Letter, Opinion

Bomoseen herbicide application still in works

Dear Editor,

The battle over proposed herbicide use in Lake Bomoseen has not ended, despite what some community members may assume. The LBA / LBPT ProcellaCOR permit application was not withdrawn. It is simply on “technical hold” while the boards of directors of those organizations belatedly try to rally support for their plan. They have yet to engage in conversations with the local community. It appears they have no intention of doing so. Lake Bomoseen Association board meetings remain closed to the public and the general membership, to whom they feel they have no obligation to provide agendas or meeting minutes.

When association or community members express concern over the lack of data on the long term effects of ProcellaCOR, their concerns are met with accusations of spreading misinformation. There is a refusal to acknowledge that opponents of ProcellaCOR use in Bomoseen have read the same product labels, safety manuals, and scientific reports as those pushing for its use.

A year after deciding to file an herbicide use permit application, the boards appear to have realized it would have been good practice to first gather some input from stakeholders. The permit application was filed and revised last January/February. Just recently (due Oct. 24) the Lake Bomoseen Preservation Trust (LBPT) sent out a survey to lake property owners and others with deeded dock rights. Why now and not before filing a permit application? Why ask just property owners, many of whom are residents of other states? Why not seek input from all Lake Bomoseen users? And why have the LBA and LBPT chosen such a narrow focus on “milfoil management” as opposed to the multiple indicators of lake health?

There appears to be no concern over shoreline degradation; the filling in of a bay that once filtered road run-off, the blasting of previously undisturbed rocky prominences, and the clear cutting of building lots right down to the water’s edge. There has been no mention of the approximately 200 antiquated septic systems on the lake that will likely not be upgraded until they fail completely or the properties are sold. And what about water quality monitoring? Is anyone still collecting data on phosphorous levels, water clarity, and chlorophyll levels; all of which are equally important indicators of lake health as the presence or absence of non-native plants?

Fortunately, according to previously submitted Vermont Lakes Scorecard data, Lake Bomoseen is doing pretty well in all three categories; as well, or better, than neighboring lakes that have long histories of herbicide treatment. The Dept. of Fish and Wildlife has indicated that the amount of milfoil on Bomoseen has remained remarkably stable. In addition, the 2017 South Lake Champlain Tactical Basin Plan noted that Bomoseen ranked in the top 5% of Vermont lakes for biodiversity.

Rather than continuing to ignore widespread community opposition, the LBA and LBPT boards might consider calling a halt to the botched herbicide permit application process and work instead on open communication and consensus building. There is tremendous support locally and statewide for the Invasive Patroller / Greeter Program. There has been little objection to non-chemical weed management; mechanical harvesting, diver assisted suction harvesting, or use of benthic barriers.

There is so much more the Lake Bomoseen Association could do to promote lake health; offer training for lay water quality monitoring, host Septic Socials to educate on system maintenance and upgrades, provide workshops on lake friendly yard care and other Lake Wise best management practices. I implore the LBA and LBPT Boards of Directors to stop trying to force their ProcellaCOR permit application through the Dept. of Environmental Conservation process. Pull the permit application. Join with other stakeholders in taking a broader look at the health of Lake Bomoseen and work collaboratively on developing plans to protect and preserve our precious lake.

Lynn Kelley Gee,

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