400 fish to the rescue to help eliminate algae in Ridgebury Lake

[USA] Ridgebury Lake neighbors, suffering through their seventh summer of an algae-choked lake caused by a DEC snakehead-eradication effort that killed all the fish, are seeing a glimmer of hope.

At this time last year, the lake was so clogged with algae, boaters couldn’t get their oars in the water.

Dead fish were lining the shore, and others were gulping for air in the water. The neighbors said there was a strong odor when the air temperature rose.

But, during the past few weeks, there have been some large, clear spots on the 28-acre lake.

Don Paris, who lives on Post Road on the east side of the lake, had a big, clear patch in front of his house recently.

The word from the state Department of Environmental Conservation is its latest fish-stocking effort is working, slowly but surely.

In June, the DEC put 400 triploid grass carp in the lake to eat the algae. At $12 a fish, it cost $4,800.

Triploid grass carp
Triploid grass carp

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Paris, who has been a lakefront resident since 1999.

Wawayanda Supervisor John Razzano hopes this latest fish-stocking effort gets results. He noted that the DEC has unsuccessfully stocked carp in the lake before.

Razzano, who’s also a lakefront resident, said he’s pleased that the DEC added more carp, but he’s still upset about what the agency did to the lake.

Ridgebury Lake’s algae problem goes back to August 2008, when the DEC, in its drive to rid the lake of a highly invasive species of fish, northern snakeheads, killed all the fish in the lake, including carp that fed on the algae.

Northern snakehead
Northern snakehead

The DEC had feared that the snakeheads would make their way into the Hudson and wreak havoc on other fish populations.

The DEC’s $200,000 Ridgebury Lake snakehead eradication program did exterminate the snakeheads, and about eight tons of fish altogether, but it also destroyed the ecological balance of the lake.

A spokeswoman at Region 3 headquarters, which oversees the mid-Hudson, said the next step is to secure outlets so the fish don’t escape. The town and the DEC will work together on that, said the spokeswoman, Sarah Shepard, and a barrier is being designed.

“Our fisheries biologist said they’ve put in the maximum amount given the size of the lake,” Shepard said. “Now we have to keep the fish in there so they can do their work of eating vegetation. You don’t just work magic overnight. We’ll see improvement next summer or the summer after that.”

 

Photo: Ridgebury Lake in Slate Hill has been clogged by algae. ELAINE A. RUXTON/TIMES HERALD-RECORD

View original article at: 400 fish to the rescue to help eliminate algae in Ridgebury Lake

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