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Norwood mystery plant likely another species of milfoil

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POTSDAM — A mystery plant found in Norwood Lake this summer is believed to be yet another variety of invasive milfoil.

Aquatic Invasive Management LLC, the Au Sable Forks company hired to clean up the lake, has taken a sample of the plant to a lab to confirm these suspicions.

A half-acre patch of the unidentified plant was discovered in July when AIM was hand-harvesting the problematic Eurasian milfoil that already had been discovered in the 400-acre lake.

Early tests by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to identify a sample of the plant were inconclusive. Village leaders were told to wait until August, when experts expected the plant to flower, making it easier to identify. It never did.

Village members, AIM representatives and faculty from Clarkson University took a boat out on the lake Friday to gather more samples and try to figure out what they were dealing with.

If the tests confirm the plant is a variety of multi-leaf milfoil, cleanup efforts will begin almost immediately.

“If it tests positive, we have 25 Clarkson students who will work under the guidance of Aquatic Invasive Management to remove that half-acre plot,” Mayor James H. McFaddin said.

The Norwood Lake Association already has spent about $2,000 to harvest Eurasian milfoil, another strain of the persistent invasive species. So far the village government has not had to spend any money to combat the plants’ spread.

Milfoil is a quick-spreading invasive plant that, if left unchecked, can choke out a body of water and make fishing and boating nearly impossible. A small piece of the stubborn aquatic weed can grow into a full-sized plant, allowing it to spread by being broken apart.

Once it enters a body of water, it is nearly impossible to eliminate completely. Eurasian milfoil was discovered in Norwood Lake last year, before it had a chance to spread too far, but it still likely will take yearly harvests to keep in check.

The village is working with other communities along the Raquette River, such as Colton and Tupper Lake, to stem the spread of the plant before it becomes truly problematic.

“We can work our way upriver and hopefully control this,” Mr. McFaddin said.

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