Thanks to Sarah Nelson for assisting with this article!
Located just off of the Appalachian trail, 2-acre Lloyd Pond is one of many remote waterbodies deep within the Maine Woods. It lies just north of Long Pond (see map below) and flows into the West Branch of the Pleasant River. Brook trout and Golden shiner have been documented from Lloyd Pond. However, for many of these remote ponds and lakes, we know little (often nothing) about their water quality and biology.
In 2021, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), with funding from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and in partnership with LSM, started a project to learn more about these remote ponds in the Maine Woods. AMC’s Maine Woods Initiative property, established in 2003 and now including the Pleasant River Headwaters Forest, is ~100,000 acres owned and managed by AMC as an ecoreserve, recreational facilities & trails, and sustainable forestry operations.
AMC ecologist Michael Macalus wrote about one of his recent forays to explore 11 ponds located deep within the 100-Mile Wilderness. Quoting Michael…”Many of the bodies of water in the Maine Woods hold a very unique and special attribute: they have experienced little to no human influence. This is quite rare, especially for the forests of the northeastern United States. The data I am collecting will allow us to begin to understand the “natural” conditions of lakes like these remote lakes, which serve as indicators—canaries in the coal mine—for other lakes in Maine, free from significant human impact. What make these data so special is that most lakes globally have been influenced one way or the other by boaters, frequent fishermen, beaches, historical or modern damming, development, and introduced species….”
READ Michael’s full article HERE!. (It’s billed as a “5-minute read” and is definitely worth it!)
The mission statement of Lake Stewards of Maine (LSM) is:
“to protect Maine lakes and to promote lake stewardship through widespread citizen participation in the gathering and dissemination of credible scientific information pertaining to lake health.
LSM trains, certifies and provides technical support to hundreds of volunteers who monitor a wide range of indicators of water quality, assess watershed health and function, and screen lakes for invasive aquatic plants and animals. In addition to being the primary source of lake data in the State of Maine, LSM volunteers benefit their local lakes by playing key stewardship and leadership roles in their communities.”
To ensure that the collected data are credible, LSM and Maine DEP have a rigorous Quality Assurance (QA) program in place. The first step in the QA happens when LSM receives data sheets from volunteers. LSM staff complete a first review of the information and then forward the data to DEP. The DEP staff then conduct a detailed review of all the data and enter the information into the agency’s central database. Once this is complete, DEP sends the electronic data files to LSM which are then added to the database in LakesofMaine.org for display and retrieval by site users. This process generally occurs each year.
This process is time-consuming under the best of circumstances - and of course the pandemic has not helped. However, it is essential for ensuring that the information is credible, and that it can be used with confidence by lake scientists, community lake groups, research institutions, local, state, regional and national resource protections agencies, planning commissions, and others.
Currently DEP is completing QA on the block of 2019-2021 water quality data. We understand that this information will be sent to LSM soon. Once we have received the updated data from DEP and have uploaded this information into LakesofMaine.org, we will post an announcement in this space! It will get here!
People often ask: What is the difference between a lake and a pond? Back in 2010, Linda Bacon (ME DEP) wrote an informative article in VLMP’s Water Column newsletter *. Quoting Linda, “One classic distinction is that sunlight penetrates to the bottom of all areas of a pond in contrast to lakes, which have deep waters that receive no sunlight at all. Another is that ponds generally have small surface areas and lakes have large surfaces…..Some of Maine’s large and deep bodies of water are indisputably lakes. Others are ponds – small and shallow. But there is a transition between the two where the definition becomes fuzzy…..The one distinction that has any legal application is the designation of a body of water as a Great Pond. Maine state statutes define lakes and ponds greater than ten acres in size as Great Ponds…..” Read more about the differences between lakes and ponds HERE.
A waterbody’s name, however, is certainly not a clear guide as to its biological / limnological status - as illustrated by these two waterbodies, both on Mount Desert Island. Some so-called Ponds are clearly lakes. Some so-called Lakes function more like ponds.
To delve further into how waterbody names (“lake” / “pond”) relate (or don’t) to size, take a look at this interactive graphic
Aug. 12 - Breana Bennett (Maine CDC) presents Heavy Metals, PFAS, Cyanotoxins in Maine Lakes - How Maine CDC determines much is too much chemical contamination in fish tissue and how that is considered in deriving fish consumption advisories? Also: What are challenges developing advisories for harmful algae blooms?
Click here to view current water quality conditions on a representative sample of Maine lakes during summer, or view which lakes have experienced ice-cover in the fall and ice-out in the spring.
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