Lake Minnewaska closed to treat for leeches

Lake Minnewaska will be closed on Tuesday, July 1, and Wednesday, July 2, to treat the popular swimming spot for leeches, according to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation website.

The announcement said that copper sulfate will be applied to treat the water for leeches with the two day closure applying to swimmers, boaters, scuba divers, fishers, drinking, irrigation and livestock or pet watering.

Assistant Park Manager with the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Jorge Gomes told The Times Herald-Record that the sesame seed-sized leeches first clung to his leg in mid-June, clueing him in to the lake’s blood-thirsty visitors. 

Gomes told Record reporter Jeremiah Horrigan that the leech infestation raises questions about changes to the lake’s ecosystem.

He said the lake’s high acidity has always kept the lake free of aquatic life, but that recent years have seen an unintentional introduction of fish species — golden shiners and large-mouth bass — to the area. 

The lower acid levels, he said, allow creepy crawly critters like the leeches to “thrive” and feast.