Ossipee — June 5, 2011 — Invasive variable milfoil is a permanent problem for New Hampshire. Yet 40 years after it was found in state waters, and five years after a UNH/Antioch study warned it poses a significant economic and recreational threat, the state still lacks a long-term plan to pay for the ever-growing cost of controlling the indestructible weed.
Instead, funding remains an ad hoc process relying on a patchwork of public and private initiatives, many of which require annual voter approval. Moreover, each year more of the cost of milfoil control is shifted from Concord to towns like Freedom and Ossipee.
How did local lake communities end up being financially responsible for removing milfoil from state-owned lakes? What is the true cost of milfoil control around the state? Who is paying and who isn’t? And what are our elected officials doing to create a credible plan for the long-term?
Those are among the questions that will be discussed at Ossipee Lake Alliance’s biennial Lake Representatives Forum on June 11. The focal point of the event will be a presentation of the results of a study that the Alliance commissioned to quantify milfoil control spending in the state – a study Alliance Executive Director David Smith says is long overdue.
“We know that each year far more milfoil control money is requested from the state than is available. But we don’t know how the affected lake communities are making up the difference or even if they are,” Smith said. “We think the research study will help elected officials understand the full dimensions of the state’s milfoil problem.”
Locally, the cost to control milfoil in the Ossipee Lake system has surpassed $160,000 according to Alliance Board Member Bob Reynolds, who is managing the milfoil study. Reynolds said the state has paid less than 15% of the total, with town milfoil funds and local contributions covering the rest.
Reynolds said the state’s percentage could go even lower, noting that Hollis Republican State Representative Dick Drisko last November sponsored a bill that would have enabled municipalities to impose a direct fee on shorefront property owners to create a fund dedicated to controlling milfoil on public lakes.
“The bill failed,” Reynolds said, “but that doesn’t mean the idea is dead.”
The Lake Representatives Forum is an event for representatives of the lake’s property owner associations and businesses, state and local elected officials, and representatives from other lake associations around the state. For more information, contact Susan Marks at email@example.com.