The Conservation Commission approved the first phase in the effort to eradicate invasive weeds at Windsor Lake.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city will begin cutting the invasive plants that have taken over much of the Windsor Lake shore.
The Conservation Commission on Tuesday approved the plan to remove the phragmites at the ice line, determining that the Wetlands Protection Act did not apply.
"Quite a bit of phragmites are growing all around the lake itself," said Administrative Officer Michael Canales. "What we're proposing is to get on the lake surface itself and cut it while it's frozen.
"We would be working above the resource area because the lake is frozen and therefore there should be no disruption to the waterfront."
The Windsor Lake Recreation Commission has been pushing for the city to take action on the invasive weed, saying it represents a danger to the local ecology and the recreational use of the lake.
Canales said city crews would be cutting the phragmite stalks with a bladed weed-whacker and removing them from the site, likely to be burned. The timeline will be tight to get as much done before the ice starts to melt since the plants hug the shoreline.
He told the board that he expected to return with an eradication and maintenance plan later in the spring that would mean chemical treatment or an underwater barrier, and possibly pulling the plants out.
"We will submit a new request for determination at that point when we take the next step," Canales said.
Chairman Jason Moran asked who would ensure the right plants were being removed.
"It has a very distinctive leaf on it and clumps together and grows in one area," said Canales. "The lake, we have pictures of it from 10 years ago that show there were no phragmites around the lake, where now it's all grown in.
"Right now, you can't see from the public side to the camping side because it's all grown in."
Public Services Superintendent Timothy Lescarbeau, also a member of the commission, said, "they choke out everything else that grows around them."
The campground can barely be seen from the public beach. Commissioner Gary Polumbo said HooRWA would be willing to help with the effort.
Volunteers at the last Windsor Lake commission meeting offered their time for the more labor-intensive effort of handpulling, should it come to that. They had also volunteered for cutting but Canales said later that city crews could handle the task at this time of the year, in between snowstorms and water breaks.
Commissioner Gary Polumbo said he was aware of other volunteer help as well.
"I have been told the organization HooRWA, Hoosic River Watershed Association, is committed to providing manpower and resources to assist the city if and when that decision is made," Polumbo said.
The commission approved the plan with the conditions the removal areas be documented; no plants be pulled or the shore disturbed; no motorized vehicle be used on the lake, and refueling of the gas-powered weedwhackers take place away from the lake surface. Lescarbeau said plastic tarps would be probably be used as sleds to transport the stalks off the ice.
The cutting will be done from the ice and from city-owned land, and from private land with permission.
The commission also determined that a request to re-establish and improve a berm and retention area on the west side of the property and a diversion berm on the south side, within the Hoosic River, by George Apkin & Sons Inc. was an allowed activity that did not trigger the Wetlands Protection Act. Apkins was represented by engineer Vincent Guntlow of Guntlow & Associates.