Invasive Plants (Variable Milfoil)
The STOP Milfoil program is a collaboration between Belgrade Lakes Association (BLA) and 7 Lakes Alliance. It has raised funds since 2011 to combat variable milfoil in Great Pond.
Invasive variable milfoil was found in Great Pond in 2009. The STOP Milfoil program was created to keep the invasive plants from spreading to other parts of Great Pond as well as other lakes. It includes milfoil removal, Adopt-A-Shoreline, Courtesy Boat Inspections, and Plant Paddles.
PREVENTION AND EDUCATION
Adopt-A Shoreline is a program that enlists and trains volunteers from the community to survey their shorelines. The volunteers are educated on how to find and identify invasive aquatic plants, specifically invasive variable milfoil. Adopt-A-Shoreline is working to adopt the entire 77 miles of shoreline at risk in Great Pond and Long Pond.
Volunteers come to the Maine Lakes Resource Center and learn about 11 of Maine’s most unwanted invaders. Using live plant samples, volunteers learn how to identify aquatic plants. Volunteers also receive resources like waterproof identification cards to help them identify plants during their survey.
Adopt-A-Shoreline is encouraged for anyone who lives on Great Pond or Long Pond, but everyone is welcome to come and learn about invasive aquatic plants to protect their own waterbodies.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What does surveying entail?
A: We ask that you survey your adopted shoreline twice a summer, ideally during peak growing season (July and August). The best way to survey is to snorkel back and forth the length of shoreline. Using a snorkel, it is very easy to find and identify plants. Another great option is to kayak or canoe along the shoreline and look into the water using an Aquascope or other underwater viewing device.
Q: What if I am not confident in identifying plants?
A: We are happy to help you learn and receive emails of pictures of plants! Our milfoil crew also surveys the shoreline for invasive plants and would be happy to stop by your shoreline and double check!
Q: My shoreline is already adopted! What can I do?
A: Adopt-A-Shoreline relies on teamwork and many sections of adopted shoreline are a group effort by road associations and neighbors.
Q: I don’t live on Great Pond or Long Pond but I want to protect my shoreline. What can I do?
A: Come to a training session at the Maine Lakes Resource Center and we are happy to provide the same materials and resources for other lakes in the watershed!
Invasive plant patrol does not stop on Great Pond and Long Pond! 7 Lakes Alliance leads plant paddles on East Pond, North Pond, Salmon Lake, and McGrath Pond. Using aquascopes and snorkels, a group of 7 Lakes Alliance staff, volunteers, and lake association members search the lake for invasive plants. We are always looking for more volunteers to help on plant paddles; even if you do not live on the waterbody that is being surveyed, we need your help. Plant paddles are a fun way to kayak with purpose! To volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Courtesy Boat Inspections (CBI)
Maine is in a critical time in terms of invasive plants. Our lakes and ponds tend to be much colder which slows the spread of these species, but as global temperatures rise, so do the opportunities for future infestations. Maine is in an auspicious position where invasive issues can be addressed or even prevented before they become critical. Great efforts have been made to prevent the introduction of new invasive plants as well as limit the spread of existing ones to other Maine waters.
The first lines of defense in combating this issue are prevention and education. The Courtesy Boat Inspection program developed through the Maine Department of Environmental Protection is the first defense against invaders. A cost-share grant funded by Preserve Maine Waters’ “milfoil sticker,” lake associations, local towns, BLA’s Stop Milfoil program and generous donors provide the financial support for the CBI program. The purpose of these voluntary inspections is to reduce the spread of invasive aquatic plants by boats, trailers, and associated equipment to Maine waters. CBIs offer boaters assistance in inspecting both motorized and non-motorized, trailer and other equipment entering as well as leaving the water. This program provides an opportunity to connect and educate the community on the impact of invasive aquatic species as well as urge boaters to regularly inspect their boats to ensure that they are not vessels for transport.
7 Lakes Alliance has a mixture of paid and volunteer CBIs that cover the five ponds in the Belgrade Lakes region including Long Pond, Great Pond, North Pond, East Pond, and Salmon Lake. These CBIs cover the boat launches 7 days a week from Memorial Weekend unto Labor Day Weekend. In 2018, 9,494 boats were inspected between the five boat launches. 411 plant fragments were recovered, two of which were invasive.
Maine is becoming more and more vulnerable to invaders, and there are several things that can be done to ensure the future of Maine’s freshwater habitat:
Check for and remove all plants from boats, motors, trailers, and fishing equipment before and after launch.
Know your lakes. Avoid areas that have known infestations.
Activities such as fishing can create fragments and spread the infestation to other areas.
Clean: plant debris, mud, and algae from all boating and fishing gear and dispose of in the trash
Drain: live well, bilge water, and engine water away from the waterbody
Dry: any gear that comes into contact with the water.
Become a volunteer CBI
Become trained to recognize invasive plants through the Lakes Stewards of Maine.
Adopt your Shoreline
Keep your eyes on the water and join a plant paddle.
The Invasive Milfoil removal crew works throughout the summer in Great Pond and on Belgrade Stream looking for and removing variable milfoil. They use multiple methods including Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting (DASH), hand pulling, and benthic barriers. Using many years of expertise, our team makes evidence-based decisions on how to combat and control the invasive variable milfoil infestation in Great Pond.
2018 Milfoil Update
The threat of variable milfoil is still very much alive. The discovery this summer of Eurasian milfoil and European Frogbit only 15 miles away in Cobbossee Lake was a scary reminder of the importance of our efforts to prevent invasive milfoil and other invasive plants. The STOP Milfoil crew was out all summer protecting our watershed from invasive aquatic plants. They snorkeled miles of shoreline, hauled pounds of milfoil, and worked in waist-deep muck. The STOP Milfoil crew is not only certified to look for variable milfoil, but all 13 invasive plant species threatening Maine’s waters.
In 2018, the crew removed 16,800 gallons of variable milfoil using diver assisted suction harvesting (DASH), and with the help of New England Milfoil. 7 Lakes Alliance hired seven crew members to survey, identify, and remove variable milfoil. The crew also deployed benthic barriers--tarps weighed down with rebar--to starve the plants of sunlight over 45-90 days. The barriers are then removed. Although benthic barriers effectively kill invasive plants, they are not ideal for many situations including shallow areas, streams with current, and high boat traffic areas.
Prevention is still the most critical and cost-effective way to control invasive aquatic plants! The STOP Milfoil crew surveyed the entire shoreline of Great Pond and Long Pond. Roughly 50% of the shoreline was snorkeled, and the rest was paddled and observed through Aquascopes. Trained volunteers also helped survey shoreline through our Adopt-A-Shoreline Program.
The STOP Milfoil crew did not find any new infestations! However, the infestation in Great Meadow Stream is thriving, aided by low-water levels and abundant sunshine. Variable milfoil persists in other known locations such as Robbins Mills and Rome Trout Brook. The focus of our efforts is to remove as much as possible and to contain and prevent the spread of the infestation. Without these serious and ongoing removal efforts, the infestations likely would have doubled or even tripled in size. Throughout New England, including our own Belgrade Lakes, there are numerous reminders that, without vigilance--invasives spread rapidly, ruining swimming, boating, wildlife habitat, and property values. We are analyzing results and working with the DEP and other experts to develop the most impactful and cost-effective approach to fight back against milfoil in 2019.
- October 2018, Lauren Pickford & Sharon Mann