Written by Sheila Grant: DEXTER – There are some sneaky little hitchhikers intent on ruining Maine waterways. Luckily, an army of volunteers is out to stop them. Something as innocent as boating in an infested water body and then visiting one that is not infested without thoroughly checking propellers and fishing gear can help spread invasive aquatic plants.
These undesirables, known as Maine's Eleven Most Unwanted, are: European frogbit, water chestnut, yellow floating heart, Eurasian water milfoil, variable water milfoil, parrot feather, fanwort, hydrilla, Brazilian elodea, European naiad and curly-leaved pondweed. Introduction of invasive species can result in habitat disruption, loss of native plant and animal communities, reduced property values, poor fishing and a less enjoyable recreational experience by all. Once an invasive is well established, eradication is difficult (sometimes impossible) and expensive.
Since 2003, the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program has been providing training for volunteers who wish to help monitor Maine's waterways and provide inspections of watercraft. More than 3,000 volunteers have been trained, including Dan Hutchins of Guilford.
"As a member of the Dexter Lakes Association and a camp owner at Lake Wassookeag, I became interested in keeping this beautiful lake of ours from being polluted," said Hutchins. "This is my second year as a volunteer for the Maine Lake Volunteer Monitoring Program."
Hutchins attended a one-day training at University of Maine at Orono to learn how to identify invasive aquatic plant species, how they travel and other vital information.
"Maine has a list of 11 unwanted invasive aquatic plants," he said. "Variable water milfoil is probably the one that people have heard of the most. They grow very rapidly and in time will cover much of the surface of a lake, and are very difficult to get rid of – much worse than the weeds in our gardens! So prevention is the best solution."
Volunteers monitor lake shores, perform period inspections of boats arriving at landings of various water bodies, and do an annual inspection of lakes and ponds via canoe and kayak.
"My camp is on Bear Lane, just off the Bugbee Road on the small lake, so I volunteered to do the small lake," said Hutchins. And because his grandson is active with the Cub Scouts, Hutchins invited Sangerville Pack No. 61, along with a couple of camp neighbors, to help with the inspection this year.
"Early in the morning when the water is calm and smooth is a good time to inspect because of visibility," said Hutchins. "On any nice day this is a fun job, and even more fun when there's a gang to help. The group was very lucky, heading out on October 9 when temperatures hovered at a very unseasonable high 70s.
"We spent a beautiful Sunday morning collecting all the water plants that we could find growing from the shore to four feet deep, or what could be reached with a rake," he said. "Then we used the 'Maine Field Guide' to identify the 12 different plants that we collected from our three-hour paddle."
Fortunately, all the plants were welcome varieties.
"We identified pickerel weed, large-leaf pond weed, northern wild rice, bur-weed and one that has a yellow flower with large heart-shaped floating leaves that many call a water lily, but that is actually called a spatterdock or cow lily," said Hutchins. "Last year, we found several patches of algae floating on the cove near the boat landing. Algae is a sign of pollution. This year we didn't find any."
Hutchins said he is grateful to Scoutmasters Ken Kimball and Deane Sprague and the scouts for the help and good company. Participants also included Buddy Hutchins, Shawn Kimball, Nason McLeish, David McLeish, Nick Hutchins, Owen Bennett, Aaron Bennett, Cal Sprague, Garrett Kimball, Alex Millette and Harris Millette.
For more information on the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program and identification of invasive aquatic plants, visit www.mainevlmp.org."This content originally appeared as a copyrighted article in the SVWeekly.com and is used here with permission."
|Back to News||Home||Print This Story|