needs help! The more eyes we have looking the greater the detection rate of EWM will be and the best chance we have of keeping the invasive population low and under control. Click here to view the ESSLA Scout video training program.

Please contact Gretchen at esslahotline@hotmail.com and volunteer. You can join the main Scout force or you can simply survey your own waterfront once or twice a year and provide a valuable backup to the Scout program. Remember, early detection is critical to keeping the plant from spreading and recolonizing the lake. We will arrange to school you on identifying the plant and how to communicate your findings. Please consider this call for help seriously. It is relatively simple to do and is HUGE to the health of OUR Lake. We plan to continue with the hand harvesting subcontract effort in 2016 and the future, but need your help in identification or just a positive report that your beachfront has been looked at and it is clean.
The next battle will be against complacency; control of invasive species in Schroon Lake can only be maintained with the continued voluntary vigilance of concerned citizens like you. ~Gretchen Marcell, ESSLA Board of Directors/Scout Program

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