A perfect storm: Weeds choke Hoosac Lake's boat launch


CHESHIRE — A massive weed tangle is clogging the boat launch at Hoosac Lake and making it difficult if not impossible for boaters to put in and take out.

The company that manages the lake's weeds hopes to start clearing the congestion as early as Thursday or Friday. The boat launch is located in the northern part of the lake, which is formally known as the Cheshire Reservoir, along Route 8.

SOLitude Lake Management of Shrewsbury will use a mechanical harvester to collect the weeds, according to Michael Lennon, the company's territory leader and senior biologist.

"There's quite a bit of it there and it is a sizeable amount," Lennon said. "We will mobilize as quickly as we can."

Hoosac Lake Recreation Preservation District Chairman Ray Fisher said the situation is the result of a recent weed treatment and a perfect storm of circumstances: A mild winter, lengthy spring, and hot, dry summer meant early and rapid growth of the Vallisnaria americana weed, also known as "eelgrass" or "tape grass."

"By March 10, all the ice was gone from the top of the lake," Fisher said. "That usually happens later on. The weed growth was early and fast. We had a first weed treatment for the lake on May 1."

Lennon agreed.

"What happened this year was the longevity of spring the mild winter and this dry season," he said. "These are exacerbating conditions for an already impaired system."

This year, with the accelerated growth, weeds were already "sloughing off," or releasing from the bottom 30 to 45 days sooner than usual, and floating to the surface.

A weed treatment on July 21 probably came a little too late to tackle the growth and a third treatment on Aug. 4 led to a massive release of the weeds grip on the lake bottom, according to Fisher. The lake's current runs from south to north and winds also have pushed the weeds to collect at the boat launch area.

SOLitude Lake Management couldn't come sooner than July 21 to treat the lake.

As a result, the company won't be charging for the cleanup, Lennon said. The lake is owned by the state.

"Hopefully, this is an anomaly," Lennon said. "Timing was not in our favor this year. This is an unfortunate situation. As far as I am concerned, we have a worst-case scenario. The lake is not predictable and a lot of lakes are experiencing overgrowth this year."

Weeds have been a problem at the waterway for years. The lake, man-made, was created in 1869.

Editor's note: This article was updated on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, to correct that the lake is owned by the state, not the town.


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