The Squam Conservation Internship provides skills and experience for future conservation professionals while working as the driving force behind the SLA’s conservation mission. This volunteer internship provides hands-on conservation work experience and certifications over a broad range of activities. Interns serve as campsite hosts and caretakers at our backcountry campsites, work toward the eradication of variable milfoil, help preserve loon populations on Squam, engage both youth and adults in environmental education, and perform other conservation duties such as shoreline restoration and trail maintenance and construction. Squam Conservation Interns also regularly write about their experiences in the Squam Watershed. Learn more about the internship program here.
JUNE 2, 2016
We’re nearing the end of our training now, only about a week left! This is both exciting and saddening at the same time; exciting that we will all be prepared for our intense summer, but sad because us interns will begin our rotations and will not be together every day. This separation is necessary though, to better cover varying aspects of conservation Squam Lakes Association (SLA) supports, and to prevent us from getting at each other’s throats.
Today we learned a couple of new skills that will be crucial for surviving this summer: how to chop firewood, and how to properly remove variable milfoil using the bag technique. Chopping firewood and offering it to campers at our campsites is very important. Having fire supplies readily available discourages campers from wandering off into the woods in search of kindling and firewood. Wandering around can trample plants, and many feet later, may even prevent plant life from being able to grow in an area at all. This campsite etiquette also relates to hiking and sticking to the trails there. Tomorrow we are looking forward to learning about trail maintenance.
We also took shifts in learning how to collect variable milfoil. During the day we had at least two divers in the water with our instructor, the divers switching out every hour or so, and nine hours later, all the interns had managed to remove about 30 gallons of variable milfoil from the Little Squam Channel by the dam. It all begins when you let out the air in your buoyancy control device and sink into this underwater universe. We were all surprised by how surrounded you became within two feet of the bottom of the channel. It was almost sad seeing so much of it, but us interns are so inspired by our goals!
Variable milfoil is present in both Big and Little Squam, but it is more prevalent in Little Squam. This invasive aquatic species is a serious problem in many lakes across NH and nearby states. It out-competes native aquatics for both space and resources. One of the reasons this invasive is difficult to manage is the manner behind its propagation. Even fragments of the leaves and stems can sprout roots if they land on the bottom of the lake and have the necessary nutrients. Variable milfoil has become such a problem that the general goal in many places is no longer eradication but simply to control. The SLA has put in a significant effort into controlling variable milfoil, and has been able to create one of the extremely limited success stories against variable milfoil. Variable milfoil is nearly gone from Big Squam, and going down in numbers each year in Little Squam. Us interns are fueled and ready to go keep the efforts of our predecessors going, to help conserve this beautiful lake we are beginning to call home.
Maggie G. was born and raised in Rumney, NH and is now a Senior attending the State University of New York at Oswego, NY.