Through our volunteer Weed Watcher program the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) has taken a proactive approach to exotic plant control. Many New Hampshire lake residents, lake associations, fishermen, and water recreationists are taking part in this program, and you can too!
Variable milfoil, fanwort, water chestnut, purple loosestrife and common reed are blanketing waterbodies throughout the state. Infestations of these plants lead to diminished wildlife habitat, decreased recreational potential, and lowered property values.
Unfortunately, eradication of these exotics is rarely possible.For any invasive species, our best available strategies are prevention and early detection. Some of these plants can grow up to an inch a day. If new infestations are caught early, low-tech methods like hand pulling can keep them under control and prevent a whole-lake infestation.
Anyone can become a Weed Watcher. We have trained lake residents, retirement groups, youth groups, fishing enthusiasts, and many others. Volunteers like these are the best line of defense because they are often the most familiar with the waterbodies they choose to monitor, allowing them to notice even a subtle change in plant growth.
Weed watching usually takes place once a month from late May through August.
Volunteers will be instructed on how to conduct a weed survey, what to look for, and who to contact if there is a problem. Volunteers will also receive a binder full of information on the program and details on the most threatening invasives. Included in the binder is a plant identification key for common plants on our waterbodies. There is no cost to the volunteer. The only equipment a volunteer will need is a boat, a partner or two, and a nice bright summer day.
The laminated plant identification field guide also comes with the Weed Watcher Kit
Weed Watching is one of the most proactive ways to protect the valuable surface water resources we all enjoy so much. We have already benefited from the efforts of Volunteer Weed Watchers. In Lake Mascoma in Enfield, a vigilant volunteer found a new infestation of Eurasian milfoil in 1999. Thanks to the efforts of our volunteer, NHDES was able to head off a full lake infestation of this aggressive plant. Finding exotic plants early CAN lead to successful management and containment. Don't let your lake become choked with exotic plants! Contact the NH Exotic Species Program and become a Volunteer Weed Watcher!