Fund Supports Upper Saranac Lake Foundation Efforts

A dive team hauling Eurasian Watermilfoil from the lake

Divers and donors: Working hard to keep Upper Saranac Lake free of invasive plants.

In an effort to preserve, enhance and protect the natural scenic beauty, environmental quality and recreational enjoyment of the Upper Saranac Lake region, the Upper Saranac Lake Foundation was formed in 1989. Water quality, increased development, septic systems and invasive plants all became of greater consequence to a concerned Lake community. As the issues emerged and became better defined, it was clear that in order to affect meaningful change, it would be necessary to have a vehicle to raise significant funds.

In 2001, Lake residents noticed that Upper Saranac Lake was significantly infested with Eurasian Watermilfoil, (an aquatic invasive plant that aggressively out-competes native vegetation, spreads quickly and forms dense surface mats that interfere with swimming, fishing and boating, as well as degrades water quality). The Upper Saranac Lake Foundation (USLF), with the full support and cooperation of the Upper Saranac Lake Association (USLA, a homeowners association begun in 1901 with over 500 members), consulted numerous experts and institutions to determine the best method to control the Milfoil in the Lake.

USLF determined the best method involved manually controlling Milfoil through an intensive hand-harvesting program by a SCUBA dive team. The program that was developed and, successfully executed, reduced the Milfoil to manageable levels. Three years of intensive harvesting, beginning in 2004, resulted in a drop from 18½ tons of Milfoil removed to 800 pounds per year.

Since that period, an annual "control" program has been developed and refined, vastly improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the harvesting.

The Upper Saranac Lake Foundation recognizes Milfoil cannot be eradicated, but we have proved it can be controlled. Efforts by USLF to manage the spread of Milfoil are now considered a model for Milfoil control throughout the Northeast.

Since the creation of the Upper Saranac Lake Foundation, the Upper Saranac Lake community has been extremely supportive of the fundraising needs of the Foundation. The Foundation is grateful for the recent support of the ACT for Upper Saranac Lake Milfoil Fund founded by the Upper Saranac Cookbook Committee, and also to Adirondack Foundation for managing and promoting this fund.

Donations to the ACT for Upper Saranac Lake Milfoil Fund at Adirondack Foundation have helped expand the Milfoil harvesting project time, have improved the Lake's native aquatic plant diversity and the Lake's overall health. In addition, the project has increased scientific understanding and public awareness of invasive species issues affecting all lakes and their aquatic habitats within the Adirondack Park.