Opponents of Lake Bomoseen herbicide application push statewide ban

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 6:14 PM EDT
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CASTLETON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont lawmakers will take up a bill to stop spreading herbicides on lakes to prevent aquatic invasives. The measure is aimed, in part, to put a pause on a permit application at Lake Bomoseen, which opponents see as a flawed process.

Bill Vonn spent his weekend out on the ice on Lake Bomoseen trying his luck to reel in pike, pickerel, and bass.

He’s one of the thousands of Vermonters who spend time on the lake year-round. But for decades, the lake has seen an explosion in Eurasian milfoil, an aquatic invasive species. After unsuccessfully trying to manually remove it from the lake, The Lake Bomoseen association is seeking a permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation to spread the herbicide ProcellaCOR.

Opponents of the proposal rallied at Castleton’s Town Hall Sunday last to push for the passage this week of House Bill 31. It would put a pause on spraying herbicides in Vermont lakes and require the state to study the impact of similar herbicides before the DEC could issue a permit.

Former state lawmaker and lobbyist Bob Stannard has been leading the charge against the Lake Bomoseen permit. He says Vermont’s overall permitting process is flawed because it allows small groups to initiate a policy affecting many others who may not support it. “It could be somebody from Texas could file an application for $500 and the DEC has to look at it,” Stannard said.

But Vermont Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore defends the work of the DEC and says the state’s team of scientists reviews every permit application diligently, balancing public good, recreational impact, water quality.

“There are some times where we have gone back to applicants to reduce the scale and scope of what’s been proposed or change their approach outright, knowing there is a lower impact way to achieve their goals and objectives,” Moore said.

Opponents of the Lake Bomoseen permit say they want more voices involved in the process of milfoil management.

The timeline for when the permit would be issued or denied is unknown. With just a handful of days left before crossover day at the Statehouse, advocates are hoping that the bill can make it across the finish line.

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