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Aug. 7, 2020

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Group injects herbicide at Vancouver Lake to kill invasive milfoil

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
8 Photos
Kathy Gillespie of Friends of Vancouver Lake displays a handful of milfoil at Vancouver Lake. The group spearheaded an effort to eradicate the milfoil from the lake.
Kathy Gillespie of Friends of Vancouver Lake displays a handful of milfoil at Vancouver Lake. The group spearheaded an effort to eradicate the milfoil from the lake. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

After years of research and planning, Friends of Vancouver Lake orchestrated an important step toward greater accessibility for the lake this week.

Treatment of an invasive Eurasian water milfoil weed infestation in Vancouver Lake began Tuesday. It is expected to last another day or two.

The infestation can be a nuisance to rowers, and it also gets tangled in boat motors, around hunting dogs who get in the lake and even around swimmers.

According to a Friends of Vancouver Lake press release, Eurasian water milfoil is a “class B noxious weed in Washington, and requires mandatory control.” The milfoil is spread by fragmentation — such as when people pull or rip the milfoil off of things it gets tangled around.

If untreated, the milfoil can alter the ecosystem of the lake and threaten lake users, animals and native species of plants and aquatic life.

Aquatechnex, based in Bellingham with offices along the West Coast, had workers steer boats around the lake Tuesday, injecting the herbicide ProcellaCOR to treat the infestation.

“It’s a great day for Vancouver Lake,” said Larry Cassidy, co-chair for the advocacy group Friends of Vancouver Lake. “This will make the lake free of milfoil for an extended period of time.”

The milfoil was first identified in spring 2018 by lake users, according to the group, which also said in a press release that if the milfoil wasn’t treated, it could overtake the lake by 2021.

Friends of Vancouver Lake formed in late 2018 to develop a response effort to the milfoil. Last year, the group missed its window to treat the infestation, but the milfoil is vigorously growing now, which makes it most vulnerable to systemic treatment.

The herbicide has been approved by the state Department of Ecology and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a reduced-risk herbicide to human or environmental health, Cassidy said. It will not harm people recreating in the lake, he said.

The treatment is expected to cost $150,000 or more, according to the press release. Friends of Vancouver Lake raised money for the project through hundreds of donations from citizens as well as larger donations from the Firstenburg Foundation and the Ed and Dollie Lynch Foundation. Clark County and the Port of Vancouver also chipped in funding.

“This is a real community win,” said Kathy Gillespie, co-chair for Friends of Vancouver Lake. “It felt like somebody had the lake’s back this morning.”

Friends of Vancouver Lake, the state Department of Ecology, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and Clark County Weed Control will continue to monitor the treatment’s effectiveness going forward, Gillespie said.

Future management and treatment will happen through Clark County’s new Integrated Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan. Friends of Vancouver Lake will continue to examine ways to improve the lake and make it more accessible moving forward.

“We want people to think of the lake as a place that not only has value, but as a place they want to experience,” Gillespie said. “We’ll be asking for the community’s support in the future, and we know they will be there again.”

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