Snorkel Diver Team Renews Milfoil Search

Our Milfoil Search Team started its summer activities on Pawtuckaway Lake on June 1. So far PLIA volunteers John Hudson, Jim Kelly, and Neil Santos have conducted three snorkeling sessions in the area near the State Park Horse Island boat launch in the South Channel. They have found several small milfoil plants that were marked for removal by NH DES divers on June 9. A larger milfoil plant in the area of the red and white buoy was found by the certified scuba-diving relative of a lake resident, but subsequent attempts to locate it again have not been successful. This effort, and underwater searching in general, has been hampered by the murky conditions due to the amount of pollen suspended in the water. Underwater visibility has been less than 4 feet, but should improve in the next few weeks as the pollen settles to the bottom. The Search Team should then be able to get a better assessment of the overall milfoil situation in the South Channel.  Their activities in the South Channel will continue throughout the summer and NH DES divers will return periodically to remove any milfoil plants that are found. Several additional snorkelers and scuba divers have expressed an interest in helping with these efforts and more assistance is always welcome.

We ask all boaters to please stay well clear of any orange milfoil markers in the South Channel and, for the safety of our Milfoil Search Team, stay at least 100 feet away from any “Diver Down” flags that you see anywhere in the lake.


Diver Alert

Do you know what this flag means?  Have you seen one on the lake?  If you do, this is the Diver-Down flag.  It means that a diver or snorkeler is within 75 feet of their flag.  It also means that ALL boats/vessels must stay at least 150 feet from a displayed Diver-Down flag per NH State law.

Frequently there are divers and snorkelers in South Channel searching for milfoil plants, to identify any plants that may have taken root and mark them for removal.


For the safety of these divers and snorkelers who volunteer their time for the benefit of the lake, we ask that you respect this flag, keep your distance, and reduce your speed.  Please remember that South Channel is a no wake zone and speeds should be kept down at all times, anyway.  There are markers at both ends of the channel as reminders. And please spread the word!

Thanks as always for your support.



Recap of PLIA Annual Meeting

In a new location and on an earlier date, the Annual Meeting of the Pawtuckaway Lake Improvement Association was well attended this year, with about 70 participants.

President John Decker presided over the business meeting, in which a new Board member, Susan Hayes, was elected and five other Board members whose terms were expiring were elected for another two years. The Board of Directors’ proposal to amend the Bylaws in order to change the membership year from June 1 – May 31 to January 1 – December 31 was also approved unanimously.

Treasurer Ed Kotowski presented the year-end Financial Report and Dee Decker gave the Membership Report, explaining that less than half the households on and around the lake are members and urging those present to encourage neighbors and friends to join the PLIA.

John Decker summarized the milfoil situation to date and all the efforts last year to locate, prevent the spread, and remove it from the South Channel.  Boaters who avoided the South Channel last season were commended for their cooperation. Milfoil was not detected as of last fall, but it is a stubborn adversary and may reappear this year.  Weed Watcher Neil Santos described the work of his snorkel team to regularly patrol the South Channel searching for and marking any new growths for removal by the DES divers. Vice President Tom Duffy invited anyone who is a PADI certified diver to join Neil’s team in locating (but not removing!) milfoil. Divers with open water certification may take the milfoil removal training offered by the State, with the possibility of scheduling a locally conducted course.

In response to a question from a member about closing the South Channel to boat traffic, John Decker advised that we don’t have the authority to take such action and the State has not determined that the infestation is severe or widespread enough for such a measure.

Lake Host Coordinator Dee Decker reported on the activities of that Program last year and summarized the changes coming this year. A “Pull Your Plug” theme will be emphasized in the new campaign of Clean, Drain, and Dry your boating equipment. The State is very invested in this Program and a valuable partner in our efforts to prevent and control invasive species in Pawtuckaway. A new law was passed in NH that prohibits the transport of invasive species—whether knowingly or not—on boating equipment, and which carries fines and penalties.

Weed Watcher Co-Chair Steve Soreff urged members to keep their eyes open for invasive weeds whenever they are out on the lake. He reminded members that it was one of our Weed Watchers who initially detected the first growths of milfoil in 2015.

