Freedom—February 4, 2019—A bill introduced in the state legislature last week would require the owners of boats registered in other states to obtain an annual $20 invasive species decal in order to use New Hampshire waters. If approved, the measure will generate revenue for milfoil management programs via the state’s Lake Restoration and Preservation Fund.
The bill, HB625-FN, was introduced by State Representative Suzanne Smith of Grafton, who chairs the legislature’s Resources, Recreation and Development Committee. Co-sponsored by the advocacy group NH Lakes (formerly the N.H. Lakes Association), it is the latest effort to develop recurring revenue streams to address the challenges of variable milfoil, the most prevalent form of invasive species that infest the state’s rivers and lakes.
Funding milfoil control is a burden shared between the state and a coalition of lake towns and lake organizations, and studies conducted by Ossipee Lake Alliance have shown a majority of funding comes from non-state sources.
In a new DES report, it is stated that locally-generated grant applications for milfoil control totaled $1.1 million in 2017, of which the state was able to award just $338,789. Those awards were split between 41 separate control programs.
If passed, HB625-FN would be the first major piece of legislation for funding invasive species control since the 2009 law that currently puts $9.50 of every in-state boat registration into the Lake Restoration and Preservation Fund.
According to a NH Lakes press release, the proposed new law is modeled on a similar program in Maine, where some 10,000 out of state boaters pay annually to access state waters. New Hampshire officials assume a similar number of out of state boaters use our state’s waters each year, and estimate $17 of the $20 fee will make it into the milfoil management fund after the cost of managing the program is deducted.
Ossipee Lake Alliance supports HB625-FN as an equitable way to increase the pool of funds available for milfoil control. To lend your support to the measure, contact the Resources, Recreation and Development Committee chair at firstname.lastname@example.org. The first public hearing on the measure will be on Wednesday, February 6, at 10:30 a.m. in Concord. For further information, contact NH Lakes at email@example.com.