Moving Forward on Milfoil Plan

The following is an editorial from the September 2, 2010 edition of the Carroll County Independent.

Ossipee selectmen finally made a decision last week to move forward with one part of milfoil mitigation – diver assisted suction harvesting.

We say “finally” because earlier this summer the board refused to sign a contract with a private, licensed company to apply the herbicide 2,4-D into particularly infested areas of the lake. The herbicide is now widely used in conjunction with other treatments, such as suction harvesting, benthic barriers, and preventive measures like the lake host program, in mitigation plans across the state, including those for Lake Winnipesaukee.

Ossipee selectmen refused to sign the treatment contract for the chemical unless the company obtained signed releases for homeowners with wells close to the treatment area and because the contract had a clause holding the town liable if anything went wrong, according to the board. The delay in moving forward with the chemical treatment we think threw the overall treatment plan out of kilter – with no single cure for milfoil, we’ve heard that the herbicide is an effective weapon in a whole arsenal of treatments such as suction harvesting, barriers, lake host and education programs.

The delay also came as a surprise to some who had attended a thorough and informative presentation from State Limnologist Amy Smagula in late spring. We thought that the presentation addressed many fears and falsehoods about the use of the herbicide to mitigate milfoil as part of a well-rounded plan. Smagula said post-treatment testing shows that the herbicide dissipates quickly. Board members argue that Agent Orange, a defoliant used during the Vietnam War, was thought to be safe, and was found to be harmful to humans.

State Rep. Susan Wiley, D-Sandwich, attended this past week’s Ossipee board meeting to  encourage the board to move forward on milfoil mitigation lest miss an opportunity for additional state funding. She, too, was mystified as to the board’s refusal to sign the contract with Aquatic Control Technology, and that she was “flabbergasted” when she read about the delay in this newspaper.

The board could have – and should have – asked Smagula and/or other state experts, and/or other milfoil committee leaders from neighboring towns, to visit with them and answer all their questions immediately. We thought those questions were answered this spring. The state application process, we believe, already has mechanisms in place to allow homeowners near treatment areas to either sign on or protest the herbicide
application. The application usually takes place in the spring or fall.

If the board had signed the contract, the treatment company would have moved forward with the application, contacted abutters and so forth. Or the board could have outright rejected 2,4-D after holding additional public hearings. Make up its mind one way or another.

If herbicide application was taken out of the five year treatment plan created by the town’s milfoil subcommittee with help from DES and the Ossipee Lake Alliance, we could have adjusted the treatment plan to include additional suction harvesting, hand pulling, benthic barriers, and so forth. The board also could have asked the treatment company to attend another meeting where they could have hashed out the liability worries in public.

Now we’ll have to hope that the suction harvesting completed this week was enough to stunt the growth of the invasive weed until the spring.

Alliance Editor’s Note: What do you think? Take our poll on this issue:


  1. phil moore 14 years ago September 4, 2010

    As usual, State, County, & local officials seem to always be dragging their heels. When will they wake up to the fact that the State’s waterfront properties are probably their most valuable assets and should be protected so that they can collect the relatively high-valued real estate taxes—the single most important revenue source at all levels of NH government.
    That said—when on earth will they be correcting the issue of the 410′ rule. There seems to be no real reason for officials to be dragging their feet regarding this.

  2. Bob 14 years ago September 4, 2010

    2,4-D is perhaps the safest pesticide known to man — it has been widely used for 60+ years with without toxic effects on humans or the environment. When properly applied to lakes, it selectively kills milfoil and does not affect other plant or fish species. It has NEVER been detected in nearby drinking water wells when applied to lakes — after decades of careful monitoring. Experience shows that divers cannot keep up with large, fast-growing infestations of milfoil, and that 2,4-D treatments “knock down” the large infestations so that divers can then control the remaining survivors and stragglers. Wolfeboro has successfully treated all of their heavily infested areas with 2,4-D, and now can control all milfoil with divers — they might never have to treat with pesticides ever again. Our Selectmen need to recognize the facts and act accordingly.

  3. Don 14 years ago September 5, 2010

    I attended the very first Milfoil meeting at the Ossipee Town hall a few years ago. At that meeting the use of the 2,4-D was suggested. The only opposition noted at that meeting was from the property owners on Phillips Brook. It’s a near certainty that the milfoil was introduced into Phillips Brook by the very same property owners that were (and probably still are) in the habit of launching their small boats over their own land on the brook.

  4. Chris 14 years ago September 6, 2010

    We should always be careful and knowledgeable about the use of chemicals in the environment, especially in or near water sources and more often than not I would advocate other preventative and remedial measures. However, this seems to be a moot point. If we don’t stop the milfoil, there will be no lake to enjoy or preserve. To preserve the nation at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln imposed martial law and suspended some basic rights – sometimes to save the body you need to amputate a limb.

  5. atony 14 years ago September 7, 2010

    “It’s a near certainty that the milfoil was introduced into Phillips Brook by the very same property owners that were (and probably still are) in the habit of launching their small boats over their own land on the brook”

    From your statement one must assume that these folks brought their boats to some other infested bodies of water and then returned their boats to Phillips Brook…is that your assertion?

  6. Fred 14 years ago September 11, 2010

    come see what 2-4-D did for Danforth Bay we have our lake back


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