FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Freedom — January 23, 2005 — The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has agreed to provide State funds toward the cost of having professional divers remove the milfoil that has infested Phillips Brook and Leavitt Bay. Ossipee Lake Alliance applied for the funding in November on behalf of Ossipee’s Board of Selectmen.
In its letter of agreement, which is subject to final approval by the Governor and Governor’s Council, DES said that it will pay $5,000 toward the $10,000 cost of the initiative and make it a State pilot program to measure the effectiveness of diving as an alternative to controlling large-scale infestations with chemicals. Leavitt Bay’s milfoil was unsuccessfully treated with an aquatic herbicide last spring.
The proposed agreement is subject to the Town of Ossipee covering the remaining $5,000 for the work. Last year, Ossipee voters created a milfoil contingency fund that the Selectmen may use at their discretion. In a letter last week to Ossipee Board of Selectmen chairman Joe Chromy, Alliance director Susan Marks recommended that the Town pay for its share with money from that fund.
Milfoil has infested more than 50 bodies of water in the State, and Marks said that 23 lake associations made requests totaling $185,000 for the State’s $60,000 budget for milfoil control in 2005.
“State funds are limited and the application process is incredibly competitive,” Marks says. “We worked hard to secure as much State funding as possible, and we’re grateful that DES has agreed to support this effort and make it a pilot program for the State.”
Last fall, the Alliance and the Town of Freedom implemented what is believed to be the State’s largest milfoil control initiative using professional divers. Over a period of two months, a diving team removed more than 10,000 pounds of milfoil from Danforth Pond at a cost of $8,000. Since State funds were not available, the Town arranged to cover the work, which will continue in the spring when the divers return to check for re-infestations.
As Ossipee considers the State’s Leavitt Bay proposal, it is also faced with what to do about the milfoil that has infested Portsmouth Cove between Leavitt Bay and Broad Bay. That infestation was found by Alliance Weed Watcher volunteers in October.
While the Alliance believes volunteers can hand-harvest some of the weeds this fall when the State plans to lower the level of the lake earlier than usual, Marks says that such an effort would be a temporary measure, and a comprehensive control plan would still be required.
“We hope there will be State money available in 2006, but we can’t count on it. We’ve recommended that Ossipee continue to put money aside so it can be tapped as needed. Unless the State dramatically increases its funding, local communities are going to have to anticipate paying some or all of the cost of milfoil control.”