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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Resident designs new system to fight milfoil Man devises new system to combat milfoil

From the Eagle Tribbune;

Resident designs new system to fight milfoil Man devises new system to combat milfoil
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Scuba divers are starting to put a serious dent in the number of invasive plants in Big Island Pond. But Bob Patterson, who managed the eight divers this summer, has a new plan to attack the almost 100 acres that have been infested with milfoil.

Patterson wants to arm local volunteers and people across the state with snorkeling gear to pull the weeds from the bottom of the state's lakes and ponds.

Milfoil doesn't grow any deeper than 20 feet in Big Island Pond and with the small supplied-air system Patterson built, anyone could spend all day skin diving to collect the nuisance plants.

Certifications for scuba diving and equipment can cost between $2,000 and $3,000, but a supplied-air system is much cheaper and can run all day on a gallon of gas.

"Now, I can have a diver in the water for $150 instead of thousands of dollars," Patterson said.

Volunteers can become certified skin divers in a weekend. They would only have to take a $100 course to learn to use the air system and complete a state-certified, weed-pulling class to learn how to identify milfoil and pull it, Patterson said.

The new system consists of a generator and a pump that pushes air through a tank and into a hose that connects to the diver's respirator.

The hose on the system Patterson built is about 50 feet long and is connected to a hose that sucks up the milfoil into a net on top of a harvester.

The new program is much easier on the diver, too.

A scuba tank weighs close to 40 pounds and can fatigue a diver within a few hours. But with the new system, the diver only needs a respirator and can dive all day without a problem.

Last weekend was the first time Patterson tried out the new system and he said he was able to stay underwater for 18 hours, something he never would have been able to do carrying a scuba tank.

"It's going to greatly increase the number of divers," he said.

The program has caught the attention of the New Hampshire Lakes Association.

Jared Teutsch, president of the association, said skin diving is the future of milfoil treatment, but first the state Department of Environmental Services needs to approve the treatment.

DES controls the treatment options in the state and has yet to allow skin diving. Chemical treatment and scuba diving are the only approved options to manage milfoil, Teutsch said.

Teutsch said his association would work with Patterson and the DES over the winter to allow the treatment.

Amy Smagula, exotic species coordinator at the DES, was not available yesterday for comment.

The lakes association has received funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to fund alternative methods of weed control and would like to establish a grant program so lakes across the state can start their own skin diving programs.

"I don't know that we'll be able to put it together for next summer, but that would be ideal," Teutsch said.


Anonymous said...

Bob Patterson deserves the gratitude of the citizens of Atkinson, for his hard work and dedication to cleaning milfoil from the depths of Big Island Pond.

In the beginning, there were neighbors who fought his ideas vehemently, because they preferred dumping chemicals into the lake instead. Many meeting were held, angry words exchanged and relationships damaged, before a majority vote allowed Mr. Patterson to proceed.

Without chemicals, Bob has exceeded expectations with his results. It is nice to see that because of his research and work, a new simplified procedure was designed to fight mlfoil.

Congratulations to Bob and his team, on their success. Keep up the good work. We appreciate everything you have done.

Anonymous said...

Even if chemicals had been used, the plan was ALWAYS to work WITH Bob as harvesting would still be needed after chemical use.

Bob and crew have done a tremendous job this year and deserve all of our praises.

But please note that milfoil harvesting will have to continue forever, which will be difficult with the number of volunteers that keep dropping out each year.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps with Bob's new system, kids could be taught to pull some milfoil while having fun swimming on a hot day. Every little bit helps, right?

Knowing Bob and his team, he will have no trouble getting replacements every year.

Anonymous said...

Every little bit helps and it would be great if kids could be taught how to pull milfoil.

I've been doing volunteer work for years and unfortunately, over those years, volunteerism everywhere has dropped tremendously, especially among young people.

There are a lot of people who verbally volunteer to help for things, but whe you try to get them to commit to a date, they either consistently have something going on or they no longer want to help. There are also those who volunteer to help once and you never see them again. This happens with all volunteer work.

Bob is a savior to Big Island Pond and I am grateful for his hard work and enthusism. Unfortunately though, it's the same small group of volunteers that help him and those folks are getting burned out.

Anonymous said...

Joyce LaFrance said...

I lived on Captain's Pond in Salem for many years and they removed the milfoil in the mid '80's using a harvester, rather than to use chemicals. The results were impressive and up until recently, I haven't seen much regrowth.

Mr. Patterson deserves praise for his dedication and success.

Anonymous said...

I find it a shame that only 5 comments have been posted to this very serious issue. I guess it's because of the other issues at hand, but Bob Patterson has done a great job on the milfoil problem.

I for one say good luck Bob the rest of this year and next. Thank you for all your hard work.

Anonymous said...

Only a few residents live on the lake. The rest of us have no access! Why would you think there would be this great flood of response when it affects only a few lucky ones like Leon?

Anonymous said...

If you can't understand the damage milfoil can do to a lake, stream and waterway all the way to the ocean and how it can effect you, then you’re not looking past your nose. This effects everybody no matter where they live.

Please take the time to study the problem before it's too late to reverse. It's only common sense.

If you would like to know more, contact Bob Patterson on Chase Island. He will help you with your questions.