Each year, the St. Albans Area Watershed Association uses mechanical harvesters to cut and remove tons of unwanted plant material out of St. Albans Bay. The harvesters scooped up almost 90,000 bushels of plants in 2020 alone.
The aquatic weed harvesters are used for establishing things like navigation lanes and clearing out areas of varied plant growth, like impacted boating or swimming areas and the weed harvester can remove a lot of plant material. Alternatives would be more time consuming and expensive!
Funding for the 18-year old program is now in question as concerns were raised whether the harvesters are contributing to the spread of Eurasian watermilfoil by fragmentation in Lake Champlain.
However, an environmental analyst with the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation said that there’s no hard scientific evidence outside of anecdotal observation to suggest that harvesting is causing the spread of the milfoil. There are no data sets to answer whether the two lake weed harvesters are the major spreaders of the invasive plant species when there is plenty of boat traffic making waves and cutting through the invasive vegetation.