News and Announcements

News from the President Rosie Hartzler

posted Dec 19, 2017, 3:33 PM by Joseph Bickard

News from the President

Update to Highland Lake Association Board of Directors

December 12, 2017

Water Quality

1.    “A Visitor of Murky Origin

Front page article in Portland Press Herald, Saturday, December 9, 2017.  This article by Megan Doyle, presented a well balanced view of the critical  issues impacting Highland Lake.  The timing of this article could not have been better given the ongoing calendar of events focused on actions being taken to preserve and protect this resource.  http://bit.ly/2nMoS3m


2.    Science Roundtable

A group of researchers, scientists, water quality experts, representatives from the towns, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Marine Resources. met at the  Inland Fisheries and Wildlife building in Gray, Maine, on Friday, December 1, 2017,  for a day long Highland Lake Science Roundtable. Dr. Karen Wilson, Professor of Environmental Studies (USM) served as Facilitator.  (see attached program for a list of all invitees)

The morning session focused on “The science behind why the Picocyanobacteria (Pcy) bloom and why now at HL?”  Jeff Dennis presented a power point that gave in in-depth view of the data accumulated from HL since 1974.  It was pointed out due to the efforts of Keith Williams, and other dedicated water quality monitors at HL, that there is no other lake in Southern Maine that has as significant a cache of data available for study, as is available on HL. 

The afternoon session focused on developing several hypotheses regarding the relative contributors to the Pcy bloomThese hypotheses included:

Increase in phosphorus causes Pcy bloom - What are possible sources of P?

Fish, Bottom sediments, Pcy  - Can Pcy mobilize P from bottom and deliver to water column?

Other hypotheses:

a.    Climate change is driving the Pcy bloom

b.    Timing of alewive spawning, growth, outmigration

c.     Food Chain Dynamics cause Pcy bloom

d.    Pcy migration from bottom of lake impacts Secchi Disk Transparency (SDT)

     3.    Update on water quality testing results from 2017

The graph shows the results of testing for Phosphorus, Nitrogen, Chlorophyll, and Secchi prior to, during the following the Pcy bloom

4.    Water shed Survey – May 19, 2018

John MacKinnon, Kim White and Rosie Hartzler has been working to clarify details of the contract with CCSWCD regarding how money will be allocated to this most important study of the watershed.  An important step was taken just last week, when this group met with John Mcclaine, DEP, to clarify what responsibilities the DEP could assist the HLA with on this survey.  Steering Committee members include folks already mentioned above plus:  Chantal Scott, Donna Pennoyer, Peter Simonson, Heather True (Project Manager- CCSWCD) 

Civic Affairs

1.    Appeal submitted to DEP (see attached)

Dennis Brown has dedicated a voluminous number of hours reviewing plans submitted by Chase Homes for the proposed Highland Views development.  Dennis’ research included the necessity for a 3rd party review of the plans, and innumerable phone conversations with Town staff (Windham and Falmouth), DEP officials, and CCSWCD staff regarding the details implicit in the review of the plans. 

This ongoing effort is all focused on the need to take aggressive action in protecting HL from the very real potential negative impacts of more development in the water shed. 

2.    Petition (see attached )

To date, volunteers have gathered about 600 signatures from registered Windham voters.  The effort to collect signatures continues through the weekend of December 15 – 18 with the goal of collecting 1200 signatures.

There will be more information at the BOD meeting on Monday, December 18. 

3.    Highland Lake Leadership Team (HLLT)

This collaborative working group that includes representatives from the Towns of Windham and Falmouth, the HLA, and as required, input from DEP and the CCSWCD, continues its work toward becoming a force for coordinating ongoing efforts to protect HL . 

