[Editor’s Note: As Ossipee Lake Alliance and the conservation commissions of Ossipee, Freedom and Effingham continue to work on a comprehensive approach to milfoil control, we look at how another lake community is handling the challenge. Moltonborough’s approach is notable for its establishment of an ongoing Milfoil Control Trust as well as the scope of the challenge it faces].
Moultonborough — February 6 — 2010 — The town with the greatest amount of lakefront land in the state is preparing to do battle with the aquatic weed milfoil in a big way. Following a lengthy debate on Thursday, Moultonborough selectmen voted unanimously to support a petitioned warrant article for Town Meeting that seeks to raise $200,000 to chemically treat the noxious weed that can grow up to an inch a day.
The purpose of the Milfoil Control Trust Fund is the ongoing management of the exotic weed in the town’s waterways. It designates the selectmen as agents to expend under rules and regulations to be promulgated. The town’s advisory budget committee also voted unanimously Thursday night to support the measure at Town Meeting, March 13.
“I’m convinced this initiative is the most effective thing you can do this year to help improve the economy,” said Peter Jenson, chair of the town’s milfoil committee.
He estimated that 80 to 90 percent of the town’s businesses rely on traffic generated by the community’s high-quality water resources.
The committee worked with the N.H. Department of Environmental Services to develop a budget and proposed treatment plan that would allow for a full-scale war against the aquatic plant that can clog swimming areas, foul boat props and lower lakefront property values.
Moultonborough currently has one of the worst infestations of milfoil on Lake Winnipesaukee, according to Jensen who said the state’s last survey recorded 201 acres of the leafy green plant in the inner section of Moultonborough Bay alone.
The proposed $200,000 would allow treatment for two growth cycles of the plant – spring and fall – to help curb its continued propagation, Jensen explained.
Karel Crawford, chair of the five-member board of selectmen, initially said she favored putting $100,000 in the fund, stressing that she represents all town residents, including those who do not own waterfront land.
Jensen argued that everyone in the community has a stake in high water quality, noting the town of 5,000 residents has three public boat launches and as many beaches. Crawford ultimately voted to support the $200,000 amount.
Meanwhile, Selectman Ed Charest stressed that milfoil is not the only thing degrading the water quality of the Big Lake. He noted the local planning board is proposing two zoning amendments regarding storm water management and groundwater protection that are key to helping improve local water quality. He urged members of the milfoil committee to lobby townspeople to support those proposed amendments as well.
Several other petitioned warrant articles are now on the town warrant, seeking to collectively raise some $28,000 for milfoil treatment in various areas of the lake as well as on Lee’s Pond.
Selectman Joel Mudgette said he would propose from the floor of Town Meeting that the warrant article seeking to establish the Milfoil Control Trust Fund be taken up first by voters. If it is approved, the other articles would be tabled, allowing funding for all the milfoil treatment to be expended from the trust fund, he explained. However, if voters nix the $200,000 request, the other articles could still be acted on, he explained.