Amy Smagula, DES: (603) 271-2248
Jody Connor, DES: (603) 271-3414
Jane Vachon, NHF&G: (603) 271-3211
June 13, 2007
STOP AQUATIC HITCHHIKERS!
CONCORD, N.H. - The aliens are invading! As you're out enjoying recreation on and near New Hampshire's beautiful waters this summer, do your part to keep "aquatic hitchhikers" like variable milfoil from spreading to and threatening the quality of our lakes, rivers and ponds. The N.H. Fish and Game Department and the N.H. Department of Environmental Services (DES) urge you to check 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.
"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 nine different species of exotic aquatic plants in its waterways, and others, like hydrilla, lurk near our borders. In all, 68 New Hampshire lakes, ponds and rivers are infested to date, according to Amy Smagula, DES's Exotic Species Program Coordinator, who tracks the spread of exotic plants around the Granite State.
"Variable milfoil continues to be the number one problem in New Hampshire's waterbodies," says Smagula. She goes on to warn that other species, like fanwort and water chestnut, are also on the move. Lakes, ponds and flowing waters of rivers and streams are also subject to colonization by these species. "Even just a small piece of the plant, nothing more than 2-3 inches in length, is enough to cause a new infestation," says Smagula. "Still, good old-fashioned visual inspection and hand-removal of the plants is enough to prevent a problem."
Some 500 "Lake Host" volunteers are stationed at 82 boat launches at more than 60 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 34,500 boats being launched into state waters. The Lake Host program was credited with 54 "saves" in 2006, and already with 6 saves this year.
STOP AQUATIC HITCHHIKERS! Help 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 plants that are prohibited within New Hampshire, visit the N.H. Department of Environmental Services Exotic Species website at www.des.state.nh.us/wmb/exoticspecies.
Prevention is New Hampshire’s first line of defense against invasive aquatics, and the critical second line of defense is early detection and reporting. Through its volunteer Weed Watcher program, the N.H. Department of Environmental Services takes a proactive approach to exotic plant control by enlisting New Hampshire lake residents, lake associations, anglers and water recreationists to conduct monthly surveys of aquatic vegetation. If new infestations are caught early, low-tech methods like hand pulling can sometimes keep them under control and prevent a whole-lake infestation. To find out more about the Weed Watcher program and how you can get involved, click to visit www.des.nh.gov/wmb/exoticspecies/survey.htm.
For more information on what you can do to help prevent the spread of invasive aquatic plants and animals, visit www.ProtectYourWaters.net/nh. You'll find the latest news about this problem, detailed procedures to prevent the transport of nuisance species, impacts caused by these species, facts about some of the more common "hitchhikers," and resources and ideas for you or your club to get involved with prevention efforts.