Mission Not Impossible – A mid-summer update and an Invitation

by Sal Girifalco – Published in the Advertiser Democrat on Aug 20, 2015

Yesterday, I overheard the comment, “Summer is almost over!”  Where has the time gone?  Well, since May, LAON has been working on several projects associated with the two primary threats to the health of our lakes: algae, and invasive plants.  Here are some updates on these projects.

We will discuss algae in future articles, but for now, it is enough to know that algae is fed by phosphorus, which largely comes from watershed runoff. We are in the early stages of organizing watershed surveys where teams are trained to look for problems that can affect runoff. Algae is not a trivial problem to fix. To get a better understanding of this serious issue, I ask you to go to the “Healthy Lakes Articles” section of our website for the article on Belgrade Lakes. This very pertinent article will provide an appreciation of algae’s impact on a nearby lake. Let us know if you can take part.

The other big threat to our lakes is invasive plants. We have an abundance of native aquatic plants which protect water quality, provide habitats for wildlife, and enhance the beauty of our lakes. BUT we also have some invasive plants which are NOT native plants. A very small amount of one of these plants can take over and destroy the delicate ecosystem in our lakes. Of the 11 aquatic plants on Maine’s invasive list, five are in nearby lakes and ponds. It is very alarming that, while many lakes have Courtesy Boat Inspectors (CBIs) who check boats for any plants, almost half of Maine’s infested lakes do not have any inspections. Also, our neighboring states have much worse infestations than Maine, and their boats visit our lakes.

Our CBIs, which are only at Lake Pennesseewassee, have been quite busy, having inspected over 1,100 boats, with more than 400 of those being from other lakes. Those inspections found and removed plants 19 times. Of course, preventing the invasion is best, but we cannot inspect every boat on every lake, so we will always be at some risk. Early detection is also needed because the cost and time needed to address a problem is then much lower, with a far higher chance of containing, or possibly eradicating it.

Early detection is where everyone can play a role. We are asking for volunteers on each lake to form a squadron of Invasive Plant Patrol boats (IPP). This is an informal group of people who, in the course of recreational canoeing or kayaking, look at the water for any suspicious plants. If something catches a patroller’s eye, they would collect a small sample for further analysis. This is an easy way for many people to play a role in protecting our lakes. It is part of the concept called “Eyes on the Lakes”. The more eyes, the better.

To introduce people to IPP, there will be a “Plant Paddle” on August 15th.  At this informational get together, we will demonstrate quick identification techniques that we can use on any paddling excursions. It is not necessary to canoe or kayak to participate. We hope you can be part of IPP.

If you would like to join us in any of our efforts, please rsvp by email, or call 207-743-1808.  Hope to see you!

LAON is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to

preserving the health and beauty of our lakes.

Visit us at www.norwaylakes.org, email: laon@norwaylakes.org, like us on Facebook