by Dale Finseth
Buffers are not "one size fits all." Whenever designing a buffer for a landowner the first things to consider are the goals and objectives of the landowner. It does no good to install a planting that the homeowner dislikes. And it is depressing to install a buffer only to have the homeowner shear it down because it is in the way. The great thing about plants is that there are so many shapes and sizes to choose from. You can create a very effective buffer with plants that only reach a couple feet in height. If you have large trees, you can prune lower branches to create a window beneath the canopy.
Pet wastes can have a serious impact on the water quality of lakes and streams. Pet waste that washes into a lake uses up oxygen, releases ammonia, and can cause algae blooms and disease. Children, adults, and pets that spend time around or in the water are most at risk for the diseases and infections found in and caused by pet waste.
If you have pets, the best strategy is to keep a supply of plastic grocery bags on hand and do a cleanup every few days. The bags can be thrown away with the trash or contents can be buried away from the water, gardens, kids etc.
This is a tough one to answer without looking at the site but the first thing to decide is what type of erosion your shore is experiencing. Is it wave action or runoff from land that is causing the problem?
If it is runoff from a driveway, buildings or the lawn, buffers of various types may remedy the problem. Planting shore stabilizing vegetation with deep roots or allowing parts of a lawn to remain un-mowed will provide two types of protection. If you are planting or maintaining a vegetative buffer, combine the vegetation with a raised berm to help slow the flow and redirect storm water into the side yard, a rain garden or other area where it can seep into the ground more slowly.
If wave action or ice damage is the culprit, fixes may require some kind of armoring such as rock combined with stabilizing vegetation. Any armoring effort probably requires a permit. Contact your local town, Maine DEP or even the local YCC group for assistance.
There are two approaches to "fixing" these types of roads. There is the popular band-aid approach where money is spent each season on gravel to fix washouts disregarding why the road washes out. A better "Option B" is to find the reason for the washouts, fix them and then do some annual maintenance. The initial cost of "Option B" which could include a Gravel Road Management Plan, can be larger than the band-aid method but will save lots of money and aggravation in the long run. It also helps protect water quality over the long run.
The short answer is that they pollute much less than they used to. New, tougher restrictions on outboard emissions have caused the industry to create much more environmentally friendly products. Old motors that have not been retired yet still pollute much more than their newer cousins. Lakes have an amazing ability to clean themselves but an out of date, old, polluting outboard can have very detrimental effects on an average sized Maine lake. The good news is that newer outboards meet more and more strict standards and as old motors are replaced, lakes will have less and less pollution from outboard motors.
Conservation Too columns are written by staff at by the Kennebec County Soil and Water Conservation District in Augusta. For more information about the district and its projects, call Dale Finseth at