Lake Currents – July 2012
Dear Fellow Groton Lakes Association Members And Friends,
This month we would like to bring you up to date on the latest news and activities of everyone involved in our ongoing efforts to solve our growing infestation of non-native weeds. We are pleased to announce that volunteer efforts have picked up and we appreciate everyone’s call to action. If you have not already volunteered, come to our GLA meetings and see where you might be able to help.
Remember to keep an eye out for Water chestnut plants. If you have questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sargisson Beach Clean-up
A new resident of our area, Andrew Davis, who lives near the entrance to Sargisson Beach, has taken it upon himself to restore the beach, clean-up the grounds and gather support for eventually re-opening it (with docks and life guards) by the Town for everyone to use. Thanks to the Conservation Commission’s permission, Andrew and the Groton Highway Department spruced up the grounds and laid down a carpet of mulch. A new portable restroom was installed and the storage shed was repaired.
Notices were put in the newspaper and town’s website announcing a Sargisson Beach volunteer effort from 7AM- 11AM on Saturday June 30th to remove accumulated weeds, leaves and branches from the beach area. The Groton Lakes Association and Weed Harvester Committee brought in the new trailer in which to place the materials. Approximately thirty people, a mixture of Groton residents from uptown, lake residents, as well as a few people from outlying communities, showed up with rakes, pitchforks, shovels, wheelbarrows and tremendous enthusiasm.
It was a very successful morning as two large trailer loads were hauled away by end of the morning. New friendships were made, old ones renewed. Selectwoman Anna Eliot and Board of Health member Bob Fleischer worked alongside other volunteers. The beach looked much better for their efforts and we thank everyone for participating.
The GLA would like to see the budget for this beach restored so that the piers can be put out and a lifeguard installed and perhaps swimming lessons resumed for all of Groton’s citizens. It costs approximately $31,000 annually to support such a reopening. We feel it is a treasure of a community resource that needs the support of all.
Public Access at Boat Launch
The boat launch receives heavy traffic from boaters and fishermen who seek the pleasure of spending many hours cruising, skiing or seeking largemouth bass and trout that exist in our lakes. Unfortunately, many who use this ramp come with trailers, motors and boats that have weeds still on them from other lakes and when they leave carry our invasive weeds out to their next destination. This is a big problem throughout Massachusetts and requires a solution to prevent re-infestation once we have treated our lakes. This solution is hampered by the fact there is currently no enforcement provision to make boaters clean off their rigs. In New Hampshire, each lake has a “host” at the public access to monitor such activities.
We are happy to announce that Erich Garger and Erik Collins have volunteered to research this problem and hopefully we can come up with a plan to educate our guests on proper usage at the boat launch. Currently, a bill is slowly working its way through the Legislature to put some enforcement teeth into this area wide problem. We welcome others to become involved to help us solve this important issue.
Endangered Weed Survey and DNA Testing
Later this month a botanist from Wisconsin will be joining the State botanist from Natural Heritage Endangered Species Program (NHESP) to conduct a new survey and collect samples of Sparganium to be used for DNA testing at the University of Connecticut to once and for all determine whether our lakes have this plant. Last summer four botanists were unable to identify definitively this plant as endangered. One of these botanists, a well-known and respected aquatic plant specialist, Barre Hellquist, met with your GLA President, Art Prest, and GLA member, Alex Woodle, at a recent conference at the University of New Hampshire for the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS). Mr. Hellquist told us that the first sample sent to him from our lakes was a grass, not an endangered plant! The following week Art sent Barre Hellquist two photographs of the aquatic plant that NHESP has on file as evidence of the presence of the endangered plant (i.e., Sparganium natans) in Knops Pond and Barre responded: “I looked at the photos. They don’t look like S. natans to me.”
We are hopeful that the July survey and subsequent DNA work will give us a definitive answer so we can fine tune how we would apply the herbicide SONAR to be most effective. We are also planning on sending samples of this plant from states where it is not endangered to the company that makes the herbicide. They will test it to see if it would be harmed by the application.
Your roving GLA members, Art and Alex, as mentioned above, spent a day back in early June at this conference that included such topics as the effects of climate change on invasive weeds, an effort by Lake Champlain residents to control Water Chestnut (a problem we certainly don’t want!); effects of weed infestation on property values and many other interesting subjects.
Notice of Intent (NOI) and Resource Management Plan (RMP)
Our consultant Aquatic Control Technology (ACT) has produced a draft of the NOI which has been reviewed by GLA members. A final draft should be completed soon. Brad and Cheney Harper, Art Prest and I have almost completed a Resource Management Plan for the lakes as well. They will eventually be submitted to the Conservation Commission for approval. We will inform you when there is a public hearing so all our supporters can attend.
Wetland Bylaw Review Commission
GLA member, Alex Woodle, was appointed by the Selectmen to serve on this commission to make recommendations for revision of the bylaw. I have talked with homeowners, planners, engineers, a realtor and attorneys to gather information. I am recommending to the commission that removing invasives and navigational hazards such as fallen trees be exempt from this bylaw. It is incumbent for the Conservation Commission to protect our natural resources from these problems as they cause safety problems for operating on the lakes, decrease habitat and wildlife diversity and lower property values. Their job is to help residents of Groton protect their natural resources without jeopardizing these values. There should be a hearing in the future to discuss this commission’s findings and recommendations. We encourage all to participate.
Future Presentations to Boards by GLA
GLA together with Savas Danos, a Groton resident and limnologist who heads Littleton’s Water and Electric Department, is helping us put together a PowerPoint presentation for the Selectmen, Conservation Commission and the Board of Health. The presentation will focus on the plan to treat the lake and the effectiveness and safety of using the herbicide SONAR. We now have a list of numerous towns in Massachusetts that have used this herbicide to control their invasive weed problems. Note that this list is being updated weekly so if you know of another lake or pond please let us know.
Conservation Commission to Tour Lakes July 21st
The Conservation Commission has voted to take a boat tour of Lost Lake and Knops Pond to see firsthand the severity of the weed problem. The Commission will travel by pontoon boat, led by Art Prest.
What Are Other Massachusetts Towns Doing About Non-Native Invasive Weeds?
Finally, I think I speak for all lake residents when I thank the Harvester Committee and all the operators and haulers for keeping our waterways open this summer. Let’s continue working hard towards our goals so that next year we may be able to retire the harvester and return our focus to using the lakes for all kinds of recreation in a safe and responsible way while continuing to educate our residents and guests and monitor weed growth.
Respectfully submitted by Alex Woodle