MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The town fired another salvo last week in its ongoing battle with the weed-encroachment problem on Lake Mahopac.
The Town Board and the Lake Mahopac Park District announced that after a long debate, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has finally issued them a permit to add 700 triploid carp to the lake. The carp are vegetarian and feast on the algae blooms and Eurasian milfoil that populate the lake and cause problems for boaters and swimmers.
The town, led by the Lake Mahopac Park District, has been trying to convince the DEC since last year that the carp are needed. Data was gathered and biomass studies were performed using drones to fly over the lake and observe the weed encroachment. The evidence was presented to the DEC, which was finally swayed to issue the permit, but not for the 1,750 carp that town officials had hoped for. Still, Supervisor Ken Schmitt said the 700 carp the permit does allow are welcome.
“After much debate and dialogue with the DEC, they have issued us a permit, which expires in November,” Schmitt said. “We wanted more [carp] but. . . . Ed Barnett and the Lake District members were very much involved in the meetings and by the end [the DEC] acquiesced a little bit and agreed they would give us the carp this year. They weren’t going to originally, but after they listened to our rationale and looked at our reports and the data from the biomass studies, they agreed with us.”
Schmitt also noted that state Sen. Peter Harckham and Assemblyman Kevin Byrne were instrumental in helping obtain the permit.
The DEC supplied a list of approved carp suppliers and Ed Barnett, chair of the Lake Mahopac Park District Advisory Board, reached out to three of them. KEO Fish Farm in Arkansas, which the town has worked with before, submitted the winning bid of $5,150 (700 fish at $7.36 per fish).
Schmitt said there are sufficient funds in the Lake Mahopac Park District budget to purchase the carp.
This is not the first time the town has used carp to combat the weed problem in Lake Mahopac. In 1996, the Lake District spent $33,000 on 2,565 carp and the problem was remedied within a year.
But by 2015, the algae blooms and weeds reappeared and began to spread around the lake. That year, 200 carp were added; two years later, 1,500 more were introduced.
But the weed encroachment continued and the Lake District continued to seek more carp. The carp are sterile and can’t reproduce, so it is estimated that with the 700 new carp, which will be added by the end the month, the carp population will be somewhere around 2,000 or more.
“The [new carp] are small and young and as they grow they eat more of the milfoil,” Schmitt said. “This is needed. We’ve gotten numerous complaints from residents around the lake. And it’s not just property owners—it is people who use the lake as well.
“The weeds have gotten out of control and I can attest to that,” he continued. “The algae blooms have spread and it’s affecting a lot of folks’ ability to use the lake for water activities. When you are swimming, it’s difficult. Your legs get entwined in the Eurasian milfoil. It’s getting jammed up in boat propellers; jet skis are getting jammed up. It’s a problem.”