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Funds to Fight Exotic Weeds

By: Wendi Tremblay

An opinion written in the May 14th edition of the Union Leader, emphasized the need for more state funding that would be specifically earmarked for fighting exotic, (invasive), weeds in NH lakes and rivers.

FAIR FUNDING FOR INVASIVES CONTROL, (FFIC), headed by Bob Reynolds, has been working to raise awareness throughout communities in the state of the dangers these invasive weeds pose to our water bodies. These weeds will not only affect the water quality, but can also potentially hurt our state and local economy if the weeds become too thick, and tourists decide to vacation in neighboring states because of it. Property values in affected areas are also at risk.

FFIC is currently attempting to raise funds through legislation, to pay for control of invasive species, including variable milfoil. House Bill 292 is aimed at doing this. The bill would increase, by $2.00, fees on boat registrations, and the added revenue would be specifically earmarked for control of exotic weedsl, nothing else.

In his writing, Reynolds states that “one of the most invasive species is variable milfoil. 70% of lakes in NH are infested with it. When a lake becomes overgrown with milfoil, recreational activities are nearly impossible. Controlling milfoil could cost up to $1.3 million annually.

Although the State of NH owns the water bodies, the vast majority of funds currently used to attack invasive weeds comes from taxpayers in the affected towns. Therefore, those who live in other communities, own boats, and enter our lakes, do not share in the burden of controlling these weeds once they occur. A good example of this is the town of Moultonborough, on Lake Winnipesaukee, which is a milfoil-infested lake. Local taxpayers currently allocate $200,000 each year at town meeting, to control the milfoil along their shoreline. The State of NH only funds about 18% of the needed funds to eradicate invasive species.

If milfoil, or other exotic weeds are discovered, quick action is needed before it grows out of control and affects the quality of the lake. This quick action is expensive. Divers are called in to hand-pull the weeds. Then specially equipped boats suction the plants divers missed. They then apply environmentally friendly treatments. If all this is not started early, it becomes more expensive and less effective to control.

According to Reynolds, nearly 100,000 boats are registered each year in NH. A $2.00 increase for each boat could bring close to $200,000 each year to the balance of funds dedicated to fighting milfoil and other exotic weeds. He states that 88% of those responding to a recent survey on weed control, said they support this small registration increase as long as it is dedicated solely for invasive weed control. This is exactly what HB 292 is set up to dot, and FFIC is hoping that the legislature passes it.

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