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Friday, November 13, 2020

In the late summer of 2020, the invasive plant, variable water-milfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum) was found in Androscoggin Lake by volunteer Invasive Plant Patroller, Katherine Mahoney. In response, a coalition of local, regional and statewide partners leapt into action.

The coalition included 30 Mile River Watershed Association, Androscoggin Lake Improvement Corporation, Lake Stewards of Maine, and Department of Environmental Protection and a dedicated team of volunteer Invasive Plant Patrollers.

This video captures the majesty of the imperiled lake and the actions of those who are working to save it.

More information about Androscoggin Lake invasion can be found in the November 2020 lake of the month HERE.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020:
The best-laid plans...
Big Lake, invasive milfoil & COVID-19

Big Lake is in the very heart of the Passamaquoddy Tribe’s ancestral homeland. Located in and around the town of Grand Lake Stream, near the border with New Brunswick, the lake is part of a sprawling and much larger - roughly 17,000 acre - system known for its remote, wilderness beauty and extraordinary fishing.

In October of last year, an urgent message from Joe Musante (a biologist with the Passamaquoddy Environmental Department) arrived at LSM headquarters. The invasive aquatic plant, Variable-leaf milfoil, had recently been observed for the first time in Big Lake.

The average depth of Big Lake is only 12 feet. This means that the littoral zone extends far out from shore along much of the lake’s 70-plus miles of shoreline. In addition to the vast shallows, the lake is rich in tributaries, coves and islands (28 islands to be exact!), all of which further increases the potential for invasive plants to move about unseen, while steadily gaining ground.

Given the pristine nature of this aquatic wilderness, intensive planning soon started to conduct a major invasive plant survey of the lake this summer. This would involve the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, IPP volunteers and, of course, LSM... However, Covid-19 has thrown a wrench into these plans and the planned mobilization of LSM-led volunteers to conduct a complete level-3 survey of Big Lake was postponed. Warning buoys have been placed in Clifford Bay to help boaters steer clear of known infested areas.

This summer for the first time, Downeast Lakes Land Trust staff have been conducting Courtesy Boat Inspections at Big Lake's primary public boat landing. In addition to inspecting boats launching into and leaving the lake, the CBIs are helping to educate boaters to the threat of aquatic invaders and what boaters can do to help prevent their spread.

This August, experienced solo adventurer and certified LSM Invasive Plant Patroller, Lucy Leaf, took it upon herself to travel alone to the Downeast Lakes Region to conduct screening surveys of some of Big Lake's surrounding waterbodies. (To be clear, working alone on the water is not EVER recommended by LSM, but Lucy was determined and we are very grateful for her efforts.) As a result of Lucy's work, small patches of variable-leaf milfoil have now been confirmed in downstream Lewey Lake and Long Lake. The spread of the infestation to downstream waters is very bad news indeed, but by finding these (possible) pioneer colonies early, Lucy has provided the Big Lake community with a window of opportunity to remove these new colonies before they become well established, so that the larger infestation may be contained.

DEP staff, working with local stakeholders will be conducting a major survey of Long Lake this September to get a better handle on the full extent of the infestation in Long Lake itself, in preparation for directing some targeted control operations later this fall. A group of property owners on Big Lake is also now organizing to help address the threat at the local level. LSM will contribute to this goal by providing a special online training in September, focused on the identification of variable watermilfoil and its common native lookalikes, to help broaden the local engagement in this effort to the widest extent possible.

Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program