Ossipee – November 13, 2009 — The method of treatment and the cost will be among the points of discussion when Ossipee officials meet on Monday with the state’s exotic species program coordinator to discuss how to address the new milfoil infestation in Pickerel Cove and the ongoing spread of invasive weeds from Phillips Brook into Leavitt Bay.
The meeting, at Town Hall at 4:30 p.m., was arranged by the Ossipee Conservation Commission so that state limnologist and milfoil specialist Amy Smagula can answer questions about her recommendation to treat the two sites with the herbicide 2,4-D, the state’s current treatment of choice for getting an upper hand on the rapidly spreading menace.
Although Ossipee Lake has been at the forefront of using non-chemical methods to remove milfoil from the lake, state officials believe the extent of the new discovery and the rapid spread of weeds into Leavitt Bay require more aggressive action. Last year, DES made a similar recommendation for Danforth Pond, where hand-pulling and suction harvesting have been successful but haven’t kept pace with the weed’s spread.
Whichever method is used in Ossipee, cost will be an issue.
Last month Smagula told Ossipee Lake Alliance that DES will not be able to subsidize the $9,245 project cost because it has already made its 2010 funding decisions. While the Town of Ossipee has a discretionary milfoil control fund, the cost of the project exceeds what is currently available and the fund won’t be replenished until voters agree to do so at Town Meeting in March.
That lag could possibly delay treatment of the weeds until 2011 because the state’s required 90-day permitting and notification process might extend the implementation date beyond the chemical application window of late May to mid-June. In January, a scheduled $14,000 2-4,D project for Danforth Pond was postponed to 2011 for similar reasons of timing.
State funding for milfoil control has steadily declined in recent years, leaving lake communities stuck with an ever-increasing bill. While the N.H. Legislative Aquatic Species Committee held a “Milfoil Summit” this summer and is discussing vastly increased funding levels, meaningful state assistance remains months and likely years away. Meanwhile, the cost to lake communities continues to rise.
In a preliminary analysis of milfoil costs for the lake, Ossipee Lake Alliance director David Smith said the new control project will bring total expenses for the Ossipee Lake system to around $145,000. The state has paid just 16% of that amount.
In the Town of Ossipee, an estimated $15,500 has been spent to date to control milfoil in Phillips Brook, Leavitt Bay and Portsmouth Cove, of which 38% was paid by the state. If the current project is approved, the state’s contribution toward total costs in Ossipee will decline to 28%.
Smith says DES has not contributed to Ossipee’s milfoil control costs since 2005 when the Alliance arranged for the agency to pay half of the state’s first test of divers as an alternative to chemicals in Phillips Brook and Leavitt Bay. Divers have continued to harvest weeds from that part of the lake annually and are paid through the town’s milfoil fund.
Smith cautioned that the Alliance’s estimates are preliminary and that information on local payments is still incomplete. He said he believes another $30,000 has been spent in Ossipee and Freedom that hasn’t yet been added to the tally. If so, that would bring the grand total of all costs to around $175,000 since 1992.
Smith said he hopes to have a complete accounting of costs in time for a multi-community meeting on the milfoil issue that is being organized for January by the Ossipee Conservation Commission.