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Lake Host Program Update

Lake Host paid personnel and volunteers conducted 1,636 inspections between Memorial Day and the end of September 2019. This is the most accomplished in a calendar year, and it qualifies us for a slightly larger grant than we had in previous years. This will be of help staffing during summer evenings during the week, as well as weekends past Labor Day, when we typically run out of money to pay the salaried hosts.

Although several salaried hosts do offer to inspect on a volunteer basis following Labor Day weekend, New Hampshire State Law prohibits this. This is even though those Lake Hosts are paid by the NH Lakes Association, not the State. Since funding had run out by Labor Day 2019, we were left with the 5 volunteers we had during the summer, some of whom had gone back to work, and were no longer able to spend time at the launch. Some early autumn weekends are still busy, and it helps to have someone there to monitor incoming boaters.

There are currently 87 lakes in NH that have exotic weeds and animals. Some of these lakes have as many as five of them! The majority are in the southern half of the state. Four of these water bodies also have the invasive Asian Clam. Lake Hosts are the first line of defense against the spread of these exotic weeds into Swains and other lakes. When trained, they get a sheet with a list of affected lakes, and can tailor discussions with entering boaters based on where they have been. Although a threat to larger Northeast lakes is Zebra Mussel, (Lake Champlain being one to have problems with them), these animals can easily enter smaller lakes via boaters emptying their ballasts when they launch on a new lake after being on an affected one. One of the questions asked this year by Lake Hosts is whether or not the particular boat had a ballast, and if so, was it empty. Fortunately, since most boats with ballasts are larger, and Swains is a smaller lake, we were rarely faced with this.

Transient boaters, (those who come for the day and visit multiple lakes often), are the biggest threat. Rental tenants coming for a week and launching boats that visit other lakes are another. Lake Hosts this year learned to make those who canoe and kayak aware of the ease of spreading exotic weeds by not cleaning out the insides of their vessels. Water that pools can retain seeds from weeds on the paddler’s feet. If they stay wet they stay viable, so after each paddle when the boat is hosed down, turning it over and hosing the inside, seat and all, adds an added layer of protection to uninfected lakes.

Carpet on boat trailers is another culprit, since seeds and animal eggs will stay viable if wet. In many cases, the carpet never dries between lakes visited, making it another primary way to spread unwanted seeds and large of exotic animals. Having rollers the boat rests on instead of carpet is a safer, but more expensive solution.

What anglers do with bait is another issue facing area lakes. Never dump it into a lake when finished, unless it came from that lake! Invasive animals can easily be spread if anglers bring bait from one lake to another, and empty the container holding it into the last lake of the day that they visit.

It is NH state law that boats be cleaned upon leaving a lake, so that they are “Clean, Drained, and Dry” when entering the next lake. This is still considered the best protection. Dry for 5 days or more is best. It is now thought that bleach can stimulate some invasive animals to release their eggs, so good old soap and hot water is still best to wash boats with. While in transit, it is also law that in addition to being clean, the drain plug is open, to allow water that could be harboring invasive nymphs or eggs to flow out.

The Lake Host Program is in its 18th year here in NH. During that time, Lake Hosts across the State have made 1,598 “saves” off of boats entering 53 lakes! (A “save” is the removal of exotic weeds or seeds). Lake Hosts here at Swains have sent in suspicious samples, but we are fortunate so far that none have been found to be invasive. In February, our President Deb Winter, and Lake Host Manager, Cindi Harrington will fill out the paperwork, to obtain our grant once more. We believe the Lake Host Program is an instrumental first line of defense to attempt to keep exotics out of Swains Lake. Anyone interested in joining our team, please contact Cindi Harrington at (603) 988-6051. Training is only one night, and now can be done on a webinar. The work is not difficult, in fact we have many good conversations with boaters each day. All the while watching out for little hitchhikers we don’t want here.

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