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Invasive plant found in area lakes

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NORWOOD — Small amounts of an invasive plant species have been found in Norwood Lake, and the village is planning to stop its spread before it becomes a problem.

Milfoil is an aquatic plant native to Europe and Asia that now can be found throughout much of the United States.

“We do not have a serious problem currently, but if we ignore it, as has happened in other waterways, it could cause a big problem,” said Norwood Mayor James H. McFaddin.

The milfoil was discovered by Frances K. McNierney, a junior at St. Lawrence University, Canton. Ms. McNierney was granted a research fellowship to survey area lakes in search of invasive species this summer.

“It’s a really big problem as an invasive plant, because it can grow by up to a centimeter a day and can spread by fragmentation,” Ms. McNierney said.

This means that when a piece of milfoil breaks off, it can grow roots to become a whole new plant.

The plant often ends up moving from one body of water to another by sticking to the bottom of boats.

If it is allowed to spread unchecked, the plant can completely overwhelm an ecosystem, filling the water, choking out native plants and creating hazards for boaters and swimmers.

Only small amounts of milfoil were found floating in Norwood Lake, which means steps still can be taken to stop its further spread.

“We’re going to address this issue early on,” Mr. McFaddin said.

The most important step, Mr. McFaddin said, is education. Boaters will be warned to clean the bottom of their boats to prevent more foreign species from being added to the lake. Signs posted along the shore will instruct people to be careful of what is introduced to the water, and to keep an eye out for the spread of milfoil.

The lake will be surveyed on a regular basis to see if further action needs to be taken.

Ms. McNierney found more examples of milfoil in the area during her survey. It was found in Goose Bay, and Mud Lake in DePeyster already has a very large milfoil population, she said.

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