More Milfoil Is Found In Ossipee Lake

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Freedom — August 25, 2003 — State experts have confirmed that a dense weed mass in and around Philips Brook on Leavitt Bay is Ossipee Lake’s third infestation of exotic variable milfoil, the invasive, fast-growing weed that is the focus of intensive efforts across the state to prevent its spread.

The discovery was made by camp volunteers collecting water samples as part of the Ossipee Lake Protection Program, a partnership between Ossipee Lake Alliance and Green Mountain Conservation Group. The site of the infestation is in the southwestern portion of Leavitt Bay in the area of Remle Road and J Loop Road.

The Philips Brook milfoil is the lake’s most significant infestation to date because of its density. According to Ken Warren of the exotic species program at the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES), other infestations of variable milfoil have been documented in Danforth Brook where it enters Broad Bay and in the narrows between upper and lower Danforth Ponds.

Variable milfoil is an exotic, or non-native, species that can be controlled but cannot be eradicated. It can be carried to distant parts of a lake by boats and can be spread by water currents when boats disturb or dislodge it. The three methods of controlling it are hand-pulling it from the water, covering it with mats known as bottom barriers, and treating it with aquatic herbicides, all of which are time-consuming and expensive. Left untreated it can spread rapidly and affect lake recreation and property values.

After the discovery, Ossipee Lake Alliance contacted local environmental groups and town officials to coordinate options to treat it. Alliance staff toured the infested area with Ossipee Selectman Harry Merrow, Ossipee Conservation Commission chairman Tim Nolin, and Broad-Leavitt Bay Association president Sheila Jones. The Alliance and Green Mountain Conservation Group also contacted Freedom and Effingham town and conservation officials to advise them of them of the finding.

Ossipee Selectmen plan to schedule a public information meeting on the milfoil this fall at which time NHDES officials will answer questions and discuss what the state thinks should be done. The date and time of the meeting will be announced in the next few weeks.

The discovery of new milfoil comes at the end of the summer-long environmental work of the Ossipee Lake Protection Program and underscores the challenges of maintaining control of the lake environment, according to David Smith, Ossipee Lake Alliance’s executive director.

“The two previous infestations have been relatively stable for the past few years and we have been successful in using the Lake Host program to prevent milfoil from entering or leaving the lake at the Pine River boat ramp. We thought we were on top of the situation, so the discovery of a new infestation is very frustrating.”

As a result of the discovery the Alliance is planning to increase its focus on milfoil for next year. “We have to do a better job of spreading the message that milfoil presents a real threat to the lake because of the recreational and economic harm it can cause.”

Smith cited the distribution of an environmental pamphlet on milfoil that was sent to Freedom shorefront property owners by the Freedom Conservation Commission as a positive step and noted that the Freedom group has expressed interest in starting a weed watchers program, a state initiative that has worked successfully on other lakes.

“Most importantly we need to start thinking beyond Pine River and reach out to those who control other access points on the lake to figure out together how we can increase public awareness and encourage more people to inspect their boats when entering and leaving the lake,” Smith says. “We believe the community will rally behind such an effort once we start to provide more information. There is a lot at stake.”

Ossipee Lake is the state’s seventh largest lake and is a significant economic contributor to the towns of Ossipee and Freedom. Ossipee Lake Alliance was formed in April to work with the lake community, state and town officials, and area environmental groups on programs to preserve and protect the lake as a vital resource. It maintains a website at www.ossipeelake.org.

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The following is reprinted by courtesy of the Carroll County Indedendent

Milfoil Found in Phillips Brook

By Mellisa Ferland

Ossipee — August 28, 2003 — The invasive plant, milfoil, has been discovered in Phillips Brook and it appears herbicides may be the only way to control the growth.

Phillips Brook is located off Leavitt Bay in Ossipee Lake. According to Amy Smagula of New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, this is the third finding of milfoil in Ossipee Lake.

While the two other spots are pretty much under control, Smagula said the Phillips Brook outbreak is a quite extensive population of every lush, dense growth.

According to an Ossipee Lake Alliance press release, the discovery was made by camp volunteers collecting water samples as part of the Ossipee Lake Protection Program, a partnership between the Alliance and Green Mountain Conservation Group. The site of the infestation is in the southwestern portion of Leavitt Bay in the area of Remle Road and J Loop Road.

The Philips Brook milfoil is the lake’s most significant infestation to date because of its density. According to Ken Warren of the exotic species program at the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES), other infestations of variable milfoil have been documented in Danforth Brook where it enters Broad Bay and in the narrows between upper and lower Danforth Ponds. The ultimate goal is to prevent the spread of milfoil. If an outbreak occurs, however, the hope is only to control further growth, as the plant cannot be eradicated.

During Monday night’s Ossipee selectmen’s meeting, the board was made aware of the most recent outbreak. The board intends to send letters to about 40 abutters in the outbreak area to invite them to a public hearing in October when NHDES will accept public comment and inform attendees of the threat posed by milfoil and possible control methods available.

Smagula said there are three ways to deal with milfoil outbreaks. If milfoil is detected early enough, barrier blankets can be laid on top of the plants at the water body floor to stunt the growth of the plants. Or if discovered before the plant matures too thickly or too tall, divers can be brought in to hand pull the plants. In some parts of the state, attempts have been made to lower water body levels and allow the milfoil to freeze in an effort to kill the plant.

This was tried several years ago on Ossipee Lake’s Broad Bay. However, Smagula said, the plant is very adaptive to freeze and thaw cycles so this method is less than effective.

