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Lake Host Update

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

Before we received the 2020 grant, we had begun planning for a busy year monitoring the boat launch. That said, we had no idea just how busy this past summer would be! Boat launch traffic was unprecedented! By June 8th we had done 1,204 inspections! To put that in perspective, in 2019, we monitored the launch well into September with our volunteers in order to attain the needed 1,500 inspections to receive a larger grant. In the summer of 2020, we had surpassed that number before the July 4th weekend!

We received our grant of $2,200 in May which we matched for a total of $4,400, for the specific purpose of paying those Lake Hosts who were not volunteers. Training this year was a one hour webinar, and before Memorial Day Weekend, we were ready to go. Cindi Harrington was kept busy when 2 hosts she had just hired, told her they were unable to work. So it was back to the drawing board to fill those positions. We completed the season with 5 paid staff and 6 volunteers.

We were able to cover the boat launch 5 days a week, beginning with afternoons on Thursdays, Fridays and Mondays, and 7am to 7pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Several people asked at our annual meeting if we could staff the launch 7 days a week, or at least more hours. Our response is that we’d love to, but we need more willing to step up and take either a paid position or volunteer one. The job isn’t difficult. It just takes an eye to look for hitchhiking weeds on motors, or trailers, engage in conversation, and inform non-motorboat visitors that these weeds and seeds can also ride in the wells of kayaks and canoes if they are not turned over and their insides also washed between outings. I have participated in the Lake Host program for 4 years, and personally find the training each year to be informative even for my own use.

One challenge we had this year was the increase in “blow up” watercraft because of their convenience regarding storage. But people would deflate them, fold them up and leave them that way until they went out again, usually to a different lake. Then they opened them up, still wet inside, harboring weeds and seeds from their previous lake. Due to COVID19, we could not hand out material explaining “Clean, Drained and Dry” to boaters. This made educating new boaters, especially those who have these new blow-up type of vessels difficult and repetitive. However, that education is crucial to keeping weeds out of the lake. Although we cannot force someone to leave, 2 people did agree to go home and clean their boats after I told them they put our lake in danger if launched. They were covered in mud and weeds and the last lake they were in was Pawtuckaway, which has a thick infestation of variable milfoil. Another concern is people parking on the causeway to launch blow up craft thus bypassing Lake Hosts. While this was more than likely because the parking lot was full (another challenge of this year), it underscores another danger of invasive weeds or larvae being introduced in the lake because Lake Hosts have not inspected (or coached) the boaters. I have found that most boaters heed our warnings and take our message well. And it is an important message, if we are to minimize the threat of spreading non-native plants and animal larvae.

Illegal Jetski use, (as opposed to Personal Watercraft), was also up this year. A jetski is defined as being less than 13’ long and seating 2 or fewer people. Personal watercraft, (PWC), seat 3 or more riders and are over 13.’ PWC’s are legal on Swains Lake. Jetskis are not. Fortunately, Marine Patrol takes care of most of these issues for us.

As the season wound down after Labor Day, we completed our 3,940 inspections for the season. This is a concerning 240% jump over the previous year. We were not the only lake to see this. All lakes in NH saw large increases because of long distance travel restrictions due to the COVID19. And that means we need to be vigilant. According to the NHLA, Fundy Cove on milfoil-laden Pawtuckaway Lake, got between 230 and 280 inspections EACH DAY, for an increase of over 3,000 boaters for the season. A lot of local townspeople use both lakes. Our Lake Hosts are the front line defense against Milfoil, Zebra Mussel, Spiny Water Flea, Asian Clam, or any of the other non-native weeds or larvae, that are found in too many lakes and rivers in surrounding towns.

If you would like to participate in the Lake Host program please leave your name and contact information with your area representative. All area representatives are mentioned on the diagram in this newsletter. Or email Cindi Harrington directly at: <>, and leave a message that you are interested.

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