News

No boat ban at Amherst’s Baboosic Lake

Thursday, September 4, 2014

By KATHY CLEVELAND

Staff Writer

AMHERST – The public beach at Baboosic Lake will not be closed to boaters, despite the risk of milfoil.

The invasive weed was discovered in a cove north of the town beach in June, and local volunteers have been working with the Department of Environmental Services to eradicate it.

A resident of the lake area recently asked selectmen to close all public boat access at the town beach as part of the prevention and eradication efforts.

“Obviously it’s in everyone’s best interest” to keep milfoil out of the lake, Chairman Dwight Brew said at the Aug. 25 board meeting, but the town beach is the only public access to the water. “It would be a shame to close it off.”

The other four selectmen agreed and also said a ban on boats would be difficult or impossible to enforce.

Milfoil, which can spread quickly, is typically brought in by boats, but until this year the lake has been free of the weed.

However, in June, a resident spotted the nuisance plant at Washer Cove, on the west side of the lake and north of the town beach.

They contacted the Baboosic Lake Homeowners Association, which then contacted the state Department of Environmental Services.

The state and volunteers removed most of it – in July one of the volunteers reported that about 60 pounds of the weeds were removed – but Town Administrator Jim O’Mara told selectmen it has been “creeping back little by little.”

Four lake residents who are certified divers, plus a number of volunteer “weed watchers” have been doing “a yeoman’s effort,” he said, to find and remove milfoil, but there is no indication that boats using the town beach brought in the weed.

O’Mara read a report of the 1971 special town meeting when residents voted to spend $67,500 to buy the land and building and said barring boats would be contrary to their wishes.

Board members agreed the voters would not have wanted to make the lake a private reserve for homeowners.

Milfoil is “tremendously invasive and renders” a water body “useless for recreation,” O’Mara said, but there are better ways the town can help with the eradication effort.

All boaters are being asked to check their boats, especially their propellers and trailer before they bring them to the lake.

A Baboosic Lake Working Group has been meeting to discuss various lake issues and will bring selectmen recommendations, he said.

The committee was formed last spring after lake residents complained about the new rowing club’s use of the lake and its plan to build a boathouse.

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

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