To the Editor:
Howard Hammonds questions the science surrounding the negative impacts of invasive species, Eurasian Watermilfoil for one, but he presents only anecdotes, not science to support his position. Here is my anecdote.
I live on Augur Lake. Eighty-four percent of the houses were under $100K assessed value in 2011. There are no “million dollar homes” Beginning in the late 1970's, Eurasian Milfoil choked as much as one third of the lake’s surface with dense mats of plant material, about 125 acres. In some places entire bays were choked.
No one gave a hoot about bass. One could not get a boat out from the dock. The milfoil would foul propellers, stalling the engines. Children could not swim in the milfoil around docks. Eventually, the lake association purchased a weed cutter. People mowed the lake to get their boats out to milfoil-free water or to have an area to swim. Some owners purchased personal use weed cutters. Residents spent the summer season mowing the lake as much as recreating on or in it. Cottage rental declined.
During the worst of the problem property owners, I among them, applied for and received reduced property assessments. All it took was a picture of the surface milfoil mat around my dock. Other property owners in the county had to make up the difference in tax revenue because the Augur properties had lost value due to the invasive milfoil. That’s an economic loss, all around.
I estimate that, collectively, the property owners have spent over $100,000 in an attempt to restore the surface of Augur Lake to a reasonable state for boating, swimming and fishing. In 2010 the owners voted to establish a special plant control district, a tax district, to deal with the invasive milfoil. For sure, more taxes are a negative impact of an invasive species.
It pains me to think Augur Lake’s milfoil problems may have been the result of some catch-addict bass fisherman who put milfoil in Augur Lake just so he could pull out a bass a minute. To help those of us who suffer from boater imported invasive species, I would suggest that a $10 Invasive Species fee be added to each pro fishermen’s tournament entrance fee in NY waters. With entrance fees in the thousands of dollars, $10 won’t be noticed. Send that money to the Town of Chesterfield: Aquatic Nuisance Plant District, 1 Vine St. Keeseville, NY 12944.
Of course Hammonds’ entire premise is that the only purpose of a lake is to raise bass, a “False premise, and the only reason to fish is to catch bass: truly an addict’s delusion.
Years ago an Augur resident trolled by my dock. He was out nearly every evening. One evening as he passed by I asked him if he had caught anything.
He said: "No, But it doesn’t matter.” A true fisherman, out enjoying the most beautiful place in the world. Well it would be if there were no milfoil mats.
Gordon Howard, Keeseville