HLA representatives – Dennis Brown, Chantal Scott, John MacKinnon, Rosie Hartzler, Kim White

T of Windham Representatives – Tony Plante, Donna Chapman, Tom Peterson

T of Falmouth Representatives – Nathan Poore, Kimberly Darling, Nancy Lightbody (Conservation Commission)

An official charge has been adopted (attached ) and three subcommittees determined:

Public Forum, Road Associations, Ordinance Review

4.    Public Forum – Date to be confirmed

A subcommittee of the HLLT has been formed to plan a public forum which will inform the community regarding the most updated Science on Highland Lake, plus a discussion of how the community needs to respond to the bacterial outbreaks in HL.  The group  includes:   Wendy Garland (DEP), Donna Chapman (WTC), Rosie Hartzler, (HLA ), Gretchen Anderson (Stormwater Compliance Officer for Windham and Gorham), Heather True (CCSWCD), and Chantal Scott (HLA ). 


1.    HLLT becoming part of the HLA Website

 Based on an idea that Tom Verlee floated with several BOD’s, a new focus will be developed on the HLA web site which highlights the role of the HLA in the ongoing work of the HLLT. Here is the gist of what will be developed: 

Over the next few months and beyond, this group (The HLLT)  will be addressing many factors that will affect residents of the Highland Lake Watershed. To educate and answer questions, a suggestion was made to have a central location, a library, that would be accessible to the public. This library would have historical information, water quality data and reports, copies of current applicable town ordinances, meeting minutes, and other relevant information.

This library would ideally be a website, either as a new site with a new domain name, or as a subsection of a current website/domain.

 It was agreed that Highland Lake Association is in the best position to host this website. Other entities (towns, agencies, groups, individuals) could then link to this site to easily access any and all information relative to Highland Lake.

Much of the information is already a part of the Highland Lake Association Site, but it is not organized in a readily accessible form. The goal is to have an INDEX or TABLE OF CONTENTS page, which would give an organized summary of information about Highland Lake and the HLLT. This page would be updated frequently as new information comes in.

2.     HLA Facebook page – under development – Rich Bicknell and Corey Hollowell

Update from Rosie Hartzler, President - Highland Lake Association

posted Nov 22, 2017, 12:58 PM by Joseph Bickard

News from the HLA President, Rosie Hartzler                                                                                                                              November ,  2017

Updates to Highland Lake Association

November 14, 2017


What happened at the Windham Town Council on November 14:

At the November 14 meeting of the Windham Town Council, one major agenda item focused on some revisions to the Surface Water Protection Ordinance specific for the Highland Lake watershed. These revisions are proposed for all development in the water shed that are not subject to subdivision or site plan review. In order to be eligible for a Stormwater and Phosphorus Management Control Permit, a builder must meet or exceed 50 points based on a point schedule as outlined in the proposal. 

For more detail on this point system, go to :  file:///C:/Users/Rosie%20H/Downloads/TC%20packet_surface%20water%20protection_10-27-2017%20(2).pdf

John MacKinnon gave a detailed critique of the proposals – and his comments are available at :



In addition the Town Council decided to delay the approval of the changes to the Surface Water Protection Ordinance, until members of the HLA had opportunity to meet with Windham Town Officials to discuss concerns related to land use ordinances.  This meeting will be scheduled as soon as possible, as the WTC plans to vote on the Surface Water Protection Ordinance on December 12. 


Updates on HLA Committees:

Water Quality

Updated results from 2017

I am including here a chart of results from UNH lab reflecting testing results from this summer season


Highland Lake Data Listing - 2017

Site ID Total

                                                            Phos                Nitrogen          Total Chl    Diss.Color

                                                            Ug/L                 ug/L                 ug/L                 CPU


Deep 0-7.0 meters       2/19/17            8.7                  254                  2.9                   29.3

Deep 18.0 meters        2/19/17            10.9                 337

Deep 0-7.0 meters       3/5/17              8.7                    233                 3.4                   30.2

Deep 18.0 meters        3/5/17              9.7                   308

Deep 0-7.0 meters       5/13/17            7.7                   198                  4.9                   35.3

Deep 19.0 meters        5/13/17            8.0                   255

Deep 0-7.0 meters       6/4/17              14.2                 208                 4.6                   32.8

Deep 18.0 meters        6/4/17              10.6                 390

Deep 0-4.0 meters       6/18/17            8.9                                          2.3                   33.3

Deep 0-5.0 meters       7/1/17              9.3                  422                 2.5                   25.4

