Ossipee — November 11, 2004 — Selectmen in Ossipee listened to a proposal to use divers to clear milfoil out of Ossipee Lake, but made no decisions about the matter at the board’s meeting Monday night.
Variable milfoil, an invasive plant that chokes out native vegetation and affects the ecology and recreation has been in several areas of lake. Milfoil has been found in Upper and Lower Danforth Ponds and Broad Bay in Freedom, and Philips Brook and Leavitt Bay in Ossipee. Weed Watchers has also identified milfoil in a section of the lake known as Haverhill Cove.
June D’Andrea who coordinates the Weed Watchers program for Ossipee Lake Alliance returned to the selectmen to discuss milfoil Nov. 8. She said the best way to reduce and manage the problem is by the use of divers.
Selectman Harry Merrow said he has some concerns about diving for milfoil. When the town budgeted for milfoil prevention and control using chemical last year, it was only paying half the cost, with the state matching those funds, he said. Selectmen had budgeted for another round of chemical treatment.
But now, if divers go down to pick up milfoil at its roots, the state will not grant matching funds, meaning the town would bear the full burden of paying for the divers. Merrow said he does not want to set a precedent where the town pays for the whole thing every time milfoil must be taken out.
D’Andrea elaborated that the state will only pay for chemical treatments. They do not have the funds or the workforce available to hire divers to deal with the Ossipee Lake milfoil. Divers have been working on pulling milfoil in some areas of the lake in Freedom already.
D’Andrea had said at a previous meeting that diving is much more effective than chemical treatments. Just weeks after the chemical treatments in June killed off the top portion of the milfoil in Philips Brook, the plant returned and flourished even better with the increased nutrients that fell to the lake floor.
In 2002, 1.5 acres of milfoil were treated in Upper Danforth Bay, D’Andrea said. In 2004, there are nine acres of milfoil in that area.
Although it was previously believed milfoil could not plant itself in sandy soil as found in the main body of water in Ossipee Lake, D’Andrea said that the milfoil has started to take hold in more sandy areas. It prefers the more nutrient-rich sediment areas, however.
Ossipee resident Bob Rivera suggested training volunteers to go diving for the milfoil.
D’Andrea responded by saying that she has tried to get volunteers in the past to go around plucking milfoil with her, but has not had much luck. Moreover, divers need to be certified to stay several feet underwater long enough to find and remove the delicate roots. Diving also needs to be done when water traffic is low, making some of the inlets more accessible than others for diving.
Merrow said that these are state waters and the state should have a responsibility and interest in preserving the water as much as the town does. The discussion was held over for another week.