Freedom—August 27, 2019—The planned removal of invasive milfoil from the Danforth Ponds this summer was proceeding on schedule when professional divers pulling the weeds noticed invasive species growing outside the plan’s GPS coordinates.
On August 12, the state returned to conduct a new survey and found there was significantly more spread than previously uncovered. GPS coordinates taken at the site revealed the size of the additional infestation to be 32.9 acres, spread across multiple areas but mainly centered in Huckins Pond, the river leading out of that body of water, and Upper Danforth Pond and the channel leading south to lower Danforth Pond.*
Divers can effectively remove a lot of weeds in a lot of situations, but a mass of weeds that size is most effectively addressed with herbicides. Trouble is, there’s not enough money left in this year’s budget for treatment this season.
Ned Kucera, who heads Freedom’s Aquatic Invasive Species Committee, said the estimate to treat the new find is approximately $24,000. Although it’s late in the season, he said there’s enough time to file the paperwork and issue the required public notice for an herbicide treatment this fall.
But the Committee doesn’t have the money to pay for it. The annual milfoil control budget was completed and funded months ago, and the work is well underway. Last week, Kucera took the funding issue to the Freedom Select Board, but an extra $24,000 was not to be found.
The Danforth Pond dilemma illustrates the challenges faced by Kucera and his counterparts in Ossipee and Effingham. While the process of working with the state to plan and fund annual milfoil control efforts has become something of a well-oiled machine, milfoil is the ultimate spoiler, being elusive and quick to spread.
This summer also saw the discovery of milfoil hiding in the Westward Shores boat lagoon in July. That finding resulted in a state survey that uncovered an even larger infestation in the Westward Shores marina, which was followed by a report of a new find in the Hodgson Shore area.
It’s possible the Westward Shores milfoil can be addressed by divers this season. The state has yet to confirm whether the weeds at Hodgson Shore are invasive.
*To avoid confusion, we use the traditional names for Huckins Pond, Upper Danforth Pond, and Lower Danforth Pond for the bodies of water running north to south.