John Decker announced the development of a PLIA Facebook group for members only.  Look for coming announcements!  He reminded everyone present to be good lake stewards, help clean up debris, and avoid water balloons on the lake. Give a hoot; don’t pollute.

Tom Duffy conducted a Milfoil Challenge to test the knowledge of PLIA members, and was pleasantly surprised that most knew a lot about this invasive weed and how best to control it.  Everyone deserved a prize!

You can look at the power point slides presented to members at the meeting here:  PLIA Annual 2017.ppsx

Following the business portion of the meeting, members broke into small discussion groups led by Paul Miliotis (winged wildlife on Pawtuckaway), Tom Duffy (developing your property—Shoreland Protection truth and fiction), Dee Decker (Clean, Drain, Dry and the Lake Host Program), and Steve Soreff (history of Pawtuckaway Lake and the State Park).


President’s Message

This past year was a busy one for the PLIA. Of utmost importance was to step up the fight against the milfoil growing in South Channel. We were optimistic that the divers from NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) were able to eradicate it in the fall of 2015. Unfortunately, there were still roots that survived the winter and grew during the summer along with fragments creating new areas of growth.

Everything came to a head as we approached the 4th of July weekend with the Board making the hard decision to split the 4th of July boat parade in two to avoid going through the South Channel. With input from the State, signs were posted at each end of the channel and the State Park staff spoke with each camper as they registered asking that boaters avoid going through the channel. Marine Patrol also put up No Wake buoys and indicated that they would step up patrols in that area. I would like to thank all who avoided South Channel through our time of crisis. The reduced traffic helped prevent the fragile plant from breaking off and rooting in other spots.

Thanks to volunteer Weed Watcher Neil Santos and his band of snorkel divers, South Channel was patrolled frequently for milfoil growth and marked with orange buoys. Specially trained NHDES divers would come and pull the latest growth; at points this summer this was about every two weeks. Just as we were finishing up the season we received news that no plants were observed and the signage was removed from South Channel. While I’m hopeful that we have eliminated the plants and will continue to hear of no findings from our divers, milfoil is very resilient and it is likely to be back this summer.

On the prevention side, we were able to add a part-time Lake Host at the State Park thanks to a sizeable donation from one of our members, along with focusing volunteer hours at the Park. The Fundy boat launch is staffed with paid Lake Hosts from Memorial Day through Labor Day and this year we are planning to have a paid host at the State Park Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during that same time. Additional hours before Memorial Day and after Labor Day will need to be staffed by volunteers. Please consider becoming a volunteer in this very important program.

Prevention is our best defense against invasive species and is what the Lake Host program is all about. Our first training was held on April 8th but additional trainings will be held as needed to support this program. The paid Lake Hosts are funded through a grant from the New Hampshire Lakes Association, a Town Warrant Article and dollars collected from Memberships to the PLIA. If you are unable to volunteer time to this program please consider joining the PLIA or increasing your annual PLIA membership contribution to help support this important program. Remember, your contribution is 100% tax deductible on your 1040A form.

In addition to Lake Host volunteers, we are currently seeking Open Water Certified divers to help keep a watch for milfoil. We are also looking into the specialized training necessary for milfoil removal, which requires an Open Water diver Certification as a prerequisite. People interested in taking the NHDES Weed Control Diver course and getting certified should contact Vice-President Tom Duffy at 603 303-3039 or

In appreciation for all the help we received throughout the season, we held our first Volunteer Appreciation Picnic in the fall. The board served burgers, hot dogs, and other fare to the folks who contributed their time to help us meet our goals. It is a great group and anyone who would like to join is welcome; send us an email at and let us know how you’d like to help.

 A new page on Lake Levels has been added to this website to address many of the inquiries that people have about that topic. You’ll find it posted on the Home page. We are trying to keep our website content fresh and relevant and will post important information here along with continuing to send out messages through our email list. If you are not getting these and wish to sign up for our email list, send a message with your name and contact information to Pam Kelly at

This year we have moved the Annual Meeting to May in hopes of increasing attendance. We have even added a Fun and Games section. Following the business portion of the meeting we will again have breakout discussions, which seem to be pretty popular. As far as business at this year’s Annual Meeting, we have proposed a small change to the Bylaws, to amend the membership year from June 1 – May 31 to January 1 -December 31. It has been noted that the fiscal year membership has been confusing to some members and by changing to the calendar year membership, people will know what year their membership applies to and membership contributions are easily associated with a specific tax year.

