May 31, 2012WAKEFIELD — Wakefield selectmen approved $20,500 in invasive species control grants for milfoil control efforts on six of the town's seven lakes at their May 23 meeting.
In order to make sure that grant monies were distributed equitably, the Board of Selectmen had asked the town's lake associations to submit their grant requests by May 1 this year. Five of the associations submitted a joint request through the Acton Wakefield Watershed Alliance (AWWA) and the Belleau Lake Property Owners Association (BLPOA) submitted its own request separately.
The association representing property owners at the seventh lake, the Balch Lake Imprvoement Committee, did not submit its request in time for the May 23 meeting.
Of the seven lakes, Balch and Belleau Lakes have significant milfoil infestations which both lake associations have been actively attacking for the past few years.
The remaining five lakes Great East Lake, Horn Pond , Lovell Lake, Pine River Pond, and Province Lake have little of no infestation so far and are concentrating their efforts on prevention. Prevention efforts include participating in the Lake Host program, which inspects boats for plant matter at boat launch areas, and weed patrols.
Linda Schier, Executive Director of AWWA and former President of the Great East Lake Improvement Association, presented a joint request from the five lakes for a $9,500 grant from the Town of Wakefield. The request by lake breaks down as follows: Great East Lake, $3,000; Horn Pond, $1,000; Lovell Lake, $3,500; Pine River Pond, $1,000; and Province Lake, $1,000.
Total program costs for the five lakes is $59,625, according to Schier, so the request from Wakefield taxpayers is only 16 percent of the total. Of the remainder, the lake association are contributing $28,000, the State of New Hampshire is contributing $12,700; and the State of Maine and the Town of Acton are contributing $3,000 each (for Great East Lake and Horn Pond).
Schier said that Pine River Pond began participating in the Lake Host program last year but the other four lakes were already involved. A Great East Lake there were 2,200 boat inspections last year with 12 "saves" where invasive species were detected and removed. Lovell Lake had 900 inspections and four saves. Pine River Pond had 115 inspections but no saves yet.
The number of boats on the lakes continues to increase, and those numbers go up the number of plants detected increases as well, Schier reported. Great East Lake and Lovell Lake are monitored seven days a week, due to traffic. "Threats are from visitors, not from lake residents," she said. Most of the work is done by volunteers. "It's a big commitment." The focus of the Lake Host inspection effort is on weekends Friday, Saturday and Sunday when the greatest number of visitors show up.
She said that milfoil, the most common invasive plant, was originally introduced as an aquarium plant. When aquarium owners dumped their aquariums into bodies of water to free their fish, the plant spread. "It grows so fast it deprives other plants of life." She added that is not illegal to sell milfoil or other invasive plants for aquariums.
Town Administrator Teresa Williams reported that the Invasive Species Control funds currently totaled $38,114.47 $18,114.47 carried over from last year plus $20,000 appropriated by voters in March.
Selectman Peter Kasprzyk commented, "It's nice to see Acton is contributing."
Selectman Chair Ken Paul said that Lake Hosts was a great program and added that "Education has gone a long way."
A question arose as to whether seaplanes bring in invasive plants. The answer came that seaplane operators are aware of the issue and that the State of Maine requires an invasive species sticker to operate a seaplane (New Hampshire does not). Two of the five lakes are closed to seaplanes.
Kasprzyk moved and the board approved the requested $9,500 grant.
Valerie Blomstedt, President of the Belleau Lake Property Owners Association (BLPOA), presented her organization's request for an $11,000 grant.
She said originally the request was for $15,000, based on chemically treating a larger area, but divers have been able to see more clearly underwater and thus the area needing treatment has been reduced from 50 acres to 38.
The $11,000 requested is for chemical treatments, which BLPOA has been doing since 2001. In addition, trained volunteer divers pull the weeds where found and they are suctioned into a boat BLPOA built for $7,000. Last year the boat engine had to be replaced.
"Where the divers have gone are swept clean of milfoil," Blomstedt said, but they still have to be vigilant due to washdowns from horse farms and road chemicals that feed plant growth.
BLPOA board member Joe Arnone reported that a pretreatment survey was done, but that it is difficult to come up with an estimate. He said the 38 acres might be high but the state's estimate of 50 acres last fall was much higher. Of the $11,000 cost $1,600 is for state permit.
Selectman Charlie Edwards asked why the Balch Lake request was not combined with the other five. Blomstedt responded, "We have the problem they don't."
The board approved the request, bringing the total granted so far to $20,500 and reducing the fund balance to $17,614.77.