Milfoil Conference

Recently, five representatives of the Lakes Association of Norway (LAON) participated in the 16th Annual Maine Milfoil Summit sponsored by the Lakes Environmental Association at the Lewiston campus of the University of Southern Maine. The highlight of the program was the seven-member panel discussion on a timely and disturbing question: “Should infested lakes be closed to public access?”

Lake closing is a very difficult decision to make since there are many “pros” and “cons” to each option. The bottom line is that the state retains the right to close infested lakes if deemed appropriate. Speakers on the panel included: Michael Brown of the Department of Inland Fisheries Waterways, John McPhedran of the Department of Environmental Protection, Charles Wilson of Maine Bass Nation, Gene Spender of LIPPC/Lovell, Toni Pied of the BRCC/Belgrade, and Mike Fitzpatrick of the Lake Arrowhead Conservation Council. Mr. Fitzpatrick’s comments were the most alarming to this writer.

Mr. Fitzpatrick voiced his deep concern over the practice of any fishing person or group entering lakes that had been infested but with special emphasis on the Bass fishing tournaments. Since 2007, Mr. Fitzpatrick’s property on Arrowhead Lake has lost approximately 32 percent of its appraised value due to the infestation of milfoil and other invasive plants. This invasion caused the lake to become undesirable for those who might have wished to enjoy what was once a pristine country body of water. Not only has the devaluation had a significant negative impact on any possible resale of his family property, it has also caused all other non-Lake Arrowhead property owners, individuals and business owners, to assume a far greater portion of the tax obligations of the town. He warned that this could happen to any town in Maine that has a lake.

LAON exits for the sole purpose of protecting Norway’s lakes, ponds, and watershed area. This includes keeping invasive plants out, regular monitoring of water quality, and public education on preserving our clean lake and ponds. This can only be accomplished through a program of engaging everyone in Norway, including visitors who enjoy swimming, boating, or fishing here, in keeping our lakes and ponds clean and healthy. We believe strongly in our motto of, “HEALTHY LAKES = HEALTHY COMMUNITIES = HEALTHY BUSINESSES.”

We all have a stake in keeping our community healthy and hope all readers of this article will consider becoming a LAON member or sponsor. For without our lake and ponds, where would we be?

We will be starting a voluntary our boat inspection program, and will be hiring part time boat inspectors from early May until late September If you are interested, please email us at the addresses below, or call the Norway Town office at 207-743-6651 and ask for Deb Partridge (leave a message if she is not available).

By Tom Curtis

LAON is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the health and beauty of our lakes.

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