Ossipee — August 4, 2006 — Diver Cliff Cabral and Susan Marks of Ossipee Lake Alliance met with selectmen at the board’s meeting Monday afternoon to discuss the status of milfoil eradication on Ossipee Lake, and plans for this year’s project of pulling the weed.
Cabral recommended a three-day milfoil project for the town, at a cost of $6,000.
Variable milfoil is an exotic plant that can grow densely in shallow waters and chokes out other plants and animals, and makes boating, fishing, swimming and other recreation difficult. It is growing in a number of areas around the lake. Cabral, of New England Milfoil, is working with divers to pull the plant in hopes of keeping it from spreading.
Cabral worked to clean out areas on the lake in Ossipee and Freedom last year. He recommended returning to those areas to remove any remaining plants that could be found.
Cabral reported a 70-75 percent reduction in the milfoil in Phillips Brook and a 95 percent reduction in Leavitt Bay as a result of last year’s pulling efforts.
In his report, he said, “In addition to the contracted areas above, we spent some time pulling from the beach area to the west of Phillips brook and in Portsmouth Cove, and this summer found a reduction of regrowth in those areas as well.”
In an inspection of the areas, he said, “I noticed that there were a lot of fragments of milfoil on the beaches due to boater traffic,” noting that his is how the plant spreads.
The milfoil pulling project would include three days in the water with three divers pulling the plant, two tenders and tending skiff, and a truck to remove the material. The work would be followed up with inspections in late fall and next spring, to assess the success of the project.
Overall, Cabral noted that there has been a sizeable reduction in the amount of milfoil as a result of pulling, and that Ossipee is lucky in the respect that the lake is sandy rather than mucky. “It’s harder for the plant to regrow in sand,” he said.
But Marks cautioned that does not mean dredging will help eradicate the weed. Following a dredging operation on Phillips Brook, the milfoil situation actually became worse because the plants are broken up and each piece can individually re-root and grow a new plant. That is also why it is important for anyone pulling the plant to make certain they are trained to get the entire plant and root when they remove them.
Selectman Harry Merrow asked about the cost, saying he believed there was only $5,000 available for the project. Marks said she believes the town has $10,000 because it raised $5,000 for three years and had not spent all of the money.
Marks and Cabral also noted that businesses and homeowners along the shore are getting involved in cleanup efforts and asking for assessments of the milfoil situations in front of their properties. Selectmen said they would review the proposal and make a decision next week.