NH Group Receives Award for Invasive Species Program

Graphic from http://www.nisaw.org

On Wednesday, February 25, the New Hampshire Lakes Association (NH LAKES) received a 2015 Outstanding Invasive Species Volunteer Award at the National Invasive Species Achievement Awards Ceremony held in Washington D.C. NH LAKES accepted the award for the management of its Lake Host Program—a courtesy boat inspection program to help boaters prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species—which has leveraged tremendous volunteer participation since its inception in 2002.

During 2014, 500 individuals volunteered as Lake Hosts, logging a total of 11,093 hours teaching boaters at boat ramps throughout New Hampshire how to clean, drain, and dry their boats and trailers to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Invasive plants like milfoil and animals like the Asian clam alter the natural ecology of waterbodies, degrade boating, swimming, and fishing areas, and are expensive to manage and nearly impossible to get rid of once they become well-established in a waterbody. Since 2002, Lake Hosts have conducted more than 664,000 courtesy boat inspections and have made more than 1,467 “saves” of aquatic invasive species that were about to enter or had just left a waterbody.

Receiving the award on behalf of NH LAKES at the ceremony held at the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C. were Tom O’Brien (NH LAKES President), John Edie (NH LAKES Board Member), and Annie Isacco (NH LAKES Lake Host Volunteer at Warren Lake in Alstead).

“The competition for these awards was intense and it was humbling to be among such accomplished leaders in the fight against invasive species. The award recipients hailed from Hawaii, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Texas, Washington, Washington D.C., and New Hampshire,” commented Tom O’Brien. “The most important thing about our award is that it recognizes our volunteers who give their time to help others protect our lakes. It was a humbling but gratifying experience to represent the NH LAKES Lake Host Program in Washington, D.C. during National Invasive Species Awareness Week.”

The purpose of National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW), being held February 22 – 28 this year, is to educate people about steps they can take to prevent the spread of non-native species that can harm humans and the environment and impact our nation’s economy. In addition to the awards ceremony in Washington D.C., events are being hosted by organizations across the country to raise awareness about the spread of invasive non-native terrestrial and aquatic plants, animals and microorganisms. Invasive species are found in every habitat, including oceans, lakes, streams, wetlands, croplands, rangelands, natural areas, parks, forests, urban environments, yards, and gardens. The damage done by invasive plants alone costs the U.S. an estimated $34.7 billion a year. Additional information about NISAW and the 2015 award recipients