Commentary, Opinion

It’s time someone pushed back on aquatic misinformation

By Mary Jo Teetor

Editor’s note: Mary Jo Teetor of Poultney, a longtime member and trustee of the Lake St. Catherine Association, where she is currently the treasurer. She is on the water quality committee and has been a lay monitor on Lake St. Catherine for more than 20 years.

There have been so many letters, opinions and commentaries this year stemming from the hair-on-fire reaction to the Lake Bomoseen Association’s application for aquatic nuisance control, which would include the use of ProcellaCorEC as part of their plan.

It is truly unfortunate that this has taken on a one-sided life of its own in the press from every free paper to statewide news to NPR picking up bits and pieces of the less-than-accurate statements made by the leaders and associates of a “loosely affiliated” group called “Don’t Poison Bomoseen.”

What is interesting and at the same time very disturbing is the lack of material evidence to claims that have been made, and the at times disgusting personal posts and attacks made on individuals that are volunteering their time and efforts to keep the lake clean and useful to all residents and visitors as a popular multi-use recreational area. While some people may refer to any use of the lake with the exception of bass fishing as a social agenda, there is certainly a highly valuable economic and health component that should be considered.

Much of the commentary, editorials, letters and social media postings have been toxic. What has somewhat surprised me and maybe it shouldn’t (my ignorance perhaps) is how anyone can consciously post remarks as fact when they are not. Putting out a paragraph of a report and elaborating on the interpretation without including the whole report, without all of the information does not constitute full disclosure of facts. Or worse, taking information from a document and editing it by adding comments in bold to make it look like part of an official report.
The use of Lake St. Catherine management experience and fisheries as the dramatic apocalypse scenario for all to be alarmed at is unfortunate. If the water is so toxic and fishing so devastated, then why I ask does Lake St. Catherine have more fishing derbies than every other lake in the state besides Champlain?

The wildlife on Lake St. Catherine is robust and on display every day, contrary to alarms these people sound to make it look like dead space.

Specific references to the use of chemical treatments that have been used are seriously mischaracterized by insinuating that there is no oversight, studies, consideration or regulation of the matters of use and affect. This is not only blatantly incorrect — and, again, irresponsible — but in fact, all aspects of lake management are closely studied and reviewed by regulators in the state.

These reviews include open, candid conversations with data in hand and are very helpful in planning and monitoring. Well aware of the pros and cons of various methods, it is important to note that oversight is not lacking on any level and facts are still important. Pesticide treatment is not and never has been the first line of defense in lake management. Many years have been spent developing a multifaceted approach to management. It is far from indiscriminate and desperate. Lake management is not a task to be taken lightly or abruptly but it is necessary for the physical and economic health of the overall environment.
The state agencies have shied away from direct involvement in the implementation of lake management, perhaps due to the overwhelming amount of work and cost. It is left up to the residents with the oversight of the state agencies to plan, fund, receive permission, and implement strategies for the long-term goals of health and environmental wellbeing.

It is irresponsible, lacks credibility, and downright deceptive to act as though they have knowledge when the reality is the commentary has been very light or absent of fact-based information to back up the statements and comments being shared as fact.

These people should not be held in any regard as stewards of any environment, and their tactics of bully play, unfortunately, seem to be the approach that continues to work for a certain segment of our society today. Clearly, facts don’t matter to them or their allies. It does appear that what they have been successful at is harassing neighbors to the point of making it difficult for them to engage in the process of vetting a legitimate application through the channels of fact-finding and responsible public processes of decision-making.

When the offer is made to show the documentation and discuss facts and concerns, it has been met with more defamations and misrepresentations to wallow in.

Life on Facebook and chalking up followers is all entertainment to some, but continued attacks on the people that are voluntarily making an effort, and putting in the hard work to assess real concerns and engage responsibly speaks against the credibility and integrity of those who hide behind the social media machine to be popular and incite scandal.

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