Ossipee — June 24, 2012 — An updated report commissioned by the Freedom-based non-profit Ossipee Lake Alliance found that the State of New Hampshire is funding only 11 percent of the total cost of invasive milfoil control measures.
Ossipee Lake Alliance director Bob Reynolds gave a presentation, “Controlling Milfoil and Other Invasive Species: How Are We Going to Pay for It,” during the group’s annual Lake Representatives Forum at the Ossipee Town Hall Saturday morning. About 50 people attended, including State Reps. Harry Merrow, R-Ossipee, and Mark McConkey, R-Freedom, as well as members of the region’s lake associations and the Freedom and Ossipee conservation commissions.
Reynolds said the survey update was intended to estimate how much was spent to control variable milfoil infestations in New Hampshire water bodies each year from 2009 to 2011, to identify funding sources, and to find out what measures worked and which ones failed. For the update to last year’s report, OLA collected data on 43 of 63 lakes — or 68 percent — regarding 2011 funding and expenditures.
Total expenditures for milfoil control rose from $745,000 in 2010 to $794,000 in 2011, more than triple the $250,000 spent in 2009, according to the survey. Of the $794,000 spent in 2011, the State’s portion was $90,000; municipalities raised $347,000, and $357,000 was raised by private groups, individuals and businesses.
“In private funding, I see some really innovative things people are doing to raise money, like bake sales, yard sales, dive parties and direct mail. One group even has a gambling night. There are a lot of different approaches to bringing in money,” said Reynolds.
An effort to increase State funding for milfoil control by raising boat registrations fee by $10 each failed in the Legislature in 2010.
“There’s no money. ‘Tax’ and ‘fee’ are dirty three-letter words,” Reynolds said. “The bill was pretty much dead on arrival. Nobody was going to raise any fees,” he added.
“It might be time to try this again. I haven’t found anyone who said ‘No, I won’t register my boat,’ if the fee went up $10,” Reynolds said.
The state Department of Environmental Services Exotic Species Program, funded by $7.50 from each New Hampshire boat registration, allocates, per statute, $4 for prevention and research; $3 for administration, education, supplies and milfoil control; and 50 cents for the Clean Lakes Program. From 2009 to 2011, NHDES funding increased 50 percent overall and helped fund 31 projects in 2011. However, funding dropped from 24 percent in 2009 to 11 percent in 2011 for total funding for milfoil control. Reynolds said NHDES has only one Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting unit with two divers available for part-time performance of milfoil control activities.
Aside from spending levels, the survey found that 48 percent of communities with milfoil-infested water bodies are not doing anything to control the weed. On top of that, 10 of 11 milfoil-infested rivers are not monitored or managed by towns or groups.