Mount Holly lake free of invasive plants
By Cristina Kumka
STAFF WRITER | November 14,2012
MOUNT HOLLY — An invasive plant species that could have made swimming and boating in Lake Ninevah nearly impossible has been eradicated.
Scuba divers in search of Eurasian watermilfoil gave the lake a clean bill of health this week after finding none of the non-native plant this fall, according to the Ninevah Foundation, a nonprofit conservation organization that owns much of the land around the lake.
Eurasian watermilfoil can choke out native plants and ruin a lake for recreational use.
It was discovered in Lake Ninevah in 2000. After being eradicated in 2005, it came back five years later.
With the help of several years of grant funding from the state Agency of Natural Resources, and private donations to make up the difference, nearly 1,400 hours of annual aquatic nuisance monitoring has taken place at the state fishing access, where boats are checked before entering the water.
And scuba divers check the lake twice a year for new plants and hand pull the plants if found, according to Paul Nevin, foundation member and Mount Holly Select Board chairman.
The program costs about $30,000 a year.
“Keeping Lake Ninevah healthy has been a combined effort of local citizens, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the town of Mount Holly,” said Betsey McGee, president of the Ninevah Foundation and a longtime homeowner on the lake, in a press release. “When we recognized the risk of invasive plants, like milfoil, we started working together to keep the lake clean.”
Lake Ninevah is a shallow, high-elevation lake that is home to a wide array of wildlife, including loons, moose, bald eagles and beavers. Up to 3,000 people enjoy the lake each summer, most in kayaks, canoes and small fishing boats, according to the Ninevah Foundation.
If allowed to get out of control, the plants could grow up to 20-feet and the “whole lake would be useless,” said Nevin, who has owned property around the lake his whole life.
He said the best prevention is twofold — monitoring the cleanliness of boats that come to the lake and diving to find new plants and get rid of them.
Nevin said diving is key because milfoil can be transported even by water foul.
He said the Foundation will continue to apply for annual grants and get private donors to pick up the balance.