Below are some items of interest on what your organization has been up to this summer. For more information, I suggest attending the open LOPA directors meeting, mentioned near the end of this newsletter.
Good news so far on the weed front! You may recall that last year 260 acres of Onota Lake were treated with ProcellaCOR — a new systemic herbicide targeting Eurasian watermilfoil with less damage to the native aquatic plant population. The results so far are impressive. A survey by Solitude Lake Management in May found no milfoil at all, and a hearty regrowth of beneficial native plants, especially Naiad and Elodea, which create beneficial habitat for fish. A mid-July informal survey by LOPA volunteers found only a few isolated strands of milfoil here and there around the lake. LOPA is contracting for a professional aquatic vegetation survey at the end of the month, which will present a more complete picture of the Onota Lake’s aquatic plant population. The findings will be posted at our website, also mentioned below.
Not surprisingly, invasive Curly Leaf Pondweed staged a comeback in several patches you may have noticed around the lake in June and early July. This weed is much less of a nuisance than Eurasian milfoil. It is one of the first aquatic plants to emerge in the spring and typically dies back in July. LOPA is advising the City to consider a contact herbicide treatment very early next spring when curly-leaf can be targeted with minimal collateral damage to native plants. Hopefully, controlling the curly leaf before it spreads further will promote the continued rehabilitation of the native plant population – a high priority for LOPA.
Asian Clam update
Mixed news on the mollusk front. Following the initial discovery of Asian clams at Onota Lake last summer, a professional survey assisted by LOPA volunteers was conducted in June to study the extent of the invasion. Asian clams were found in eight of the ten sampled locations around the lake – both live clams and spent shells in significant numbers. Some common native clams and mussels also were found in smaller numbers here and there. And one exotic “Chinese mystery snail” turned up. The good news: no Zebra mussels! Those are the nasty critters we really do want to keep out of the lake. More on plans for keeping out Zebra mussels below.
Zebra Mussel prevention
Preventing Zebra mussels from entering Onota Lake is a renewed priority for LOPA and the City of Pittsfield. Education and outreach are at the forefront. Local lake presidents Lee Hauge, Ken Kelly, and Mike Riordan, together with City official Jim McGrath, wrote a Berkshire Eagle letter-to-the-editor sounding the alarm about aquatic invasive species and urging boaters to remain vigilant. The City improved the signage at Burbank Park, and Mass DCR increased its funding for boat ramp stewards who provide information and assist boaters to comply with clean boat regulations. DCR also offered to provide iPad tablets that will enable the stewards to collect basic data on lake usage, but that part of the initiative seems snagged in red tape for now.
On a related front, LOPA is developing a feasibility study for a boat wash station at Burbank Park in preparation for a proposal to the Parks Commission in August and a joint application with the City for Community Preservation Act funding in the Fall. The proposed boat wash station would deliver hot water temperatures sufficient to kill Zebra mussel veligers. This is a critical safeguard for boats and trailers that recently have visited infested waters.
LOPA website and Facebook page
Check out LOPA’s new and improved website at www.onotalake.com. The upgrade is designed to be easier to navigate and more informative. The website is still a work in progress, and your feedback is welcome. LOPA also is updating its dormant Facebook page as explained here.
Open directors meeting
Current LOPA members are invited to join a LOPA directors meeting via Zoom on August 9 at 6 pm and are requested to email Sarah Dinan (email@example.com) at least 24 hours in advance for an invitation. The agenda will include committee reports on what LOPA has been up to this year.
We had hoped to combine the open directors meeting with a Summer Social at Controy Pavilion, but the rapidly spreading and now dominant Omicron B5 subvariant of COVID-19 defeated that idea. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for 2023!
Be well and stay safe,