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Official says best way to control milfoil is to be proactive

WOLFEBORO - Locals and visitors alike may already know that variable milfoil - an invasive species that can be controlled but not eradicated - has crept into the state's waters.

Why worry about weeds? Amy Smagula, a New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services limnologist and coordinator of the Exotic Species Program, listed many detrimental impacts of invasive species such as Eurasian milfoil in the state.

In a recent presentation hosted by the Lakes Region Planning Commission, Smagula, who serves as a one-person army in the battle against exotic species, said invasive weeds threaten biodiversity, degrade water quality and cause 10 to 20 percent declines in shorefront property values.

Milfoil-infested waters are unappealing - infestations threaten the recreational value of the water body. Tools in the milfoil control toolbox include target-specific herbicide treatment (2,4-D), mechanical removal such as diver assisted suction harvesting (DASH), hydro-raking and mechanical harvesting, diver hand removal, and placement of benthic barriers to block the sunlight and prevent growth.

Many communities use a combination of the above.

"Integrated management is key to long-term success," noted Smagula in her presentation.

Smagula said milfoil control efforts in the Lakes Region tend to be well coordinated on infested water bodies, with several well-organized lake associations, milfoil committees and designated funding sources - such as warrant articles or trusts set aside for milfoil control.

She urged community members to be more proactive and less reactive when it comes to invasive species control.

Kimon Koulet, the executive director of the Meredith-based Lakes Region Planning Commission, said one of the key themes of the presentation is for communities, the state, private and town groups to work together.

"None of these efforts are successful without collaboration," Koulet said.

This season, the state awarded 40 percent match grants to 42 groups for milfoil control around the state. Two of those projects, to combat new infestations in Naticook Lake in Merrimack and Otter Lake in Greenfield, received a 100 percent match. The total state funding for milfoil control efforts is $340,000 this year.

Smagula is managing milfoil control programs in about 40 of the state's 79 infested water bodies.


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