"Spreading but manageable," is the assessment by Peter Kallin, Executive Director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance (BRCA) of the variable leaf milfoil infestation in the Great Meadow Stream Outlet on Great Pond's North Bay. Three days of hand-pulling by roughly a dozen volunteers from several of the Belgrade lakes removed 230 gallons of milfoil; Kallin anticipates another three days of pulling, the installment of two benthic barriers, and basically a "wait and see" approach to determine how fast the milfoil is spreading.
First discovered in July of this year in Great Meadow Stream just south of the Route 225 bridge on the Smithfield/Rome line, the milfoil infestation appeared to be limited. Not until the actual pulling took place the last week in August was the extent of the milfoil discovered — described by some of the pullers as presenting an extensive spread of 20 by 30 foot mats well into the mouth of Great Pond — beyond what pullers can do.
According to Kallin, although the Great Meadow Stream area is checked periodically for milfoil, the problem is identification. Three or four native milfoil species inhabit the area and variable leaf closely resembles them.
It also can appear similar to the native plant blatterwort on the surface. Not until it forms mats that block out these other plants is it positively identified in marshy areas such as North Bay. The other factor that inhibits identification in this area is the silt on the bottom which is easily disturbed and prevents visibility.
Kallin speculates that the infestation may have occurred when a boat with milfoil on it, perhaps from Lake Messalonskee, may have put in at the Route 225 bridge. The access point is a popular, unmonitored site that comes under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation and would be difficult to close.
As the Great Meadow Stream infestation is targeted for more pulling, and as invasive plant surveys are scheduled for boat landings and susceptible areas throughout the Belgrades, the need for more volunteers is a serious priority. The hard-working team that showed up on Great Pond had one volunteer from that lake, four from East Pond, one from North Pond, two from Salmon Lake, one from Messalonskee, a student from Russia, and Pete Kallin and Corrine Dawson from the BRCA. Definitely, more people are needed. To help, please contact the BRCA at 495-6039.
On September 15, 2010, the Maine Departments of Environmental Protection and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife imposed a Surface Use Restriction barring motorboats from the stretch of Great Meadow Stream between the the Route 225 bridge and the mouth on the stream in North Bay in Great Pond. On July 1, the restriction was continued at least until the lake freezes in late fall or early winter and was extended to encompass a small portion of North Bay, delimited by yellow buoys.