Ossipee — August 18, 2006 — Ossipee’s selectmen this week approved a new round of milfoil removal in Phillips Brook and the area where it enters Leavitt Bay. At the same time, they expanded the effort to encompass the shoreline of western Leavitt Bay and all of Portsmouth Cove, which is on the channel connecting Broad Bay.
The work will be performed by New England Milfoil, which specializes in using professional divers to hand-pull the fast-growing invasive weed as an alternative to chemical treatments.
The town’s approval came a week after New England Milfoil’s founder, Cliff Cabral, and Susan Marks of Ossipee Lake Alliance briefed officials on the results of last year’s removal effort, which was funded jointly by the town and the N.H. Department of Environmental Services (DES). About 25% of the milfoil in Phillips Brook returned this year, according to Cabral and Marks, but only about 5% of the plants in the area where it enters Leavitt Bay.
Milfoil can be controlled but cannot be eradicated, and specialists differ about whether pulling it out by the roots or using chemicals is the best way to keep it in check. The town hired Cabral last year after chemicals failed to stop the steady advance of weeds from Phillips Brook into the bay.
State Pilot Program
Last year, Ossipee Lake Alliance helped the town obtain an agreement from DES to pay for half of the $10,000 cost of weed removal and make the project the first state-sponsored test of diving as a control method. More than five tons of milfoil was removed from the Ossipee sites from late June through Labor Day last year.
Marks said she is optimistic about last year’s results, but she cautioned that that it will be a number of years before state and local officials can draw conclusions about diving’s effectiveness.
In addition to the Ossipee initiative, Cabral’s divers have removed more than eight tons of milfoil from Danforth Pond in Freedom during the past three years. Elsewhere in the state, the town of Wolfeboro is using divers to hand-pull the dense milfoil that has for years clogged Lake Winnipesaukee’s Back Bay.
Cabral and Marks asked Ossipee Lake boaters to watch for diving flags and keep a safe distance for the protection of the divers. They also asked near-by residents to collect and dispose of milfoil fragments that wash up on the shore during the coming weeks.