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Volunteer Profile – Pat Deyle, Raquette Lake

APIPP Volunteer, Pat Deyle (Center), unveiling the new Watershed Steward “Shed” donated by the Raquette Lake Preservation Foundation at the Raquette Lake Boat Launch.

Being an APIPP volunteer comes with certain responsibilities. Volunteer lake monitors for APIPP’s Aquatic Invasive Species Project are one of the first lines of defense against aquatic invasive species (AIS). With AIS on the move, and a majority of Adirondack waterways being AIS-free, early detection is critical to effective management and spread prevention. Through APIPP’s Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, citizen volunteers or organizations monitor lakes or ponds of their choice, attend training sessions to hone their identification skills of native and invasive aquatic plants, and gain instruction on how to conduct an AIS survey.


This summer’s first Volunteer Profile spotlights Pat Deyle. Pat has been an APIPP volunteer for 11 years. He was first introduced to APIPP and the Lake Monitoring Program when Hilary Smith, APIPP’s Director, conducted an aquatic invasive plant identification training session near Raquette Lake in the early 2000s. Since then, Pat has continually attended every available training session and seminar pertaining to invasive species and the environment. At these training sessions, “You always pick up something new,” said Pat.



Originally from Ilion, NY, Pat has spent his summers on and around Raquette Lake since 1943. Pat studied zoology and biology at SUNY Brockport, was a physical education instructor for the Utica City School District, and is a retired marketing sales manager from Chicago Pneumatic. When asked about what piqued his interest in the environment and what made him get involved, Pat replied: “I grew up hunting with my father and have always been interested in plants and animals.”


More specifically, when asked about what concerned him most about his primary lake, Raquette Lake, Pat replied: “Variable-leaf milfoil. I didn’t know what it was, just that it was a pain-in-the-butt plant.”

 

VLM closeup with emergent flowering stalk.
Dense bed of submerged VLM

Pat went on to describe how he first encountered variable-leaf milfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum, also known as VLM) in Raquette Lake during the 1950s as an encumbrance to recreation activities such as water skiing. VLM is a submerged aquatic invasive plant with an emergent flowering stalk that can form thick, dense mats which crowd out native vegetation and impede aquatic recreation. The main vector of spread for this species is most likely fragmentation, meaning that the bits and fragments of VLM plants have the ability to re-sprout in new locations if disturbed or carried on water vessels from one body of water to another. For more information about variable-leaf milfoil, please visit http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/PDFpubs/2530.pdf.


For APIPP’s Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, Pat sets out on Raquette Lake at least once a year (more likely, several times per year) via kayak with a five-gallon bucket fixed with a see-through, plexiglass bottom to help reduce the glare from the surface of the water and to get a better look at the vegetation on the lake floor. He also carries a homemade rake-toss, fixed with two, back-to-back rakes with a ropes attached to the end. This device allows surveyors to collect vegetation samples from beneath the surface of the water so plants can be properly identified.


Beyond Raquette Lake, Pat also conducts these surveys on a number of other nearby lakes, such as the Brown Tract Ponds, Sagamore Lake, Mohegan Lake, and Eighth Lake. Pat is also the Invasive Species Coordinator for the non-profit organization, Raquette Lake Preservation Foundation (RLPF). For RLPF, Pat oversees the sites and activities of 22 Watershed Stewards in the surrounding area, now funded and provided by Paul Smith’s College and the Adirondack Watershed Institute’s Watershed Stewardship Program.


Pat has built such a strong repertoire with citizens and local businesses in the Raquette Lake area with regards to invasive species prevention, he has developed an arrangement with a local marina, Burke’s Marina, which allows his stewards to send boaters over to the marina (only a short drive away), prior to launching in the lake, to be vigorously washed and decontaminated. Pat was also able to solicit local contractors to donate materials for the newly built Watershed Steward “shed,” a structure providing shelter to Watershed Stewards while on-duty at the boat launch on Raquette Lake.

When asked about the effectiveness of the lake monitoring program and other educational initiatives regarding AIS, Pat said: “A lot more folks wash their boats before launching into our waterway. I’d say 15% of boaters washed when we first started paying attention. Now at least 80% of folks are washing their boats before entering the lake.”


Further, when Pat was asked about suggestions for improvement in the fight against aquatic invasive species, Pat replied: “More people need I-LIDS.” Pat was referring to the Internet-Landing Installed Device Sensor (I-LIDS) which was implemented at the main boat launch on Raquette Lake in 2011. The I-LIDS system takes digital videos of visitors launching boats into the lake to assist boat launch stewards, primarily when one is not present, to detect and deter the transport of AIS. It can also vocally relay an invasive species prevention-related message to boat launch users. For more information on the I-LIDS program on Raquette Lake, please visit http://rlpf.org/i_lids.pdf.


Pat has been tirelessly active in the Raquette Lake community and in the fight against invasive species in the Adirondacks for more than a decade. In his spare time, he conducts homemade experiments with AIS, including how different nutrients and fertilizers affect the growth of VLM; how viable water chestnut (Trapa natans) plants and Asian clams would be in Raquette Lake waters and soils (ex situ); and organizing a yearly kayak raffle to help support funds for managing VLM through the use of benthic mats. Pat also spends time woodworking and marketing his craft at venues such as the Starving Artist Gallery in Old Forge and the End of the Line Caboose Gift Shop in Raquette Lake.

 

Pat Deyle


Thank you, Pat, for your years of dedication. We look forward to working with you for many more years to come!

 

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