This morning I had the pleasure of attending the 11th annual Maine Milfoil Summit held at the University of Southern Maine, Lewiston-Auburn. The summit was sponsored by the Congress of Lakes Associations, Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed, Lakes Environmental Association, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Portland Water District and Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program.
The intention of the summit was to update folks about the ongoing efforts to fight variable-leaf milfoil, an invasive species.
Highlights of the summit:
-Maine Milfoil Consortium, a project based at Saint Joseph's College, is working to expand resources for combating milfoil in Maine lakes. Jackey Bailey, Director and Researcher for the Consortium, explained that the mission is to address the milfoil infestation threat through a focused program of prevention, research, management, mitigation and eradication through the application of "best practices."
-The Consortium recently received $500,000 from Congress to mitigate, study and hopefully eradicate variable-leaf milfoil in seven test lakes. The test lakes are Sebago Lake and Little Sebago in Cumberland County, Messalonskee Lake and Pleasant Pond in Kennebec County, Shagg Pond/Lake Christopher and Thompson Lake in Oxford County and Lake Arrowhead in York County.
-Currently 32 lakes in Maine are infested with invasive aquatic plants. "Twenty-six are infested with variable-leaf milfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum), two with Eurasian water milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), two with hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata), one with curly-leaf pondweed (Potamogeton crispus) and one with European naiad (Najas minor). ~Maine DEP, Feb 26, 2010
- Milfoil can de-stablize the fundamental ecology of lakes vital to recreational boaters, homeowners, businesses and visitors by inhibiting recreational activities and reducing property values.
-one way the Consortium will share information is through technology. All are welcome to join http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mainemilfoilinitiative. The Consortium will also create an online database to collect and share data and map infestations, which will track milfoil population growth and mitigation.
-Best practices currently being used are Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting (D.A.S.H.) and Benthic Barriers or a combination of the two. In the years ahead, these practices will be tweaked. A D.A.S.H. workshop will occur in late spring. For more information Lakes Environmental Association.
-Boat wash stations are great, but stewardship should come first. Peter Lowell, Executive Director of Lakes Environmental Association, noted that "people drive by and feel guilty that they don't use them." His hope is that eventually the five boat wash stations in the Greater Bridgton Lakes Region will go from being expensive bill boards to being used effectively. A quick spray doesn't wash the plants off.
-Roberta Hill, Program Director for Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program's Center for Invasive Aquatic Plants, explained that over 2,000 people have been trained to identify invasive plants in Maine, though not as many help conduct formal research. Her suggestion when someone thinks he's found an invasive species is to take a photo and/or call a trained monitor who knows how to collect a sample, rather than simply plucking the plant. More information is available at the Web site.