June 15 – 21, 2012 Vol. 14, No. 2


Summertime in the Belgrades

June 15 – 21

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Inspecting Boats is First Line of Defense in Preventing Invasive Plants in Maine Lakes

With Memorial Day Weekend, the summer boating season has begun! And that means the Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed's Courtesy Boat Inspector Team will be greeting boaters at ten of the busiest launches throughout the watershed on weekends and holidays.

The Courtesy Boat Inspector (or CBI) staff consists of over twenty local high school and college-aged individuals who are trained to inspect boats entering and leaving the lake for any plant fragments. Any fragments that are considered "suspicious" of possibly being an invasive are sent to the Maine Center for Invasive Aquatic Plants for official identification.

This service is provided as a courtesy to lake boaters to hopefully prevent any invasive plants from entering the water body during peak recreational use periods, as well as to serve as an educational effort to encourage boat owners to inspect their own boats. Last year, the Friends CBI program inspected nearly 9,000 boats, with a total of over 50,000 boat inspections in the program's nine-year history!

While the numbers are impressive and the success of the program is evident in the current lack of invasive aquatic plant infestations in the majority of lakes and ponds in the Cobbossee Watershed (knock on wood!), long term viability will depend on an increasing responsibility taken by boat owners. As John McPhedran of the Maine DEP Invasive Species Program notes that considering the "approximate[ly] 120,000 boats registered in Maine for use on 5,700 inland waters, the odds are that the next confirmed infestation will occur beyond the reach of the CBI program."

This summer, the Friends CBI team will be encouraging all boaters to take the initiative to "check your boat before (and after) you float." If we make this simple procedure a natural step in launching our boats, and share this habit with others, we will double our efforts in preventing the spread of unwanted aquatic plants!

The Friends CBI program is funded by a combination of sources, including donations by local lake associations, surrounding towns, Friend's member donations, grants from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection via sales of the Maine Milfoil Sticker, and a grant from the Ram Island Conservation Fund of Maine Community Foundation. The program is also funded by several area business sponsors, including Knowlton Hewins & Roberts Funeral Homes, Smart Eyecare Center, Kristie Rowell Insurance Services, and LA Harley. For more information on Invasive Aquatic Plants or the Friends Courtesy Boat Inspector program, please call the Friends office at 621-4100.

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