Lake Mishnock Preservation Association

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Providence Journal October 05 article

 Lake's residents winning the war with the weeds

01:00 AM EDT on Friday, October 7, 2005

Journal Staff Writer

WEST GREENWICH -- A local group organized to improve and protect the water quality of Lake Mishnock has taken more than a few baby steps in its first year.

The Lake Mishnock Preservation Association has already begun fighting the weeds that threaten to choke the lake -- this summer hiring a professional company to begin applying state-approved herbicides to the weeds and other unwanted vegetation.

The group is also hard at work fundraising. Last spring it hosted a spaghetti supper that drew more than 550 people to the Mishnock Barn and raised about $5,000 for the lake's preservation.

And it has launched a detailed Web site that is rich with stories, pictures and environmental information about the spring-fed lake that covers nearly 50 acres in the northeastern part of town.

The energetic preservation association has no intention of slowing down, and this month is a hosting a public informational meeting intended to give an overview of all that has been accomplished and that still needs to be done to make the lake as clear as it was more than 30 years ago.

The meeting -- which is open to residents and nonresidents alike -- will be held on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Mishnock Barn, 200 Mishnock Rd.

"It's intended to be an educational meeting and is for anyone who is interested in this beautiful lake," Dan Albro, president of the Lake Preservation Association. "The state tests this lake and it is still one of the top five cleanest lakes in the state, but we want it to be as pristine as it once was."

He said that the meeting will also feature a presentation by experts from the University of Rhode Island who will provide information on how the septic systems of the homes around the lake can have minimal negative impact on the aquatic environment.

Albro, who owns the Mishnock Barn, has a long history with the lake because his family has owned most of the lake for generations.

He said that the greatest threat to the lake right now is milfoil, a feathery weed that proliferate easily, and grows in such dense patches that it fouls boat engines and makes the water unsafe -- and unappealing -- for swimmers.

The weed is not indigenous to the lake and the preservation association received approval from the state Department of Environmental Management this past summer to have Aquatic Control Technology Inc. of Sutton, Mass. apply herbicide to the milfoil. A few weeks later, a different treatment was also applied to reduce the lily pads in the lake.

"A lot of lakes in New England are combating the same problem," he said, "because if left unchecked, the milfoil will turn the lake into a swamp."

Kathy Fallon, treasurer of the lake preservation group, and her husband, Ken, said they are encouraged by the progress made and hope more people join the association to help their efforts.

Ken Fallon said that about 30 years ago, you could see the glint of a quarter lying about 20 feet down in the lake. But during the summer of 2004, he said, the water was so dark and tangled with milfoil that he wouldn't let his son dive in even on a hot day.

He said his family lives on the small west basin of the lake known as Little Mishnock where the mifoil problem is particularly bad. A few years ago, he and other residents were trying to free the lake of the unwanted vegetation by cutting up the weed, he said, but the lake association has now done a good job at educating residents that such a practice is one of the worse things to do because the cut pieces just sink to the bottom and give root to more milfoil.

After the treatments this summer, Fallon said the water around his dock is swimmable again and he was able to take out his small fishing boat and motor to the main part of the lake without getting snared in milfoil.

"Our motto is, 'It's all about the lake,' " Alboro said, "so we hope a lot of people attend the meeting."

People interested in joining the preservation group can visit the Web site at or write to the Lake Mishnock Preservation Association at P.O. Box 240, Coventry, R.I. 02816.