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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 20, 2009

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES: ARMY CORPS, AT HIS URGING, WILL SEND EXPERT TO ASSESS INVASIVE WEEDS INFESTATION IN BLACK LAKE AND DEVELOP PLAN OF ATTACK


Schumer Called on Army Corps to Examine Dangerous Spreading-Weed Phenomenon Threatening St. Lawrence County's Local Economy

Army Corps Confirmed They Will Send Experts to Lake and Provide Recommendations for Local, State and Federal Officials to Fight the Spread of Weeds

Schumer: This is a Critical Step in the Fight Against the Milfoil at Black Lake

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that, at his urging, the United States Army Corps of Engineers will be visiting St. Lawrence County’s Black Lake this August to investigate firsthand the damage caused by the rapid spread of the Eurasian Milfoil and to develop a plan of attack to eliminate the problem. After urging the Army Corps to visit the lake last year, Schumer received a commitment for the project from the Army Corps and, after renewed pressure, has obtained a confirmation that a thorough examination will take place next month.  Schumer is also working to secure $100,000 for the Army Corps’ efforts to clean the lake. The funding has been included in a key spending bill that passed out of the appropriations committee and is awaiting a full vote on the Senate floor. 

The invasive weeds, known as Eurasian Milfoil, have been taking over the lake and wreaking havoc for local boaters, residents, and tourists who can no longer navigate the lake without encountering the weeds. Schumer had previously warned that unless the Army Corps took action, the region’s tourism industry could take a financial hit and the quality of life for lakeside residents could have been affected.

“This is very good news for St. Lawrence County and the entire area,” Schumer said. “It is tremendous that the Army Corps has committed to investigate the invasive weeds in Black Lake that have been so devastating to boaters, homeowners and our tourism industry across St. Lawrence County. It is important that we act now to protect fishing and boating in our lakes and rivers and by sending an expert to assess the situation, the Army Corps is taking a critical step in eliminating these invasive weeds and keeping Black Lake healthy and weed-free."

The rise of the Milfoil, which worsens each year, has led to concerns over human and aquatic health, noxious odors, unsightly tangles of weeds on shore, and clogged un-navigable waterways for recreational boaters. This invasive species of plant has placed an enormous hardship on local governments, causing homeowners to worry about property values as the Milfoil has become unsightly and emit a foul odor.

To ensure that the threat of the invasive species was effectively addressed, Senator Schumer sent a personal letter last year to Lieutenant General Robert Van Antwerp of the Army Corps of Engineers asking him to step in and assist state, local, and community efforts to eradicate the weeds. Steven L. Stockton, Director of Civil Works, responded and confirmed that the U.S. Army Corps would work with research experts in their Aquatic Plant Control Program at the Corps Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC) to evaluate the situation.

Today, Senator Schumer announced that the Army Corps has confirmed that they will send an expert to Black Lake in August to make an assessment of the problem, evaluate additional contributing factors, and recommend treatment methods. Once an assessment is made, representatives of the ERDC and the Buffalo District Navigation and Regulatory Branches will determine what additional actions will be needed to combat the problem. The visit is scheduled for August 13th.

Schumer added, "By working with state and local officials, we will be able to take action and nip this problem in the bud. Black Lake is one of the most scenic of lakes in New York State, and it is at the heart of St. Lawrence-North Country quality of life and economy bringing in millions of dollars in tourism revenue for the area. We must do everything in our power to preserve its beauty and vitality."

Invasive species are non-native plants, animals, insects or other organisms that can cause harm to the environment, farm land, crops, bodies of water, and even human health. Invasive species are a form of biological pollution and are recognized as one of the leading threats to biodiversity in Upstate New York. Invasive species attack all aspects of Upstate New York's agricultural and environmental sectors and have been around since the beginning of international commerce.

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