The Answers on Bass Weed
At the MLA annual meeting and in many conversations around the lake this summer, people have been asking about the expanding growth of bass weed in our water. It's that tall plant with relatively broad leaves, brownish-green in color, that by now is floating top leaves that look a bit like mini-lily -pads. It's a native plant, naturally occurring in NH lakes. It's good habitat for bass.
We've always had some patches in Mascoma Lake. Last year those patches enlarged, and this year they're much bigger. If they're growing near your beach or dock or boat, they can look and feel unpleasant.
People have asked: Can we pull them out or trim them back? If we can't do it ourselves, could the MLA get a permit for authorized harvest? That's what we do with Eurasian milfoil, an invasive exotic weed that is recognized as a threat to lake quality.
We asked the NH Department of Environmental Services these questions. The wildlife biologist who oversees milfoil control, Amy Smagula, referred us to a DES environmental specialist in the wetlands division. His name is Craig Rennie.
Craig Rennie's response, in short, is No. He explained that DES does not allow digging of native plants. He says they have never issued a permit or established a program for bass weed control, and he doesn't think it is likely in the future.
He noted that disrupting naturally occurring plants, especially in large numbers, might spread nutrients and encourage growth. It might also leave a fine fertile space for invasive plantations to flourish. (We do sometimes find milfoil plants in clumps of bass weed.). He also suggested that the big growth of bass weed might be a sign of the lake's overall health. He confirmed that it's good for fish.
So there's the information we sought, even if it's not the answer we wanted! We're passing this on just to let everyone know.
Martha & David
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