At the 2007 June Annual Meeting of the PLIA it was decided that, even with informal member weed surveys, there was a need for a more organized approach to patrolling the lake for invasive weeds. At this point members Steve Soreff and Peggy Tucker stepped forward and volunteered to create a Weed Watch Program.  The Weed Watchers survey the lake’s entire shoreline, report any suspicious findings to either the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) or a local aquatic plant expert, and if the item proves to be an exotic invasive weed, help plan an eradication effort.  If you are interested in learning more, please contact Co-Chair Steve Soreff at 603 568-3202 or soreffs15@aol.com.

Volunteer with Purple Loosestrife

Since 2007, volunteers comprising individuals who live or vacation on the lake, along with people who frequent the lake for recreation, have donated their time and effort as Weed Watchers on Pawtuckaway Lake. Trained by biologists to identify invasive aquatic plants both in and around the lake, this group has donated countless hours locating and planning the removal of infestations that threaten to disrupt the balance in biodiversity of plant life on this public water body.

 Amy Smagula of the NH Department of Environmental Services created an excellent and comprehensive slideshow to train Weed Watchers. You can learn more about invasive aquatic species on Pawtuckaway Lake by viewing it yourself, here.

Volunteers Pulling Phragmites

After that initial training, the lake’s shoreline is divided into sectors. Weed Watchers are assigned to each of these sections to patrol at least once a month during the growing season.  If an invasive plant infestation is identified, a plan of eradication is formed.

NOTE:  Only certified divers are qualified to remove invasive milfoil discovered and marked.  Improperly removed plants may spread milfoil throughout the lake.  Plant fragments can break off, root, and expand invasive milfoil infestations in the lake.  It may take several years to totally eradicate a persistent colony of any invasive plants, including phragmites or purple loosestrife.

A Handful of Milfoil

In late summer of 2015, it was the PLIA’s Weed Watchers who spotted the first growth of the invasive aquatic plant known as Variable Milfoil, in the lake near the boat ramp on Horse Island in the State Park.  The Lake Host Committee of the PLIA and NHDES were alerted to the problem, and mitigation action was immediately taken.  Volunteers regularly search the sensitive area, marking new growths to be pulled and encouraging boaters to avoid infested waters.  Only certified divers are specially trained to remove any invasive milfoil in the lake.  Whether the infestation has been successfully eradicated, only time and the diligent efforts of both Lake Hosts and Weed Watchers will tell.

Volunteer Neil Santos created a milfoil snorkel patrol a couple of years ago in response to the variable milfoil infestation on Pawtuckaway Lake. Since then, for his work he has received the Cox Conserves Hero Award and his team has grown to include a certified milfoil SCUBA diver, volunteer Tim Roos. Because the work of this team has developed a very specific purpose and its focus remains on milfoil, Neil’s mission has expanded beyond weed watching.
 For that reason, the PLIA decided to create a separate program, emerging from our Weed Watcher Program, called the Milfoil Management Program. Neil, naturally, is its Chair and will conduct operations. From time to time he will provide updates on the progress of his program’s search, mark, and destroy objectives. The Team is continuing to search primarily in the South Channel for additional milfoil. Neil is always on the lookout for volunteers to help with the Program’s milfoil patrol. If you are interested or want more information, please contact either Neil Santos at 603 437-8468, email neilsantos@comcast.net, or Steve Soreff, at  603 568-3202 email soreffs15@aol.com.

Memberships and volunteer hours are the way the PLIA supports this campaign to keep the lake free of noxious weeds.  To join those efforts, please consider becoming a volunteer, and help the PLIA preserve Pawtuckaway Lake for future generations to enjoy.  If you are SCUBA Open Water certified, and would like to become trained as a Weed Control Diver to volunteer your time diving on milfoil sites in the lake, please let us know!  You are invited to send an email to:   Info@PawtuckawayLake.com with your contact information along with how you would like to help.  You can also send any questions you may have.  Please spread the word, not the milfoil!