Hope to see you at Annual Meeting on May 20.
John Decker, PLIA President

Earth Day Road Cleanup

On Saturday, April 22—Earth Day—volunteers from the Pawtuckaway Lake Improvement Association gathered along a stretch of Route 156 to pick up trash along the highway. What better timing for this project?

Now that the snows of winter have melted, the trash that lay hidden beneath their depths was highly visible, and therefore easier to spot and to remove.

Twice a year, PLIA members gather on Route 156 to spend an hour or so fanning out along both sides of the highway between the signs bearing the organization’s name. It is a program of which the PLIA is proud, and is one way to give back to the community.

And don’t forget –

The Annual Meeting is May 20, 9:00 AM at the Nottingham Town Offices—please join us!

The Lake Level is Full

According to Wayne Ives of NHDES:

“As of 7 am this morning (April 12), the lake level gage indicates that Pawtuckaway Lake was full and it is now spilling water over the spillways.

The spillway elevations at Drowns and Dolloff are 250.4 feet.

This water level is not the highest that the lake goes in the spring, but these conditions are considered “full.”

You can see the lake level conditions here



Exotic Species and Boat Inspection Training

WHERE:  Nottingham Municipal Building, Conference Room #1

WHEN:   April 8, 2017

TIME:     9:00 AM to 1:00 PM

2016 Training Outside Nottingham Municipal Building

This is a combined event!  Amy Smagula from NH DES will be coming from 9 – 11 for the Weed Watcher portion.

We will break for pizza and then Dee Decker, PLIA Lake Host Program Coordinator, will conduct the Lake Host portion of the training.

If you are interested in attending the training on April 8, please contact either Steve Soreff, Weed Watcher Co-Chair, or tel. 603 568-3202; or Dee Decker, Lake Host Coordinator, or tel. 603 498-3830.  It is important that we get a head count!

All Lake Host volunteers must attend a local training each year. There are also trainings at NH LAKES for Lake Hosts that volunteers are welcome to attend. Here is a link to the trainings.


Save the Date

The PLIA is trying a new approach to summer this year, kicking off the season with an earlier Annual Meeting.  The new date will be:

May 20, 2017

So, please mark your calendars now!!!

Outgoing President Tom Duffy with Incoming President John Decker
Outgoing President Tom Duffy with Incoming President John Decker

There is much work to be done in planning for a new season of lake activity.  There are volunteers to recruit, Lake Hosts and Weed Watchers to train, information to broadcast, questions to answer, and many events to coordinate.  It helps to get a jump on things by starting earlier, so this year we will be doing just that.

In addition, we are pleased to announce a new LOCATION for our Annual Meeting:

Multipurpose Room,

Nottingham Town Offices

139 Stage Road

And meanwhile, see you on the lake!

Annual Pawtuckaway Lake Islands Clean-Up


Recently Pawtuckaway Lake Weed Watchers conducted their annual island trash pick-up on the weekend of Saturday December 3 and Sunday December 4.

For safety, volunteers don life vests, warm clothing, and waterproof shoes or boots and employ the buddy system because of potential danger in icy waters.pam-island-trashjim-island-trash

This year, the lake level dropped for the winter later in the season than usual.  But when the water level is low and before the snow comes, more of the shoreline is exposed, both around the lake front and the islands. That’s the best time to spot and remove some of the debris that has accumulated during the busy summer season.  Trash, items that have fallen from watercraft or washed off shores, the remains of fireworks displays, and other recreational items left behind by visitors are more visible when the water is low.  In the summer, currents wash this debris to the rocky island perimeters, where it is exposed to view in the late fall and can be collected.rabbit-island-trash

Despite a cold stiff breeze, many of the Weed Watchers braved the elements and picked up trash on and around the islands. They reported less trash than they removed last year.  This annual event represents the PLIA’s commitment to protect and preserve the natural beauty the lake.  And, as if on cue, it snowed Monday, December 5, demonstrating that timing is everything.