Brookline seeks help in its war on milfoilBy NANCY BEAN FOSTER
Union Leader Correspondent
March 17. 2013 10:17PM
BROOKLINE - For the past few years, the town has been successfully running a Lake Host Program to help keep the invasive milfoil plant from taking over Lake Potanipo. A dry season last year gave the plants a head start for this year, however, and a lack of volunteers to run the program is putting it at risk.
Now the town is reaching out to the public for help.
"We had a really, really good couple of years," said Kristen Austin, secretary for the Brookline Conservation Commission. "But with the lack of volunteers, if we have a Lake Host Program at all this year we'll be lucky."
The Lake Host Program, funded by the New Hampshire Lakes Association, posts folks at boat ramps around the state to ensure that their vessels aren't carrying any milfoil or other exotic plants that can quickly invade a body of water, killing off native species and altering the habitat of the lake.
"Exotic aquatic plant infestations in lakes and ponds are undesirable because they make recreation in and on the water dangerous and unpleasant, disrupt the ecological balance of these water bodies, reduce shoreline property values, and are difficult and expensive to control," Austin said.
The lake hosts, as they're called, are trained to identify exotic plants, which they bag and tag and send to laboratories to identify. By knowing what's growing in New Hampshire's lakes, programs to eradicate invasive species can be implemented. Brookline will be actively treating the milfoil problem this year, said Austin, but what the program needs right now is a leader who will volunteer to take over the management of the program.
"We had a group that was really, really gung ho, but lives changed and it fell off the side of the mountain," said Austin. "We really need someone to come and run the program."
The management position is unpaid, although there are stipends paid to the lake hosts who do the sampling, said Austin. So ultimately, the manager position would need to be someone with a strong sense of community service and desire to help the environment.
The position requires a lot of paperwork and documentation, sending samples to the lab and making sure the lake hosts are following instructions.
This year is really important for the Lake Host Program because the dry season caused a major setback in milfoil eradication last year.
"The weather just created the perfect environment for the milfoil to spread, so even though we treated it, we're still back to where we were when we started the program three years ago," said Austin. "Our lake is being overrun with milfoil."
For more information, contact Kristen Austin 673-8855, ext. 216. She can also be reached at Kristen@brookline.nh.us.