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Throughout the summer and into the fall, divers pulled wilted Milfoil off the bottom of Sunrise Lake in Middleton in an effort to protect it from being taken over by the exotic, aquatic invasive weed. As the state considers whether to use herbicides again, about a dozen local volunteers keep watch for new outbreaks. (JOHN QUINN PHOTO)
MIDDLETON — Although divers found a milfoil "infestation" around the cove near Pinkham Road, state and local officials are confident they made progress against the invasive plant in Sunrise Lake this year.
"I think we got a good handle on it this time — it won't be completely eradicated," said John Mullen, who serves on the invasive species mitigation sub-committee of the Conservation Commission.
After the state treated the lake with herbicide, Mullen said divers from AB Aquatics Inc., based in Henniker, returned to pull wilted milfoil from the lake bed six different times this summer.
Most recently, Mullen said the divers targeted the area around Pinkham Road, where they found heavy infestation of milfoil — which spreads and takes over waterways across the region. He added they came back Oct. 7 to the shallow water "to find the largest bulbs they had ever seen in the state."
"It was so infested, their hose wouldn't work," Mullen said.
Bob Patterson, owner of AB Aquatics, said his company — which employs up to eight divers in the summer season — operates throughout the state.
He said the roots must be removed to ensure they don't return.
"It makes our job more difficult," Patterson said, adding they strive to remove the whole milfoil plant.
Mullen said the divers pulled 13 ba0gs — which are probably about two bushels apiece — out of the water during a four-hour period.
Mullen said they also targeted Warren's Cove — near Lakeshore Drive — "which is probably where the (milfoil) problem started."
Based on the observations of local volunteers, divers from AB Aquatics targeted several coves and areas that were being threatened by milfoil this summer. As a result, divers removed 410 gallons of wilted milfoil from the bottom of the lake after the state used herbicide to treat about 20 acres of the 247-acre site.