Click any blue-bordered photo on this page to enlarge it.
by Esther J. Perne
Summer of 2019: It's time for the five lake associations in the Belgrades to hold their annual meetings, and the first to assemble is the McGrath Pond/Salmon Lake Association. Small, dynamic, forward-looking, the MPSLA is celebrating its 30th anniversary — celebrating a lot of good things this year and celebrating three decades of a steady track record working to improve water quality.
Lake associations are formed for many reasons. On McGrath/Salmon, it all began with one resident who noticed the lake was turning murky green and who traced it to the sources, a town gravel pit leaking into the lake and some illegal logging. Other property owners became involved. Working with the town, they got it to put a siltation pond at the bottom of the gravel pit. The logging was halted. The desire of residents to prevent further deterioration of the lakes wasn't. Conversations led to meetings, led to forming an association.
Lenny Reich, that first concerned resident, who was MPSLA President from 1989-1993 and is currently Vice President and editor of the association's impressive newsletter, wrote the following:
In April 1989 the Association paid its state fees and officially became a nonprofit corporation. The first annual meeting took place that summer at Camp Tracy. Throughout the 1990s, our Association worked to improve water quality in our lakes and to build community among the folks who loved them.
Under Lenny's auspices, the MPSLA was instrumental in forming the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance (currently the 7 Lakes Alliance), was involved in the initial meetings of representatives of all the Belgrade chain of lakes — a group called the Lake Associations of the Belgrades, LABs, and starting the Belgrade Lakes Conservation Corps (today's Youth Conservation Corps).
In 1998, Lenny recounts, MPSLA embarked on its first comprehensive watershed survey to get a handle on where nutrient-rich runoff was entering the lakes. As a result the association remediated runoff problems on more than 100 shoreline properties over a five-year period, saving something like 14 tons of nutrient-rich sediments from ever reaching the lakes to turn them green.
Two decades later, MPSLA has just finished its second watershed survey. If anything, Lenny points out, this one is more thorough than the first:
With the recent survey as a guide, we have developed a Watershed-Based Protection Plan to guide us through the process of once again remediating over 100 sites. From experience, we know that there are tons of sediment to keep out of the lakes so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy McGrath Pond and Salmon Lake as much as we have. It's a job that's never really done, and it's good to know that MPSLA will always be here to work with those who love them to keep McGrath and Salmon as clean and as beautiful as they can be.
The 2019 annual meeting accentuated that quality of always being there for the job that's never really done.
President Jenny Allen welcomed the gathering with a brief overview of committees and activities designed to better protect the lakes: The LakeSmart program, Courtesy Boat Inspections, water and sediment sampling, cleanups the second Sunday of each month, and keeping up to date on projects on the other Belgrade lakes, the watershed and the larger lakes community.
Representing the larger lakes community were guest speakers from the 7 Lakes Alliance: CEO Laura Rose Day, who described the operations and resources of the organization, Amy Eskins, who conducts the Plant Paddle programs, and Dr. Danielle Wain, who provided a water quality update.
Water quality along with water levels and the fisheries occupied the question and answer session that followed — topics close to home and near to a property owner's daily use of the lake and good reasons to get LakeSmart.
A presentation on LakeSmart strategies and activities by Kim and Dave Hallee, former president of MPSLA, provided a positive final note to an important meeting — the 30th anniversary of an association that has worked for three decades to preserve the lakes and increase the value of property.