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Town of Oswegatchie will spend $50,000 on Black Lake weeds removal

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The town of Oswegatchie next year will spend $50,000 of its own money to get started on a long-awaited weed eradication project at Black Lake.

Town Supervisor Alfred (Bud) Nichols said Monday that the town will budget the project locally as a first step in what is presumed to be a years-long, costly project.

“I think this will speed things up a little,” he said.

The town has until Aug. 5 to submit to the state Department of Environmental Conservation a plan to begin removal of the underwater weeds. Its investment will be reimbursed in 2014 by a $50,000 grant that state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, secured in 2012.

Earlier this summer, the town’s application for a $100,000 grant from the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency for invasive weed removal was denied.

Dawn C. Howard, St. Lawrence County Soil and Water Conservation District manager, called the $50,000 “a drop in the bucket” for a project that will take years and cost millions of dollars in grant money to complete.

Her agency is standing by to help.

“Whatever it is they need to do, we’ll help them,” Ms. Howard said.

The 20-mile-long lake is the largest lake in St. Lawrence County. Business owners along the lake and residents have said the weeds damage boat motors and threaten the lake’s tourism value, which is estimated to contribute $7 million to $10 million annually to the county’s economy.

“I support it (the $50,000 plan) because it’s a beautiful lake,” said Town Councilor Bruce O. LaRose.

In addition to the weed removal, there is also interest in funding for a revolving loan fund to help property owners repair or replace their home and summer camp septic systems. Leaky septic systems have been identified as a source of nutrients in the lake that help the invasive Eurasian water milfoil weeds thrive. An estimated 40 Black Lake property owners have expressed interest in the loan fund.

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