Eyes on the Lakes

It feels like summer has arrived, and with the good weather comes the urge to go swimming, kayaking, canoeing, boating, and fishing. The beauty and related recreational pleasures of our lakes are what draw many of us to the area. We cannot take that beauty for granted because protecting our lakes in fact takes a lot of work. As discussed in past articles, LAON exists to keep our lakes healthy by doing regular water quality testing and an annual Invasive Plant Survey. Earlier this summer, LAON also started a CBI (Courtesy Boat Inspection) program in an effort to keep invasive plants from hitchhiking on boats into Lake Pennesseewassee.

Considering what is already being done to protect the lakes, I began to wonder how I could help. You might also be wondering how you could help keep our most valuable local resources healthy. An answer lies with volunteering to do early detection of invasive plants with a project called “Eyes on the Lakes.”

Hopefully we can organize an informal Invasive Plant Patrol (IPP), as part of a larger effort to have many “Eyes on the Lakes.” Our volunteer patrol is not to be confused with the highly trained professionals who monitor the entire shoreline of all our lakes after each summer season. We can become familiar with native plants, learn more about the threat of invasive aquatic plants, and all keep watch – thus becoming early detectors. It is easy. With some training and the use of an identification tool called “Quick Key to Spotting,” we can become effective “Eyes on the Lakes.”

I attended a workshop on how to conduct a “Plant Paddle” at the Annual Milfoil Conference in February. The Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program (VLMP) provides these workshops and courses to promote the concept of early detection. You can learn much more on VLMP’s website: mainevlmp.org. For instance, there is a very good video found under Invasive Plant Patrol Jump-Start. In 8 minutes, it explains how effective volunteers can be in keeping our lakes healthy. Take a few minutes to see for yourself.

Workshops called Invasive Plant Patrol are free to the public. I plan to attend an introductory workshop and then host a Plant Paddle locally in August. I hope some of you will join me to learn identification and help with the Plant Paddle, or, possibly, even lead a Plant Paddle from your own cove. It would be optimal if we could have paddlers from all four of Norway’s lakes.
Everyone, young and old, can help. Maybe you don’t do any boating but would like to help classify plant samples, or maybe you would prefer to make water scopes. What could be better than enjoying being on a lake and helping our lakes at the same time? So far much has been done by a few.

To learn more… To get involved… To make a difference…. VOLUNTEER!!

Come to LAON’s annual meeting on Saturday, June 27th, at 9am, at the Town Office on 19 Danforth Street (behind the Norway Savings Bank] and/or contact me at laon@norwaylakes.org.
By Lynn Girifalco