Because the Phillips Brook milfoil growth is so extensive, Smagula said the best option will be to use herbicides on the plants. Smagula said a licensed contractor will be brought in for a field inspection next month and will formulate a plan for dealing with the outbreak. Smagula said two types of chemicals are used in herbicides.

The first, Diquat, is a contact herbicide that kills milfoil above the root, turns the plant brown and forces it to decay after about two weeks. The second, 2,4-d, is a plant-based growth hormone systemic herbicide that kills the root and the plant. Smagula said these chemicals have been in use for a couple of decades and there has been no proof of negative impact to water, wildlife or humans.

Smagula said working with the herbicides in Phillips Brook may prove difficult to keep the necessary concentration level up to be effective against the plants. It is very early in the process and in addition to questions about the best way to control the outbreak; there is also a question about who will pay for the work.

Smagula said there is state funding to pay 100 percent of the cost of the treatment for the first outbreak in a body of water. But because this is the third time milfoil has been detected in Ossipee Lake, the funding help may be decreased to a 50/50 match with the town. Smagula cautioned to say how much funding help is available, as she had not yet had time to review the lake records.

Smagula pointed to a number of reasons milfoil should concern citizens. Milfoil can be damaging to the ecology of aquatic systems, disrupting the diversity of vegetation and animal life. Smagula also cited a University of New Hampshire study that found in areas where milfoil is present; surrounding property values can be decreased 10 to 20 percent.

Milfoil affects enjoyment of the lake by tangling itself in fishing lines and making it difficult for swimmers. In fact, she said there have been cases of swimmers who have drowned after becoming tangled in the invasive plant. Smagula said milfoil was first discovered in Moultonboro in 1965 and since then 56 bodies of water statewide have become infested. She said the primary means of transmission of the plant from one body of water to another is through boat trailers and propellers as most new infestations are found in boat launch areas. Phillips Brook is a boat launch area for Leavitt Bay.

How can people help monitor bodies of water? Smagula said beachfront property owners are encouraged to inspect their beaches regularly in May through September. If milfoil is suspected, a specimen should be sent to her for identification. To collect a sample a single plant stem with leaves should be cut off, wrapped in a wet paper towel, sealed in a Ziploc plastic bag and sent to Amy Smagula at NHDES, 6 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301 or concerned citizens can call her office at 271-2248.

Smagula said it takes more than milfoil seeds, spores, leaves or tiny fragments of the plant to cause an infestation. But, she added, an infestation could be started by a single healthy stem of four inches or longer with an intact leaf structure. Variable milfoil is native to the United States but not to New Hampshire, said Smagula. In other parts of the country, milfoil is held in check by the natural water chemistry. Milfoil infestation in this state is assumed to have come from dumping of fish aquariums as the pretty, feathery plants are often used in home fish tanks as an excellent oxygen producer.

NHDES Exotic Species Program maintains a website at www.des.state.nh.us/wmb/exoticspecies for more information and plant identification. Ossipee Lake Alliance maintains a website at www.ossipeelake.org for more information about their efforts to protect Ossipee Lake, the seventh largest lake in the state.

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The following is reprinted by courtesy of the Conway Daily Sun

Worst Case of Milfoil Yet Uncovered In Ossipee Lake

By Staff Report

Ossipee — August 28, 2003 — State environmental experts have confirmed that a dense weed mass in and around Philips Brook on Leavitt Bay on Ossipee Lake is the lake’s third and worst infestation of exotic variable milfoil yet.

Milfoil is a non-native and fast-growing weed that can be controlled but not eradicated. It is often carried by boat propellers and spread by water currents when disturbed by boat. If it is left untreated, milfoil can spread rapidly and affect lake recreation activities and nearby property values.

According to Ken Warren of the exotic species program at N.H. Department of Environmental Services, other milfoil infestations in Ossipee Lake have been documented in the area of Danforth Brook where it enters Broad Bay, and in the narrows between upper and lower Danforth Ponds.

This latest infestation, in the southwestern part of Philips Brook, is seen as the most significant one to date because of its density. It was uncovered by camp volunteers collecting water samples as part of the Ossipee Lake Protection Program, a partnership between Ossipee Lake Alliance and Green Mountain Conservation Group.

The news comes at the end of the summer-long Ossipee Lake protection program and underscores the challenges of maintaining control of the lake environment, according to David Smith, executive director of the alliance. “The two previous infestations have been relatively stable for the past few years and we have been successful in using the Lake Host program to prevent milfoil from entering or leaving the lake at the Pine River boat ramp. We thought we were on top of the situation, so the discovery of a new infestation is very frustrating,” Smith said.

The alliance was formed in April to work with the lake community, state and town officials and area environmental groups on programs to preserve and protect the state’s seventh largest lake. Members contacted local environmental groups and town officials to coordinate options to treat the milfoil infestation of Philips Brook and some members toured the area with Ossipee Selectman Harry Merrow, Ossipee Conservation Commission chairman Tim Nolin, and Broad-Leavitt Bay Association president Sheila Jones. Freedom and Effingham town and conservation officials were also advised of the finding.

Milfoil can be controlled by picking it out of water bodies by hand, covering it with mats called bottom barriers or treating it with herbicides. These methods are generally time-consuming and expensive.

Ossipee selectmen are expected to schedule a public information meeting on the milfoil this fall at which time Department of Environmental Services officials will answer questions and discuss what the state thinks should be done. The alliance also plans to increase its focus on milfoil for next year. “We have to do a better job of spreading the message that milfoil presents a real threat to the lake because of the recreational and economic harm it can cause,” said Smith. The alliance has created a website. Log onto to www.ossipeelake.org.

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