The Highland Lake Association (HLA) is a registered 501(3)(c) non-profit organization, started in 1989. Our organization is staffed by volunteers from around the lake and is supported by our member dues. Our mission is to preserve, enhance, and protect the natural resources of Highland Lake and its watershed. The HLA has established itself as a leader in watershed education and water quality monitoring.  Protecting water quality remains our top priority. The HLA Water Quality Committee monitors lake water quality using recognized standard methods, including analysis of natural and invasive plant species and coordinates additional testing, education, and personnel as warranted. We collaborate with our local partners, the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Towns of Windham, Falmouth and Westbrook as well as USM, UNH and the DEP to improve and maintain the water quality of Highland Lake for the benefit of the residents, the Towns and future generations. The first summer camps appeared around 1900 on Highland Lake, a lake less than 12 miles from Portland, Maine. There are now more than 500 residences around the lake shore and more than 1000 within the watershed. The area around the dam (Duck Pond corner) served as the industrial center to residential settlement dating back to the late 1700s. The site served as a rag mill as well as a lumber mill. HLA is proud to maintain the lake’s history and dedication to pure enjoyment in pure water! 
HLA welcomes residents along the shoreline and beyond to join in our efforts to keep Highland Lake at its best! 


Thank you to Julia Ellsworth for allowing us to use some of her beautiful photographs, of the northern side of Highland Lake, throughout our website.

Strange Creatures Found

Moss Animals

Who knew there was such a thing as a “Moss Animal” but one was discovered in 
Highland Lake on a dock support in August.  These creatures are freshwater 
Bryozoans.  They look a bit like an alien pod and are so biologically unique that they 
have been difficult to classify.  They are colonial, feed like coral and have been around
 for about 500,000,000 years.  Bryozoans are generally a good sign in water bodies as 
they filter feed on microscopic food such as plankton, algae and bacteria.  Check out 
this blog in Scientific American about this fascinating creature.


Highland Lake Association Annual Meeting

July 19, 2018 - 5:15-7:30

Cornerstone Church - Cottage Road

Rosie Hartzler, President of HLA welcomed about 85 members to the HLA annual meeting. 

Stressing the activism of the HLA board and its members, she thanked all for their contributions to our cause and called on continued vigilance and volunteerism to protect our lake.

Dr. Karen Wilson, key note speaker, informed the members of her on going study of Highland Lake and her team's initial findings. (see full powerpoint presentation)

Karen and team of interns and volunteers from HLA are in the middle of discovery process to find out what is causing the bloom.  This summer’s monitoring program is most in depth program to date. 

Karen and her students  are taking samples during May and June every other week;  sampling schedule during July and August will be conducted  every week.  In September, sampling schedule goes back to every other week. In addition the HLA water quality volunteers are testing and sampling every week at 11 select sites on Highland Lake.

Initial Findings:  

Lake in clear water phase (as is evident in many lakes in Maine), due to daphnia eating algae.   In the life cycle of HL, when alewives come into lake and their larva fish hatch, the diet of these small fish is the zooplankton – they eat a lot of zooplankton. (The larva alewives cannot eat the daphnia because the daphnia are too large)   When the zooplankton get depleted, there is a hole in predation cycle, which causes the algae to multiply. This depletion of the zooplankton may be one of the contributing factors to the “bloom” that HL is entering into its 5th season of occurrence. Many types of  zooplankton exist and they are abundant during day and night.

Alewife counts – a good year for alewives.  A preliminary count shows about 62,000 entered HL.  A significant number exhibited a fungus – caused by stress of migration from the ocean to HL. Fungus projected to disappear when Alewives return to the ocean. 

Collection of environmental DNA to take place to determine the variety of species in HL. Also to determine what alewives are consuming.

Sensors utilized to measure Dissolved Oxygen (DO) and Temperature meter by meter from Epilimnion (top layer of the lake), through the Metalimnion (middle layer of the lake) and down to the deepest strata of the lake (Hypolimnion)  

Graph on power point depicts changes in these two parameters from May to mid  July.

Rosie Hartzler –  presented the preliminary results from May 19 Watershed Survey  (see full powerpoint presentation)

Purpose of survey was to identify site that are having the most damaging effects on the lake.

Preliminary results… from approximately 900 sites surveyed, 140 sites were determined to be damaging the lake.   64 were residential sites. 10 boat launches.  27 private road sites.   All sites were given a priority rating high, medium, low.

 Next steps: 

Record data

Send letters to residents and road associations notifying them of results of the survey

Write Final report – goal to have this report completed by Dec, 2018


Peter Simonson informed the crowd about the Watershed Survey Grant .

HLA awarded grant of $10,000 by the Town of Windham for purposes of mitigating most egregious private road and boat launch sites (as identified by the Water shed Survey) , as having  the highest negative impact in terms of erosion on the lake.  Windham $$ must be matched by private road funds.   

Top 4 sites have been identified: 

      Highland Shore Road

      Overlook Road

Swan Road ROW

      Cottage Road ROW.

Timeline: meetings going on now with road associations.  Hope to get the work done in the fall. Grant money to be appropriated  by 12/18

John MacKinnon and Dennis Brown gave the audiance an update on a number of issues including an explanation of the Highland lake Leadership Team, the new Windham surface water protection ordinance and the new point system used for residential development in the Highland Lake Watershed. ( see full powerpoint presentation)

Dennis Brown presented a financial report. ( see full report )

$27,800 raised from grants from Windham, Falmouth, VLMP, donations by residents of the watershed toward original fund raising goal of $28,000. New  goal is $30,000 because of additional expenses expected this season.  Plea for more contributions.

Nominees to the HLA Board of Directors were presented to the membership. The following individuals were elected to a two year term to the board.

Joe Bickard, Dennis Brown, Rosie Hartzler, Peter Simonson, Tom Verlee, Gretchen Anderson, Addie Waters.

HLA is excited to announce the launch of our new Facebook page.  Join us on Facebook and get to know your lakeside community.  Post a photo, make a comment, keep in touch with your neighbors. Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/highlandlakemaine.org/

follow me on facebook

Subpages (22): View All