Morning Sentinel
Herbicide planned for milfoil
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Staff Writer
Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 09/08/2009

AUGUSTA -- State officials are set to begin herbicide treatments in a Belgrade lake cove threatened by an aggressive milfoil.

The state's Department of Environmental Protection last week notified residents in the area of Salmon Lake's Kozy Cove that the one-day chemical treatment has been scheduled for Thursday.

The date could change if there are unfavorable weather conditions, specifically a large rain storm, said John McPhedran of the DEP's Bureau of Land and Water Quality.

The DEP plans to hand-deliver notification to local property owners within 24 hours of the application.

"I anticipate we will be going forward on Sept. 10," McPhedran said.

Eurasian milfoil, a highly aggressive aquatic plant that can form dense mats and congest waterways, was first discovered in Kozy Cove by a summer visitor last August. DEP divers began removing plants from the 6-acre cove within a week of the discovery, but the plant population continues to swell.

Since May, divers have removed 325 plants, more than twice the number removed last year.

Milfoil spreads readily by fragments often transferred via animals, boats or trailers.

The state plans to use the herbicide 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid -- better known as 2,4-D -- to control milfoil in the cove near the Salmon Lake outlet.

The Division of Water Quality Management, another division of the DEP, authorized a permit for the herbicide treatment, and on July 28 approved a notice of intent.

The 30-day appeal period ended last week with no appeal being filed, McPhedran said.

DEP officials hope the herbicide will destroy enough of the milfoil to allow management and prevent spreading through nonchemical means.

"Because the infestation is likely less than three years old, we believe it has no sown seeds, thereby providing an opportunity to meet our objective," McPhedran wrote in a letter to property owners.

Residents at last month's informational meeting raised safety concerns related to 2,4-D, but the DEP believes there are minimal risks to nontargeted plants, animals and people.

"Risks to whole-lake fish populations and other animals are low when exposed to the concentrations we intend to apply," McPhedran said. "2,4-D was chosen for its short contact time and effective control of Eurasian water milfoil, with the least amount of toxicity to humans, fish and other nontarget animal species."

However, the DEP still is warning people from boating, swimming and fishing in the outlet cove for three days beginning with the application date. The state also is warning property owners not to drink or irrigate with surface water taken directly from or within 1,000 feet of the cove, the outlet stream and 500 feet of Hatch Cove on Great Pond until notified.

The DEP said it would continue to test water from the area.

McPhedran believes the treatments will be effective. The milfoil plants need to be growing in order for the herbicide to work.

"The treatment should be effective, despite the fact we're in September," he said.

Craig Crosby -- 623-3811, ext. 433

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