August 3 – 9, 2012 Vol. 14, No. 9


Summertime in the Belgrades

August 3 – 9

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How is the Milfoil Being Removed and What Does it All Cost?

by Lynn Matson

The heart of the 2012 Stop Milfoil Action Plan is the field work that is being conducted in Great Meadow Stream and North Bay of Great Pond. Two primary control methods are being employed. The first is digging up and removing the entire milfoil plant including the plant roots. The second is laying down benthic barriers, large pieces of geotextile material weighted with rebar, on the bottom to prevent the plants from growing back.

This work is being done by two teams. The first is New England Milfoil, a professional dive company based in Brownfield, Maine. They have three divers in the water hand digging the milfoil and an operator stationed on their Diver Assisted Suction Harvester (or DASH) boat. This specialized piece of equipment uses a pump attached to long flexible hoses to vacuum up the milfoil plants that have been dug out by the divers and flush them into fine mesh bags for disposal. The DASH boat significantly increases the productivity of the divers.

The second team is made up of Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance (BRCA) summer employees and a Colby College summer intern. They are hand pulling milfoil in the more difficult areas where it is intertwined with native vegetation and installing the benthic barriers. Two members of this team are also surveying both Great and Long Pond looking for plant fragments and new milfoil infestations. The good news is that to date they have not found any milfoil growing outside of North Bay and Great Meadow Stream.

Stop Milfoil Capital Campaign

The reality is all this work costs money, lots of it. It appears now that approximately $250,000 will be spent this year to remove the milfoil from Great Meadow Stream and North Bay and to increase public awareness of the milfoil infestation. To raise this money the Milfoil Task Force launched the "BLA — Stop Milfoil" Capital Campaign last March. All donations go into a special account and are only being used to fund this milfoil work. To date, $154,470 has been raised. Much more is needed.

2012 is a critical year in this fight against milfoil both in terms of controlling the infestation and funding the work. By removing 90-95% of the plant material this summer we should be able to control it next year with less work and less expense. But if we don't stop it right now, the whole infestation will get much worse both in terms of the milfoil spreading throughout our lakes and the costs of trying to manage it.

Your Support Is Needed

The community really needs to step up right now. Help is needed in two critical areas. The first is for volunteers in kayaks and canoes to net and remove milfoil plant fragments in North Bay and Great Meadow Stream. Here's why this is so important: New England Milfoil will continue pulling milfoil through the end of September but the BRCA team members will wrap up their work by the end of August when they go back to college. That means volunteers are going to have to step in for the whole month of September to net fragments around the work site to make sure they don't get out into the lake and cause new infestations. If you can volunteer please call BRCA Milfoil Program Coordinator Toni Pied at 512-5554.

Additional funds are also needed to pay for the milfoil mitigation work. Over 200 individuals have donated to date. Their support is greatly appreciated. If you haven't given yet, please consider making a donation. Every gift helps. Make a check payable to "BLA — Stop Milfoil" and drop it off at the Maine Lakes Resource Center in Belgrade Lakes Village or mail it to BLA, P.O. Box 551, Belgrade Lakes, Maine 04918. You can also donate online. Thank you.

Great Pond Action Update

Working primarily in Great Meadow Stream, New England Milfoil removed 3,880 gallons of milfoil last week. The BRCA team hand pulled an additional 1600 gallons. To date this summer, 27,880 gallons have been removed. That's almost nine times the total removed in 2010 and 2011 combined.