CLA Position Paper on use of Benthic Mats

Conesus Lake Association Position Paper re: Weeds and use of Benthic Mats

Position: Conesus Lake, like most lakes, has portions of the shoreline where dense aquatic vegetation significantly hampers dockside recreation. In addition, the vegetation creates stagnant water which provides a haven for organisms potentially harmful to humans and promotes the growth of undesirable filamentous algae. It is paramount to the health of the lake and the satisfaction of our lake residents that we have a weed control method that is readily available, effective, and easy to use. We believe that Benthic Weed Mat use, uncontrolled by regulations, is that solution.

Over the years, residents have used many techniques in an attempt to control dockside vegetation including: cutting, hand pulling, ripping by rakes, roto-tilling, dredging, suction harvesting, mechanical harvesting, benthic barriers, and many other creative methods.

It should be noted that several of these techniques are not only ineffective, but create numerous water quality issues for the lake. Any effort to cut, pull or harvest results in floating weeds and/or shoreline aggregation of rotting weeds which not only are unsightly and smelly, but encourage the growth of bacteria and other harmful conditions to the lake.

A study of the available science has convinced the CLA that benthic barriers provide a significant environmental improvement over these traditional techniques, while having little negative environmental impact. “Diet for a Small Lake” (published by the DEC and NYS FOLA), page 129, describes benthic barriers as…. “among the safest and least detrimental in-lake physical control technique (for aquatic vegetation) and often offers the greatest public satisfaction”. Additionally, Conesus Lake has had a high utilization of benthic mats for well over a decade, with no noticeable impact to the fishery or ecology of the lake.