Boat Ramp Owners to Receive Milfoil Prevention Help

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEFreedom — April 2, 2005 — Owners of the lake’s boat ramps will receive help in preventing new milfoil infestations when Ossipee Lake Alliance launches its Exotic Species Prevention Program this month.

The new program, dubbed ESP and funded in part by the N.H. Department of Environmental Services, is the latest in a series of initiatives the Alliance has created to stay one step ahead of the destructive weed that has infested parts of the lake from Danforth Pond to the Ossipee River at Effingham Falls.

The ESP program will start with a half-day workshop for the owners and managers of the lake’s boat ramps, who will hear from specialists who have developed successful milfoil prevention efforts around the region.

The ramp owners will also receive on-the-spot help in developing their own prevention plans, which Alliance volunteers will help launch during the summer. As part of the program, the Alliance will provide the ramp owners with customized printed materials and help organize milfoil awareness events.

Owners Suggested the Idea

The idea for the program came from the ramp owners themselves, according to program director Susan Marks. “Several of them asked what they could do to help keep milfoil out of the lake, and we realized that we needed to find out more about ideas that have worked elsewhere.”

Exotic variable milfoil is brought into the lake by boats and there are more than 30 boat ramps on Ossipee Lake, from marinas to condominiums to campgrounds. All but two of them are privately owned.

For the past two years the Alliance has managed a number of milfoil awareness and control initiatives, including forming a volunteer Weed Watchers program and supervising milfoil removal in Danforth Pond and Leavitt Bay. The only formal program to prevent new milfoil from entering the lake has been the Lake Host program at the public ramp on Pine River, an effort sponsored by the New Hampshire Lakes Association and managed locally by Green Mountain Conservation Group.

Marks says the Lake Host program has been a success at Pine River but its reliance on annual State funding and formal boat inspections makes it difficult to use as a model for the rest of the lake.

“Our program’s focus is to help each ramp owner create a customized plan that will work for their particular situation and be affordable and sustainable for years to come.”

The Boater’s Checklist

Planning for the program began in November at a meeting at Calumet Conference Center attended by town officials, local lake associations, and members of the conservation commissions of Freedom, Effingham, and Ossipee. Members of the three commissions subsequently reached out to the ramp owners to invite them to participate.

Marks believes the ESP program’s goals are achievable because boaters already have a mental checklist they use when they launch their boat. In addition to making sure the gas tank is filled, the checklist includes making sure there is a workable fire extinguisher onboard and ensuring that each passenger has a life preserver. The aim of ESP is to make milfoil a part of that mental checklist.

“If checking for weeds was the very last thing each boater thought of before backing his boat into the water we would have a hugely successful prevention program on Ossipee Lake and a model other lakes could adopt. We think we can succeed.”

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