New Season Opens with Launch Monitors at Marina

The year-round work of keeping the lakes clean and safe has been largely invisible to the community for decades. That will change this summer as the Twin Lakes Association steps up efforts to rid the lake of harmful invasive plants.
 
Beginning May 24, trained monitors in yellow vests will greet boaters launching from O’Hara’s Landing on Fridays through Sundays and on holidays. Monitoring will continue through Labor Day. The marina will also prominently display signs offering guidance on preventing the spread of invasive species, especially the fast-growing hydrilla discovered in Twin Lakes and other Connecticut lakes last year.

Non-native hydrilla is a four-alarm fire for the lake. It crowds out other plants, sucks oxygen from the water, and potentially suffocates fish. Left unchecked, it would render virtually unusable parts of the lake up to 20 feet deep. It is widely believed that this strain of hydrilla traveled to the lake on a boat or boat trailer from the Connecticut River, which has been dealing with the plant since 2016.

In launching a monitor program, Twin Lakes joins a handful of other lakes in the state taking similar action. Monitors will look for harmful weeds on boats and trailers, speak to boaters about preventative measures, and provide written materials. The TLA has hired eight monitors and will pay them $30 an hour. These monitors are not enforcement officials; they are there to inform and collect data. 

The TLA is looking for volunteers to assist. Training will be based on the state’s volunteer boat monitor program and require about 30 minutes. If interested, please email the program manager, Adam Mayer at amayer@salisburyschool.org. We plan to staff the ramp at O’Hara’s in shifts from 5 a.m. to noon and noon to 7 p.m.

A few TLA directors took part in a trial run at the marina on April 21, during a bass-fishing tournament. They report that things went smoothly, and the boaters were generally receptive to the program.

In a related move, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has replaced two boulders at the state launch north of the marina. The TLA requested this action, which returns the state launch to its original function as a site to put in car-top watercraft such as kayaks and canoes. This will push motorboats and trailers to the marina, where most boat launches occur, and where our monitors will be stationed.
 
A key piece of funding for the hydrilla battle this year was secured last month when the state awarded the TLA with $74,999 from its aquatic invasive species control program. This was the largest grant available to the TLA and required a detailed submission. Special thanks to those who prepared the application: Russ Conklin, Jackie Blombach, Bill Barton, Rich Haupt, and Jean Bell.
 
Given the new demands on TLA resources, the board agreed to raise dues this year to $50 per member, up from $25, effective for the 2024 season. This is the first dues increase in memory. Look for a membership drive in May. Thank you for your support.
 
Pond and Lake Connection, our vendor, applied herbicide to the Curley-leaf pondweed patches in West Twin on April 25. See the illustration by Russ Conklin (right) for locations. This is the first time the plant has been treated in West Twin. Curley-leaf pondweed grows early in the season. Treating it now minimizes potential damage to native plants that spring up later. The treatment areas are near the Salisbury School boat launch, in the rowing lane, and in the north cove.  
 
A landmark watershed study to determine the sources of runoff, pollutants, and sediments entering the Twin Lakes is underway. The TLA wants to assess the impact, rank the pollution sources, and develop remediation plans. This study will take 18 months. The Housatonic Valley Association is conducting the survey.

This year’s portion of the study is funded through a $25,000 grant from the Bates Foundation. We expect to spend a similar amount next year and will apply for another grant later this year. Peter Neely, a long-time lake resident and former town appointee to the Inland Wetlands Commission, is leading the study in concert with a steering committee that includes members of the TLA Board, the Town of Salisbury, HVA, the Sheffield Land Trust, and the DEEP.
 
Remember to submit your photo contest entries. This year’s theme is “colors,” and as always is open to anyone including non-members. Submit by email to dankadlec17@gmail.com or via Instagram #tlaphoto2024. We depend on submissions to generate photos for our website. Please enter often. Two winners will receive $50 prizes and their photos will be featured on the website.

Meeting minutes from the board’s April 11 call have been posted. The board just received the final 2023 plant monitoring report and water quality survey. Both are posted on the TLA website.
 

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