A judge blocks the use of herbicides in Lake George, for now | Local

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LAKE GEORGE — A state Supreme Court judge has granted a preliminary injunction voiding the Lake George Park Commission’s June permits for an aquatic herbicide to kill an invasive lake weed.

The decision comes after hearing comments on June 8 from attorneys representing both the park commission and the Lake George Association, as well as other lawsuit petitioners.

The preliminary injunction temporarily blocks the park commission’s use of the herbicide until the court believes it has enough information to make a final decision.

A document outlining the court’s decision notes that “although the petitioners may not ultimately prevail, they have established the minimum standard of proof required.”

The LGA, Lake George Waterkeeper, the City of Hague and a lakeside resident argued that the Adirondacks Park Agency rushed the permit approval process, failed to provide enough data and should have held a public hearing on the proposed use of the herbicide.

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The LGA and Water Guardian, in a press release, wrote that “this injunction will protect the lake while the court conducts a thorough review of the regulatory process used by the Adirondacks Park Agency to issue permits for herbicide”.

During the June 8 hearing, Josh Tallent, Assistant State Attorney General, argued before Judge Robert Muller that the herbicide had been used successfully without negative side effects in Lakes Minerva, Saratoga and Glen.

In response, the petitioners argued for the uniqueness of Lake George and that more data was needed on the specific application of the herbicide in Lake George. Authorities want to use the chemical against invasive Eurasian watermilfoil.

Dave Wick, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission, said Tuesday, “We are state agencies. We don’t have a separate agenda and we’re not innovating here. But I respect the court’s decision.

Muller had noted the exceptional amount of public interest during the June 8 hearing.

The judge will meet with lawyers for both sides at a private conference on June 29.

Now that the injunction has been granted, the LGA and Water Guardian said they plan to continue their own scientific research in tandem with Project Jefferson.

Although the injunction is temporary, Wick said it delays the planned use by at least a year because the park commission permits were for June, and the court action effectively voids the permits.

Wick said officials have until late June to use the herbicide, when Eurasian watermilfoil begins to grow aggressively.

The court order also states that “the preliminary injunction is subject to the plaintiffs posting a recognizance in the amount of $100,000 within 15 days of this decision.” This money will contribute to the park commission’s traditional method of controlling Eurasian watermilfoil through hand harvesting.

In a previous Post Star article, Wick said harvesting by hand costs $8,750 per week for each diver who removes the plants.

Drew Wardle is a journalist for The Post Star. You can contact him at 518-681-7343 or email him at dwardle@poststar.com.

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