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NH Lake group introducing anti-invasive species legislation

MEREDITH " The New Hampshire Lakes Association is working to introduce three bills to present to the legislature next month, all designed to bolster the work of state officials and dockside volunteers fighting invasive water species, like milfoil, that could ruin the state's lakes.

Other states are suffering badly from infestations of invasive species such as variable milfoil and Asian clams, and the Granite State has begun to suffer as well, state officials say.

Invasive water species make recreation in and on the water dangerous and unpleasant. They also disrupt the ecological balance of water bodies, they reduce shoreline property values, and they are difficult and expensive to control, said Andrea LaMoreaux, vice president of the Lakes Association.

There are four areas in the state that already suffer from severe Asian clam infestation " Cobbett's Pond in Windham, a section of the Merrimack River below Manchester, Long Pond in Pelham, and Wash Pond in Hampstead " and in each, parts of the water body are marked because of the problem.

"It's very hard to get rid of these once they get here from other water bodies in other states," LaMoreaux said. "That's why the emphasis is on preventing them from getting into our waters to begin with."

Invasive species arrive on boats, often on boat propellers, and volunteer inspectors join state officials at docks each summer, checking boats for invasive plants and removing them when found.

In its 2014-15 Lakes Advocacy Survey taken since September, the Lakes Association asked its 1,000 members and many other interested groups which of several suggested issues the association should focus its association and legislative efforts on.

Three areas of focus for legislation were identified and have been adopted by the association. The first is to improve the makeup of the state's Exotic Aquatic Weeds and Species Committee by adding all responsible state agencies and other commercial and nonprofit stakeholders to the group and require the committee to make legislative recommendations each year. Changing the committee in any way requires the consent of the legislature.

The second bill would require groups that hold boating events to have a state permit " fishing derbies, boat parades, regattas, etc. " to conduct and document the inspection of participating boats for aquatic invasive species. Inspection would assume removal of visible aquatic invasive species and verbally confirming that the boat and gear has been cleaned, drained, and dried after traveling between water bodies.

The third focus and bill would provide the state with the authority to temporarily close part or all of a water body for all non-essential boat traffic for the purposes of treating, with the intent of controlling or eradicating, infestations of aquatic invasive species. LaMoreaux said two state representatives, Sue Gottling, D-Sullivan District 2 and Judith Spang (d). D-Strafford District 6, are working with the lakes association on the legislation.    By DAN SEUFERT  Union Leader Correspondent

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