CONTACT:
Jane Vachon, NHF&G: (603) 271-3211
Jody Connor, DES: (603) 271-3414
Amy Smagula, DES: (603) 271-2248
June 30, 2005


Boaters: Help STOP AQUATIC HITCHHIKERS

CONCORD, N.H. -- If you enjoy boating in New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department urges you to help stop the spread of invasive aquatic plants and animals by checking your equipment for milfoil and other nuisance species before you launch. Aquatic nuisance species can easily be transported on boats, motors, trailers, fishing equipment, bait buckets, diving gear and other recreational equipment.

New Hampshire has already had one close call with an aquatic nuisance species earlier this year, when zebra mussels were detected during a routine inspection of a boat from Ohio about to be launched into Lake Winnipesaukee. There could be many such near misses that we are not aware of, says Amy Smagula, a limnologist with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) who coordinates the Exotic Species and Clean Lakes programs.

"Aquatic hitchhikers" can quickly take over lakes and ponds, choking waterways with explosive growth, fouling intake and discharge structures, harming native plants and animals, and possibly lowering lakefront property values. Once established in a waterbody, aquatic nuisance species are nearly impossible to eradicate.

New Hampshire already has seven different species of exotic aquatic weeds in its waterways, and others, like hydrilla, lurk near our borders. In all, 64 New Hampshire lakes, ponds and rivers are infested to date, according to Jody Connor, Director of the Department of Environmental Services (DES) Limnology Center, which tests biological samples from freshwater lakes around the Granite State.

"There's no question that milfoil is one of the greatest threats to the quality of New Hampshire's lakes, ponds, and waterways," said Connor. "We want boaters to check their boats, motors and trailers for milfoil before they launch, as automatically as they put the boat plug in."

Some 400 "Lake Host" volunteers are stationed at boat launches at more than 50 New Hampshire lakes to provide a courtesy inspection and educate boaters on how to prevent the spread of exotic species. Working through the New Hampshire Lakes Association, under a grant from DES, these volunteers last year inspected more than 31,000 boats being launched into state waters. Amy Smagula, who coordinates the Lake Host program for DES, credits the Lake Hosts with 16 "saves" in 2004 and already with 2 saves this year.

Take the pledge to protect New Hampshire waters by following these guidelines for preventing the spread of exotic weeds and other aquatic nuisance species:

  • LOOK for "Warning Signs" for aquatic nuisance species near boat launch sites.

  • HAND-REMOVE all materials (plant or animal) from equipment. Don't throw the material back into the water! Dispose of it far away from the water. Pay special attention to the bunks or rollers where the boat is seated on the trailer.

  • WASH AND DRY all equipment before reuse. Hose off the boat, diving gear or trailer.

  • DRAIN AND FLUSH the engine cooling system and live wells of your boat, your bait buckets and the buoyancy control device from diving equipment that's been in contact with an infested waterbody (to protect against the spread of zebra mussels).

For a list of exotic aquatic weeds regulated within New Hampshire, plus other information on preventing the spread of invasive aquatic species in the state, click here to visit http://www.des.state.nh.us/wmb/exoticspecies.

Find out more about the Lake Hosts and other efforts to stop aquatic nuisance species in New Hampshire click here and download the sample article "Alien Invasion," featured in the March/April 2005 issue of New Hampshire Wildlife Journal.

For more information on what you can do to help prevent the spread of invasive aquatic plants and animals, click here to visit http://www.ProtectYourWaters.net/nh.

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NH Fish and Game Dept.
11 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03301

603-271-3421
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