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Moultonboro, Fish and Game reach agreement on milfoil treatment

August 04, 2010
MOULTONBORO — The town and the Department of Fish and Game have reached an agreement on the treatment of milfoil, which will resume in the fall.

Glenn Normandeau, executive director of the Department of Fish and Game, met with the selectmen during their meeting on Thursday. Previously Normandeau spoke with the Milfoil Committee to discuss the issues.

Fish and Game recommended against the granting of herbicide application permits in certain areas due to the presence of threatened species and what was described as previous management plans that had not been followed. Most recently Fish and Game asked that herbicide treatments not take place in sections of Greens Basin and Lees Pond due to the discovery of bridle shiners, a threatened fish species. Normandeau said this was a recommendation, but Milfoil Committee Chair Peter Jensen said the company doing the application stopped with the understanding the department might take legal action if they proceeded.

On Thursday Normandeau spoke to the Board of Selectmen to explain Fish and Game's position and give an update.

Normandeau told the Board that Fish and Game was against the use of herbicide treatment until around 2005. At that time the department and the Department of Environmental Services created a memorandum of understanding about the use of herbicides as part of an ongoing treatment program that also included non-chemical methods of control. In considering its recommendation to the Department of Agriculture, Normandeau said Fish and Game will now look for an ongoing management plan that has been consistently followed.

Normandeau said Fish and Game has a statutory obligation to protect species on the Threatened or Endangered list.

"That fish is no different from a loon or an eagle or anything that's on that list," Normandeau said.

Normandeau said two instances of the bridle shiner were found in four days. At that time, the company applying the herbicide notified Fish and Game about their scheduled treatment of those areas. Normandeau said abutters must be notified of the application 14 days before it is done, but there is no required time to notify Fish and Game. Normandeau said if the notification had been done "weeks ahead of time" the situation would have been different.

"These fish are small and only live a couple years," Normandeau said. "This year class is important."

Normandeau said bridle shiners like shorelines and wetland swamp areas. When the fish spawn, their eggs stick to any weeds in the area, including milfoil. If the milfoil was killed in those areas, the eggs would die as well.

"If we had the sort of coordination we should have had we could have made the adjustment in timing," Normandeau said.

Normandeau sat down with the Milfoil Committee and the two groups explained their positions.

"He essentially said that we should have no problem treating in those areas," Jensen said later, saying the treatment will take place in the fall. The town and the department have also reached an agreement on maintenance too.

"We got the impression that they wouldn't object to the diver suction (harvesting)," Jensen said, which was not the impression the committee had from prior conversations with the state.

Jensen said the state supports getting rid of the milfoil, but not the constant use of herbicide. Jensen said the committee explained it did not want to see constant chemical treatment either and finding a management plan was part of its charge.

"I think he felt better talking with us about (the) overall five-year plan," Jensen said.

Normandeau said he had a meeting with Commissioners George Bald of the Department of Resources and Development, Thomas Burack of the DES, and Lorraine Merrill of the Department of Agriculture. All four agreed with the stance of the DES on milfoil treatment and all made sure they were together on their stances from their different viewpoints.

"We have very good, qualified, committed biologists who are passionate about what they do but might not have that greater overarching view of how the world needs to be seen," Normandeau said.

Town officials and Normandeau agreed that communication was important. Jensen said a letter will be sent saying both Fish and Game and the Milfoil Committee are "on the same page."

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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