Keep an Eye Out for Milfoil

Ossipee — July 19, 2007 — Summer is well under way and the lakes are busy with boaters and swimmers and fishermen out to enjoy our lakes. We hope that those people visiting our lakes with their boats have taken the time to learn about the problem of invasive milfoil here and what they can do to help stop its spread.

Sadly, fighting the spread of milfoil has become almost routine in the towns around local lakes. Both Winnipesaukee and Ossipee Lake are troubled by the invasive weed, which clogs waterways and chokes out local plant life. Towns surrounding the lakes have dealt with the problem with everything from pouring herbicides into the waters to hiring divers to carefully pull the plant from selected areas in such a way that they do not allow it to spread.

In addition to Ossipee and Winnipesaukee, Belleau Lake and Balch Lake in Wakefield as well has Squam Lake also have infestations of variable milfoil, and Mountain Pond in Brookfield has Eurasian milfoil in its waters.

After years of trying different approaches while the plant continues to spread on Ossipee Lake, residents here are beginning to see some success, if not in eradicating the weed, at least in stopping its spread in areas that have been treated with diving and harvesting. In recent weeks both Ossipee and Freedom Selectmen have approved funding for divers to continue their work on Ossipee Lake this year.

But that work can only do so much to solve the problem. It is critical to the success of such programs to educate boaters about how to identify and remove plants from their boats, as this has been identified as one of the main ways in which the plant is introduced and spread in new bodies of water.

Local conservation groups and marinas are involved in education and they are doing a good job through the Lake Host program sites at different locations on the lake. But boaters need to take the time to learn about the plant. It should be part of the routine of putting a boat in or taking it out of a waterway to clear it of plant matter. It is important to get all of the plant material off the boat before putting it into a new body of water since part of the problem with milfoil is that the plant can grow from even the smallest piece. Information about this can be found posted on kiosks at popular boat launches on Ossipee Lake.

You can also learn more about the problem of invasive milfoil and what you can do to help on the following websites: www.des.state.nh.us/wmb/ExoticSpecies/index.html and www.nhlakes.org or talk with a Lake Host volunteer stationed at boat launches on busy days.

Keep an Eye Out for Milfoil