MAHOPAC, N.Y. - There is finally some relief in sight for the ongoing weed problem in Lake Mahopac as the state Department of Conservation (DEC) has agreed to allow the town to stock it with 1,500 triploid carp.
Triploid carp, also known as grass carp, are an herbivorous species of fish commonly used for weed control.
'The Lake Mahopac Park District and town officials have been asking the state to replenish the carp population for several years, saying the weed growth in the lake has gotten out of control.
'“The lake does have a serious vegetation problem with milfoil and other vegetation that has been blooming and spreading around,” said Supervisor Ken Schmitt at the Town Board’s May 24 meeting. “It affects intakes on boats, propellers, swimmers. It is definitely out of control once again.”
The DEC allowed the town to add 200 carp last year, but park district and town officials say it wasn’t nearly enough. The last time the lake had a major carp restocking was 1996.
To convince the state that more carp were needed, the park district performed a biomass study last summer. A drone, equipped with a camera, was used to measure the extent of the weed problem and the results were sent to the DEC.
“This was not an easy process,” Schmitt said. “The DEC originally was not in agreement with the town of Carmel. That’s why they issued us a permit for only 200 carp last year. Even with all the new [information]—the biomass study and new data and research—it took a lot to convince them. But once they received all that information and reviewed it, they agreed with the town. The biomass study that was done on the lake supports the number of carp the DEC has issued a permit for. These 1,500 carp and the 200 put in there last year are going to address the [weed] issue. All they eat are weeds; they’re vegetarians. And they don’t reproduce.”
Ed Barnett, chair of the lake district’s board of directors, said getting the right number of carp was important.
“We don’t want to eradicate the weeds, but we want to have some control so it’s not a nuisance,” he told Mahopac News last year, just before the biomass study. He said if the vegetation was eradicated, it could harm some of the other species of fish that reside in the lake.
“The largemouth bass needs a weed cover to breed and hide from predatory fish,” he noted.
Barnett said that the last time the district performed such a biomass survey was in 1993 when it was noted that there were 175 acres of weeds on 583 acres of lake. The DEC provided 2,565 carp then and it solved the problem.
At last week’s meeting, the board accepted a bid of $11,000 for the 1,500 carp (about $7.33 per fish) from Keo Fish Suppliers in Keo, Ark. The cost includes the delivery and stocking of the fish and will be borne by the residents of the Mahopac Park District.
“The town of Carmel is not paying for the carp,” Schmitt said. “It’s just [the park district] residents.”
Town officials said they were optimistic the additional carp will solve the recent weed dilemma.
“I was out on the lake last week and it definitely needs it,” said Councilwoman Suzy McDonough, who serves as a liaison between the Town Board and the park district. "Hopefully everyone will start to see [a difference] now.”
Schmitt echoed McDonough’s sentiments.
“My office received a lot of complaints and concerns from the residents who live on the lake that the weeds were getting out of control and to please help them,” he said. “We took that and ran with it. I am glad that this finally came through.”