Freedom — October 7, 2004 — The town of Freedom, working with Ossipee Lake Alliance, has hired a crew of divers to come in and clean out the variable milfoil from the Freedom section of Ossipee Lake.
The milfoil has been found in various locations from Ossipee Lake Marina through upper and lower Danforth and into Huckins Pond. The town agreed to hire commercial diver Cliff Cabral of Brownfield, Maine, to lead a group of three divers in harvesting the milfoil.
Cabral has done similar work in Maine with good results, said June D’Andrea, of Ossipee Lake Alliance. They will work from the areas of most milfoil to the least. The project is expected to begin after Columbus Day and to take three weeks, with the divers working three days a week.
The cost of the clean up will be $8,000. Freedom voters raised $2,500 in a warrant article at this year’s town meeting. Selectmen also asked Danforth Bay Campground and Ossipee Lake Marina to contribute, and they agreed to put in $2,000 and $1,000 respectively Another $2,500 is needed to complete the work.
D’Andrea, who led the new Alliance Weed Watchers program at the lake this summer, said the campground will be having a fund-raising event this weekend to raise money and awareness about the milfoil problem. But the group will also accept donations from individuals.
Variable milfoil is not native to New Hampshire. It has been introduced to a number of lakes in the state, most likely being brought in on boats and fishing gear. It can spread rapidly and choke out native fish and vegetation. Other efforts on the lake have focused on making boaters more aware of how they can stop its spread.
If the hand pulling with divers is successful, D’Andrea said, they will still have to come back next year.
“The first year is the biggest. Then the second year less and the third year less and hopefully by the fourth year we won’t have any.”
But people on the lake will still have to be vigilant, because the milfoil could spring back or be reintroduced.
“Hopefully if we stay on top of it, we’ll get to the point where we won’t ever have to pay $8,000 for a bay again,” she said.
Last year, the state paid for the application of a chemical herbicide in Philips Brook, where it feeds into Ossipee Lake. The state had said the application could keep milfoil out of the brook for one to three years. But milfoil watchers found the plant was back stronger than ever this year. Unfortunately the decay of the plants that were killed last year created silt, which made for better growing conditions for the milfoil when it returned.
Ossipee Lake Alliance is now looking at the possibility of having divers come back next year and clean out the brook. It is also seeking funding to support a study of the intensive use of divers to hand pull the milfoil. Studies have been done on using chemicals to kill the plant, but no research has been done in New Hampshire on the effectiveness of diving programs for comparison.
Eventually, David Smith of Ossipee Lake Alliance said, the group would like to see a multi-town effort to address the problem of milfoil on the lake as a whole. ” Freedom, Ossipee and Effingham all have land on the lake. So far, if there’s an infestation in their town, that town has focused on what to do,” Smith said.
This fall, he said the Alliance will be talking with officials in all three towns and asking them to look at a stewardship program for the lake.
“We’ll look at does it make sense to work cooperatively? Is the lake important enough to all three communities to justify, for example, trying to coordinate different elements of zoning in different towns?” he said. “These are weighty issues. They’re not going to be solved in a flash.” But, he said, the swiftness with which the town and two businesses along the lake have found money for the dive work is an excellent sign.
EDITORIAL FROM SAME ISSUE
Diving for Milfoil
The town of Freedom and the Ossipee Lake Alliance are preparing to do a major program to begin the eradication of variable milfoil from Ossipee Lake. A crew of divers will be hand pulling the weed from a large section of the lake in Freedom, from Broad Bay to Huckins Pond.
The exotic plant has been known to exist in the lake for more than 10 years and was probably brought in by boaters. It has been spreading, and has now been found in several sections of the lake in Freedom and Ossipee.
The town does not have sufficient funds to cover the complete cost of the project. Since they did not know what the cost would be, townspeople raised $2,500 at town meeting to cover the cost.
Fortunately, Ossipee Lake Marina and Danforth Bay Campground have come forward to help with the costs, donating a total of $3,000 to the effort. These businesses are to be commended for recognizing that the work must be done. But another $2,500 is needed to complete the work. If you are interested in helping with this effort, contact June D’Andrea at 539-1643.