By Ginny PrivitarFLORIDA — Weeds are slowly engulfing Glenmere Lake. And if protection for the northern cricket frog doesn't get out of the way, the lake will become one big bog, says Jim Pawliczek, mayor of the Village of Florida.
The village board unanimously agreed on Aug. 10 to start a petition to remove the tiny, high-jumping frog, acris crepitans, from New York State’s endangered species list. Studies conducted in and around Glenmere Lake say it's the largest known northern cricket frog population in the state. The lake is also the village's water source.
The problem is, to protect the frog's habitat, the state prohibits the use of herbicides, which Florida wants to apply to stop weeds from overtaking the lake. This is not Florida's first attempt to get the frog off the endangered list.
“We were successful when we tried to stop (the state) from implementing the three-mile zone" to protect the frog’s habitat, Pawliczek said. "They didn’t say they weren’t going to do it, but they put it on hold."
The state had earlier called for the protection of "suitable, but unoccupied, northern cricket frog habitat. This habitat currently has limited regulatory protection so protection must come by other methods. Particular emphasis should be placed on areas within 3 miles of extant populations.”
The state says the northern cricket frog "represents an important amphibian component of wetland ecosystems."
Getting other towns on boardThe village board hopes other affected municipalities — the towns of Goshen, Chester, and Warwick — will join the effort. Only a small slice of the lake, around Glenmere Mansion, is located in Chester.
"It may take us a while, and we may have to farm out the petition, get some other groups helping us," said Pawliczek.
He asked Trustee John Barczak to coordinate the effort and track its progress.
More than half the lake is owned by the New York State Department of Conservation and is classified as wetlands.
"We do get water from rest of the lake which is DEC wetlands," Pawliczek said. "But if entire lake becomes wetlands, there will be less room for the water.”
The mayor believes the frogs’ viability in Glenmere Lake is due partly to the copper sulfate the village uses to treat the water and control weed growth. He believes it keeps the frogs healthy.
Pawliczek said some people believe the frog is important and that “if it disappears we’ll have a problem. But the dinosaurs disappeared and we’re still here.”