It sticks out of the water like a pole-- it's a non-native plant that has boaters on Lake Bomoseen singing the blues.
"This season's the worst season in a long time," said Eric Kelley of Woodard Marine.
Kelley says every boater he rents to has a complaint about the presence of the invasive species milfoil.
"It will get caught up around the prop and make it so it can't suck water to cool the boats down and you end up overheating and burning up motors," Kelley said.
Wildlife biologists say in recent years though, the invasive species has been on the decline.
"It's nowhere near the abundance or the density that it was 10 or 12 years ago. It has dropped dramatically," said Shawn Good of the Vt. Fish and Wildlife Department.
Back then, he says, milfoil was so dense and vast, boats literally couldn't travel across the lake. Now, though, it's only in small, shallow, concentrated pockets near docks and in the channel, so boaters and swimmers still notice it.
"You might look and see a bed of milfoil that you might consider thick or dense, but it really doesn't feel like those big clogging mats that it did 10 years ago," Good said.
But boaters and swimmers are shaking their heads saying this season, it's bad.
"Everyone complains coming through the channel about the weeds," Kelley said.
Good says there's a reason people are noticing more milfoil now, even though in general it's on the decline.
"Well, that's because it's been growing for two more months this year than it did last year," he said.
He says runoff from Tropical Storm Irene brought fertilizer into the lake. That, paired with a warm winter and an early summer gave the non-native plant an early start, but Good doesn't expect it will become a pattern.
Though boaters want to nullify the nuisance plant.
Good says the state doesn't have plans to stop the weed. The Lake Bomoseen Association has tried to cut it with a special boat, but Good says that actually makes things worse. The harvester doesn't pull the plant up from the root, and stray pieces spread, making for more milfoil.
But it's not all bad. Biologists say a small amount of milfoil is good for the lake's natural inhabitants.
"It's cover and protection and habitat for young fish, juvenile fish, adult fish. It offers places for them to hide so they don't get eaten," Good said.
Bothersome for boaters, but for biologists, the milfoil is under control.
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:39 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:39:09 GMT
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Sunday, May 19 2013 8:38 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:38:13 GMT
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