Courtesy Boat Inspections

Our First Line of Defense.

“Milfoil’s aptly been called the AIDS of lakes. Like AIDS, it’s easily spread and almost impossible to control. Once a lake becomes infested, the only way to treat the spread of milfoil is by hiring divers to pull it out by hand. That’s an expensive proposition and there is no way divers can get every piece. As with AIDS, without constant and expensive treatment (emphasis added), a lake infested with milfoil will slowly die. Barton Cove, which had looked so good hidden in the morning mist, now looked dead, which explained why the eagle was flying so high. It was looking for another place to fish.” – Two Coots in a Canoe by David E. Morine (2009)

The quotation was taken from a nonfiction book about two older men travelling the length of the Connecticut River. The grim description of what occurred in Barton Cove could easily become true in our lake and ponds. LAON started a program utilizing the employment of Courtesy Boat Inspectors (CBIs) to prevent that from happening.

CBIs check boats for any “aquatic hitchhikers” that can infest our waters. Additional treatments now exist, such as buying suction boats, putting huge light blocking barriers on the lake bottom, or using hazardous chemicals, but they are all very expensive and rarely a cure.

LAON will employ members of the Norway community as inspectors to be at the Lake Pennesseewassee boat ramp at the busiest hours. We anticipate that CBIs will be on duty between 7 AM and 7 PM on weekends and holidays, and early mornings and late afternoons during the week. We may adjust this schedule as we learn boaters’ routines.

We are undertaking this effort because invasive species have infested many bodies of water in New England. Since the State of Maine recognized the danger years ago and has been supporting other CBI programs, we have not suffered as much as our neighboring states. Unfortunately, Maine does already have significant infestations in some lakes, including nearby Thompson Lake. Boaters from infested waters in Maine and other states can transport the problem by carrying harmful invasive plant fragments into our lakes. We intend to get ahead of what could occur in Norway.

The duties of the CBIs are to: greet the boater; explain the purpose of the inspection; record relevant boat information; and ask the boater to accompany them while they conduct a quick but methodical inspection of the boat and trailer. If plant life is found, the boater is asked to remove it, away from the water. Any plant life will be placed in a plastic bag for further analysis at a State Lab. This is not a confrontational experience. Most boaters understand the importance of protecting the lakes and comply with the 5-6 minute delay. Additionally, the inspections help the boater because there is a fine in the thousands of dollars for transporting ANY PLANT LIFE on a boat or trailer in Maine.

What can responsible boaters, kayakers, canoeists or jet-skiers and lovers of our pristine bodies of water do?  Commit to having your boat, trailer and vehicle inspected for the sake of our lakes, our businesses and our community. If a CBI is not on duty, you can inspect your boat yourself.  (The large sign at the boat ramp shows how to do it.)  We are all in this together!

By Tom Curtis