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Residents rally behind proposal for milfoil control funding

November 04, 2009
MOULTONBORO — Town residents are rallying behind the formation of a new committee and the proposed creation of a reserve fund to control milfoil.

Peter Jensen with Conservation Commission Chair Bob Clark and other residents made a presentation to the Board of Selectmen on a proposal for addressing milfoil infestation in Lake Winnipesaukee and other town water bodies.

Jensen said Amy Smagula, Exotic Aquatic Species Coordinator with the Department of Environmental Services, mapped out around 200 acres of milfoil in the 68 miles she examined.

Jensen said that of the properties on the town's current $2.85 billion valuation, 71 percent are on the shoreline and 16 percent have water access. The properties that are not located on the water have owners that still utilize the lake's resources. Studies have shown that valuations in towns with milfoil infestation can go down between 10 and 20 percent. A drop of 7 percent in the property value due to milfoil could mean a reduction in revenue of $1 million, with that figure tripling if revenue drops 13 percent.

Clark helped form a milfoil committee to address the management of milfoil in Moultonboro and around Lake Winnipesaukee. Jensen said the committee is asking that a milfoil reserve fund be formed in 2010 and money be deposited for the treatment and management of milfoil. The typical cost of a state-approved method of treatment is between $80,000 and $91,000. The committee is requesting that $100,000 be put into the fund to support the effort at the town level.

"Protecting the town's water resources was one of the highest-ranked objectives," Jensen said.

The group has been coordinating efforts with the DES, and town residents recently attended a milfoil conference in Concord.

Selectman Betsey Patten said the group can "spearhead" the effort and take a position for leadership for the other communities as milfoil spreads throughout the lake.

"I think now that we have a movement and evaluation of an interest to get together a plan for the Big Lake," Patten said.

"We have to get started and we really need to get started this coming year," Jensen said. While communities and individual associations have taken interest in controlling milfoil, "There are a lot of orphaned areas of the lake that no one's going to spend their money to address."

Jensen said the money in the reserve fund can be used for a greater town effort but can also be available to smaller control projects that need it. The funds would also go toward control and prevention of re-infestation, as total eradication is near impossible.

"The cost of not doing it seems to be much higher than the cost of doing it," Jensen said.

Karin Nelson of the Lee's Pond Association said the hope is to have a plan of attack and perhaps a vacuum so that milfoil starts being removed from the pond, which has a heavy infestation.

"It's getting much more efficient than it was a few years ago," Nelson said.

"We know there's a lot more out there than 200 acres that they're talking about and it's going to take real money," said Stewart Lamprey.

Selectman Ed Charest said the effort is going to take funding, organization, and education to manage the issue.

"If you can do that I think you can pretty much control it," Charest said.

The fund's creation will need to be an article on the 2010 town warrant, an article selectmen said should be a petition article. Board members said including an item that size in the budget would likely not be the best course, especially with economic constraints and concerns over the future of the town's role in school funding. Board members said they would support the article.

Other associations have or have expressed interest in turning in petition articles for milfoil control and the matter of having a blanket article for all areas was discussed.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Town of Alexandria
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