August 24 – Fall, 2012 Vol. 14, No. 12


Summertime in the Belgrades

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2012 Milfoil Action Plan Assessment

by Lynn Matson

With summer winding down and this year's milfoil work in Great Pond coming to an end, it's a good time to do an assessment. Just what have we accomplished and what do we face in the future?

Overall, it's been a very good year on several fronts. Almost 40,000 gallons of invasive milfoil have been removed from Great Meadow Stream and North Bay in Great Pond. That's about 80 pick-up truckloads and over 12 times more than was removed in 2010 and 2011 combined. These are impressive numbers, but also an indication of just how fast this infestation has grown in just three years.

With the support of Maine state officials, the milfoil-infested areas were closed to all watercraft to help minimize fragmentation of the plants and to afford maximum safety to the divers and milfoil workers operating in the area. The Stop Milfoil Capital Campaign has raised over $160,000 from 220 individual donors with a good prospect of new contributions to come. Thank you for your support. Two hundred fifty thousand dollars (250,000) will be spent this year on the milfoil fight, so the fund raising will go on.

The public awareness and knowledge of milfoil and the threat it poses for our community have increased significantly. Everyone needs to know how to identify it and be vigilant for new outbreaks on our lakes.

Many organizations, including the BLA, BRCA, and Maine COLA have pulled together along with Colby College and the Belgrade business community to develop and implement our Stop Milfoil action plan and work with state officials. It's been a very effective team effort.

The new Maine Lakes Resource Center in Belgrade Lakes Village opened its doors last summer just weeks before it was learned that the milfoil had spread into North Bay of Great Pond. Since that time the MLRC has become an active partner in the fight and the MLRC has become the center for all task force activities, meetings and public information.

The Belgrade Lakes community has responded to the milfoil problem in a very effective manner. Local citizens and non-resident property owners have come together to raise questions, scrutinize practices, offer solutions, volunteer time, challenge state and local officials and hold information and fund raising events. Keep it up. We're all in this together.

Finally we've had the benefit of some very dedicated milfoil workers. The BRCA leadership and field team have done a tremendous job. The New England Milfoil divers have been working ten-hour days since late May. Given their success, their contract has been extended to include three additional weeks in September. By the time they finish, over 95% of the invasive milfoil will have been removed from the stream and North Bay.

Maine DEP officials have commended this milfoil response and stated that it is the best organized and most aggressive they have seen in the state. But the question still remains if this strong action will be enough to stop the milfoil invasion in the future.

What Does the Future Hold?

In short, we can be very proud of the battle that has been fought, but this milfoil war is a long way from over. The reality is that the invasive milfoil in Great Meadow Stream and North Bay will likely never be fully eradicated. The milfoil is too well established in these areas.

This is going to be an ongoing fight. As a next step, the Stop Milfoil Task Force will work with state DEP officials to do a final assessment this fall as a basis for putting together the 2013 action plan. But we'll be battling milfoil for years to come. And it's going to be up to the local community and local governments to wage this war.

The goal of the milfoil program is very simple: to keep it from spreading to other parts of Great Pond and to other nearby lakes. Removing 40,000 gallons of milfoil this season reduced the likelihood of its spreading. So did closing the infested areas to boat traffic. So does teaching the public to identify milfoil so they can be spot any new breakouts. So does setting up an "Adopt A Shoreline" program so shorefront property owners can take responsibility for checking for invasive plants. So does continuation of our Courtesy Boat Inspector program. And so does finding a sustainable funding model.

This fight has to go on because our lakes are the heart of this community. They are loved and cherished by all, and it's our responsibility to protect and preserve them for the generations to come. We've got to win this milfoil battle and keep if from taking over our lakes. If everyone continues to support this effort, we can do it.