SARATOGA LAKE AQUATIC WEED HARVESTING PROGRAM

The aquatic weed harvesting program was initially implemented to combat aquatic invasive species. With SLPIDs success in managing these invasive species to a minimum in the lake, the focus of the harvesting program has shifted to managing native aquatic plant species, which are essential for healthy lake quality.

The ultimate goal of harvesting remains unchanged: Specific pathways for recreational use in the lakes deeper water areas. The weed harvesters are not intended for in-shore private property use or between docks. This is for several important reasons:

  • The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Fisheries Manager, a key authority in our lake’s preservation, has specifically requested that harvesting be minimized. This is to preserve the habitats of our fish and aquatic wildlife, a crucial aspect of our lake’s ecosystem.
  • Not entering shallow water areas with the harvesters preserves refuge areas for aquatic wildlife and limits the risk of endangering wildlife.
  • Operating the harvesters in between docks puts the harvesters at risk for damage and private property at risk for damage.
  • Working near the shore puts the harvester and operator at risk due to submerged pipelines, old dock debris, and the possibility of hitting docks or boats.
  • Harvesting is for boating access to deep water, clearing paths for groups of docks (not individual docks) to deep water areas. Harvesting near docks and closer to shore would be an emergency response to a specific problem only and when the harvesters are in that area. This response would be similar to the fire department doing a pump out when there is a flood.
  • It’s important to note that the areas between docks, boats, and shorelines are the direct responsibility of the landowners.
  • The harvesters stay away from all personal property. This includes locations with moorings, swim floats, and other obstructions with no nearby harvesting
  • The SLPID board expresses that the harvesting programs focus is limited and cannot be for inshore personal use clean-up. Please respect the operators doing their jobs; it is not as easy as it appears.

Whether it is seen as good or bad, aquatic vegetation (lake weed) is a part of lake living. All summer long, the aquatic weed harvesting team is very busy on the lake with two aquatic weed harvesters cutting back the lake weeds. As the summer continues, the increase of warmer weather and sunshine has promoted more weed growth. The aquatic weed harvesters cut up to 15 truckloads or 20-25 tons a day.

The weeds are cut and loaded onto a conveyor belt with minimal fall off. The harvesters cut leaving a band and then returning to pick up any fragments left behind. This is the best strategy that is followed in the state to assure there is minimal spread. The aquatic harvesters have the least impact on fish and other aquatic wildlife in the lake assuring an eco-friendly future. The vegetation is then trucked off to nearby farms and used for compost.

Some property owners like to maintain the weeds on their lake frontage. When clearing weeds on your lake frontage and around your docks, it is advisable that the weeds are removed out of the lake. Not only is this courtesy and respect to your other neighbors – so the weeds do not wash up on their frontage – but, this helps to control weed growth as the weed fragments are responsible for spread.

Piling weeds along the shoreline, on rocks or in a nearby stream or pond also facilitates the growth and is not suggested. The vegetation can be used as fertilizer and compost for garden beds or dried, bagged and brought to a nearby composting station. When boating, please take caution and do not go through weed beds as this is another way of spreading weed growth.