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Copake nonprofit asks for funds to fight invasive species

Jan 24, 2022 5:45 am

Diane Valden is reporting for The Columbia Paper zebra mussels have moved into Copake Lake and they threaten to wreck the place. Lindsay LeBrecht, speaking on behalf of the Copake Lake Conservation Society, came to the January 13 Copake Town Board meeting seeking financial help to fight the invasive species. Zebra mussels are an invasive, fingernail-sized mollusk native to freshwaters in Eurasia. It is estimated they arrived in the Great Lakes in the 1980s via ballast water discharged by large ships from Europe. Zebra mussels “disrupt the food chain, change water chemistry, and clog water intake and delivery systems for drinking water, irrigation and hydropower,” according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The funds sought by the conservation society would pay for a chemical treatment that targets the mussels and it would cost roughly $75,000. LeBrecht told the board that most of the lake shoreline is privately owned, but where the lake meets the corner of Lakeview Road and County Route 7, a small section of the 410-acre lake’s 5.2 miles of shoreline is owned by Columbia County. “And here is where the problem begins,” she said. The one place on the shore without monitoring is “the county corner,” LeBrecht said. Town Supervisor Jeanne Mettler noted there were a couple of issues involved in the CLCS request. The first is whether the board wants to help and the second is whether the board can do anything legally to help. Town Attorney Jonathan Tingley said generally speaking, with limited exceptions, a municipality cannot make a gift. “A donation to a private entity is problematic,” he said. Mettler asked the town attorney to research what legal options the town has and to come back next month for a continuation of the discussion. The board next meets on February 10. Read the full story in The Columbia Paper.