News

Milfoil found at Amherst’s Baboosic Lake

Thursday, July 17, 2014

By KATHY CLEVELAND

Staff Writer

AMHERST – Divers from the state Department of Environmental Services recently removed invasive milfoil from Baboosic Lake, and the lake’s homeowners’ association is urging residents to be on the lookout for more.

On June 21, a resident discovered the nuisance plant at Washer Cove on the west side of the lake, north of the Amherst Town Beach, and he contacted the Baboosic Lake Homewners Association. The association called DES.

Since then, divers have gone into the lake twice as part of a “rapid response” program of prevention and eradication, said Amy Smagula, an exotic aquatic plant expert with the DES.

Luckily the infestation was spotted very early, she said.

“If nothing is done, in three to five years they’d have a very hefty infestation, covering several acres,” she said.

Everyone is being asked to stay out of Washer Cove, especially near the shore, and a large area has been roped off to keep boaters, swimmers and anglers away. All boaters who use the lake are being asked to check their boats, especially their propellers and trailers, before they bring them into the lake.

That is the prevention part. Volunteer divers, including Tara Johnson, a DES-trained volunteer “weed watcher” who lives near the lake, is involved in eradication; helping the DES spot and control infestations.

Johnson and her husband Mark were returning from a training program last week.

About 60 pounds of milfoil were removed, Johnson said in an email last week.

“Although the harvests were successful, variable milfoil can grow an inch or more per day. Since the harvests, several new plants have been located and marked and will be removed by a BLA diver next week.”

Divers spent most of their time near the Washer Cove boat launch, and buoys have been installed to mark milfoil to be avoided, because if a propeller chops up plants in the area, milfoil can spread throughout the lake.

“Washer Cove is very active,” Smagula said. There is a lot of boating and water skiing, “so the chance of fragmentation and migration is great.”

One volunteer SCUBA diver will be diving on Mondays throughout the summer, and the other two will go out as needed, Smagula said.

“Even though the infestation was caught extremely early, much earlier than most lakes, Johnson wrote in her email, “it will require consistent coordination between the Baboosic Lake Association, DES and residents on the lake, to contain, or totally eradicate the milfoil (which is the goal) over the next couple of years.

Anyone who sees any weeds that look suspicious or have any questions about milfoil, contact Johnson at: tara@naturedigger.com or call or text: 566-5752 or 424-6121.

Variable milfoil looks like a squirrel’s tail in the water, with thick tubular shape, and feather-like leaves. It can be as short as one foot tall to several feet tall up through the water column, growing in depths from one foot to 10 feet in your lake, according to the DES website.

Smagula said other nearby lakes and ponds with a milfoil problem include Naticook Lake and Horseshoe Pond in Merrimack, Flints Pond in Hollis and Robinson and Otternic ponds in Hudson.

According to the DES, researchers believe milfoil was introduced from one of the southern New England states, part of a “stowaway” fragment attached to a boat or trailer.

“Milfoil can live out of water for many hours attached to a trailer and can quickly rebound to full life once back in the water,” according to the website. Because it is non-native plant, it has few, if any, enemies to keep it under control.

DES also warns that most aquatic plants are harmless and important to a lake’s ecosystem.

Baboosic also has a milfoil look-alike weed called bladderwort, but bladderwort is a harmless native plant and has greenish or blackish looking “seeds.”

To see photos, go to des.nh.gov/organization/
divisions/water/wmb/exoticspecies/plant_id_help.htm
.

Variable milfoil can grow from shore out to depths as far down as sunlight can penetrate, and it is not the only destructive aquatic plant in New Hampshire.

On the DES website are photos and descriptions of “The Frightful Fourteen,” plants that are prohibited in New Hampshire due to their ability “to choke surface waters, harm native vegetation and wildlife, impact recreation, and lower property values.”

Contact the state’s Biology Bureau at 271-3503 for the latest information on water bodies where invasive weeks are a problem.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.

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