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'Cancer of the lake' needs constant action

August 12, 2009
MEREDITH — Keeping Kay Kennelly's work alive, Lakes Region residents met last week to discuss how they could get rid of the perennial problem of milfoil infestation.

"Kay sent out 80 letters," said Bob Kennelly of his late wife as he welcomed people to the Milfoil Crisis Committee meeting. "We wondered if people were interested in milfoil any longer, and if we could raise interest. All shoreline properties have milfoil, and it does damage to property value. One of the last things she (Kay) did was working hard at it for people to remember."

Amy Smagula, a freshwater biologist at the Department of Environmental Sciences, updated the residents on progress eradicating the milfoil growing in Fish and Round Coves in Meredith. The coves were treated with 2,4 D, a herbicide that specifically targets milfoil.

Smagula showed the residents a treatment history for milfoil at Fish and Round Cove. Treated every few years with Diquat, a more general herbicide, Smagula said that they would treat the coves, and wait for someone to call up and tell them that the milfoil had returned. With different methods, she said that the goal of the DES is now to use less chemical product, and to keep milfoil at bay longer.

Smagula also said that 2,4 D was much more effective at killing milfoil than Diquat, and that it specifically targeted milfoil, instead of a general assortment of aquatic plants. She told the residents that the state had received a $1 million grant to research chemicals for the eradication of non-native, safe herbicides. With part of this funding, the DES decided to test the differences in the effectiveness of different concentrations of 2,4 D on milfoil control, and differences in the regrowth of milfoil. Picking up the difference, the DES doubled the concentration of 2,4 D in Fish Cove to 200 pounds per acre, while 100 pounds per acre was used on the milfoil growth in Round Cove. Smagula said that data from this test would likely be available in spring of 2010.

"Milfoil has been around here for a while," said Smagula. "The first documented milfoil in New Hampshire was in Moultonboro in 1965. You guys have quite a long history with it."

The coves were treated on June 9 of this year, and Smagula showed residents a chart showing their post-treatment measurements of the concentration of 2,4 D in the water. The concentration spiked in the second week after treatment, normal, Smagula said, as the herbicide is released, before going down.

While this summer's treatment should help bring down the milfoil in the coves, Smagula stressed to residents that they needed to follow up and keep a close watch on the coves. She asked residents to get involved in weed watching programs through the DES, where members can call the state if they spotted milfoil growing in the area.

Meredith Public Works Director Mike Faller said that the town would be working on funding to treat the milfoil in Meredith Bay in 2010. Some of the residents at the meeting noted that the milfoil was in full flower and very thick around Bay Point. Faller said his fear was that after a treatment of the bay, treatments would slide and the milfoil would creep back.

"I can't tell you when the next treatment of Fish and Round Coves will be, but I know we have to do an integrated approach with management, and continue to monitor it; it helps slow the growth," said Smagula.

Stewart Lamprey, who lives near Lees Pond in Moultonboro, told the other residents "it can be done." After five years of treatment, using both 2,4 D and divers with suction harvesting, much of it was gone.

"There's still a little this year," said Lamprey. "We always must be aware of it. We call it the cancer of the lake. We are a success story, but statewide, we are losing the battle."

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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