One of the main reasons the Lakes Association of Norway exists is to prevent invasive species from entering our lakes. Invasive species are plants and animals from other parts of the world that destroy ecosystems by outcompeting native species. Invasive species often find the conditions in a new environment are good for them. Having few or no natural enemies, they will deplete resources like space or nutrients.
The consequences can be devastating. Restoring ecosystems is not only costly (hundreds of thousands of dollars), it may not even be possible. People want to live in our area because of its natural beauty. Invasive aquatic species could change that by disrupting native habitats. The biggest threat is invasive plants, like Milfoil, which can quickly choke the water with virulent growth. The results can be poor water quality, loss of recreational swimming, boating, and fishing, reduced property values, fewer visitors, declining employment, and people moving away.
Norway’s lakes have been lucky so far. We do not yet have problems with invasives, but many of our neighbors, like Thompson Lake, Pleasant Lake, and Parker Pond, have. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has posted maps of lakes plagued by infestations of aquatic invasive plants. Visit the “Water Quality” section of our website (www.norwaylakes.org) to view the maps.
Invasive aquatic species can enter lakes by accident through hitching rides on boats, trailers, and on items used in the water such as clothes, paddles, fishing gear, anchors, and water toys. A quarter of an inch can start an infestation. It is absolutely critical that visitors conduct a full inspection of their boat and all gear before entering or when leaving any lake, especially after visiting an infested lake. There is no other way to ensure that all plant matter is removed.
Some species have been introduced intentionally through illegal dumping of unused bait, releases of fish from garden ponds, ornamental plants, or cleaning aquariums. Even schools and museums have been the source of invasives in some areas through careless disposal of specimens.
There are many things we can do to protect our lakes from the threat of invasive species:
- Most importantly, clean your boat after use in any water body.
- If you own a water garden, stock it only with native species.
- Aquarium enthusiasts and teachers, please do not purchase plants or animals that are restricted
- Never release any organisms into lakes or streams (don’t dump bait).
- Become a volunteer with LAON.
LAON will be starting a voluntary boat inspection program and will be hiring part time boat inspectors for the season from early May until late September, If you are interested, please email us at the address below, or call the Norway Town office at 207-743-6651 and ask for Deb Partridge (leave a message if she is not available).
For more information on invasive species visit these websites:
By Stephan Zeeman
LAON is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the health and beauty of our lakes.
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