Deep 0-5.0 meters       7/1/17              Dup 10.0

Deep 0-5.0 meters       7/16/17            10.2                 475                  4.0                   24.6

Deep 0-5.0 meters       7/16/17            Dup 4.1

Deep 0-4.0 meters       7/22/17            11.6                 375                  4.4                   26.4

Deep 0-5.0 meters       7/30/17            11.0                 406                  10.1                 21.3

Deep 0-5.0 meters       8/5/17              12.8                336                  6.0                   17.7

Deep 18.0 meters        8/5/17              10.4                 441

Deep 0-5.0 meters       8/13/17            14.7                 389                  6.4                   17.7

Deep 0-3.0 meters       8/19/17            11.4                 347                  4.0                   16.8

Deep 0-3.0 meters       8/29/17             9.9                  386                  3.1                   15.9

Deep 0-7.0 meters       9/17/17             8.5                  301                  5.3                   15.7


Note that during the Bloom period (mid July to mid August ), the highest P reading of 14.7 PPB  occurred on 8/13/17

Nitrogen levels as recorded are within the average range for Maine lakes


Science Round table – December 1,2017


NOTE:  This meeting is closed to the public.  The list of participants in this roundtable is listed here. 


Draft schedule for the Roundtable


Morning: “Patterns in Highland Lake”

Coffee, etc provided by HLA


1. Review existing data

2. Review other case studies (i.e., experience from researchers) that might provide hints

Lunch (always important) – provided by HLA


Afternoon: Moving forward


1. Review knowns and unknowns as determined from the morning's discussions [maybe this happens during lunch]

2. Develop working models of what we think might be going on (might be multiple hypotheses)

3. Develop guidance for the surrounding towns/HLA/other partners including:

a. work plan for sampling/analyses to gather data to test hypotheses (Spring/Summer/Fall 2018)

      b. statement of probable causes [??]


List of participants, as of November 1, 2017


Karen Wilson – USM  - Facilitator of the Roundtable

Jeff Dennis – DEP

Keith Williams – HLA  - expected back in Maine by the end of November…

Linda Bacon – DEP

Aria Amerbahman – UMO

Steve Norton – UMO

Pete Countway – Bigelow Labs

Curtis Bohlen – Casco Bay

Holly Ewing – afternoon only, perhaps by Skype

Jim Haney – UNH

Don Kretchmer – Consultant that will contract with HLA to write up summary of the Science Forum and be part of a conversation with the HLA BOD following the roundtable, focused on a summary  and discussion of the major findings from the roundtable. 

Gail Wippelhauser- DMR

Gretchen Anderson – representing Town of Windham

Kimberly Darling – representing Town of Falmouth

Contacted, but have not yet talked to

Jasmine Saros (unlikely, has not returned calls)

Will contact

Jim Pellerin . 


Public Forum

Planning is getting underway for the public forum to be held in February, 2018, subsequent to the Science Roundtable.  The purpose of the public forum will be to inform, educate, and guide policy as the  community and town staff interact with several key speakers tasked with interpreting the major findings from the Science Roundtable. 

Stream sampling

The water quality team met on October 26, and decided that it would be best to wait until after the Science Round table to better determine the focus and parameters for the stream sampling. This does not mean that the HLA does not consider an ongoing an intensive stream sampling program to be very important,  but we want to be clear and focused in terms of how we best utilize resources to gain the information that will be most helpful. 


Watershed Survey

Kim White and Rosie Hartzler, co chairs of this committee are refining the terms of the contract by which the details of the water shed survey will be conducted at HL during the spring of 2018.  There are multiple moving parts in this contract and  we are researching all of our options in order to contain the overall cost to the HLA.


Civic affairs committee


There is a petition currently circulating that is focused on asking citizens in Windham to sign and support the elimination of all high density housing within the Highland lake watershed.


We the citizens of Windham, Maine petition the Town to change all the zoning within the Highland Lake watershed to Farm and Residential (FR) with no cluster housing, MHP Overlay Zones or funnel developments (eg. three or more houses sharing a 25 foot wide right of way to the lake).  Properties that had fully approved permits prior to the start of this change are allowed to continue to even if the current use is outside the FR zone allowances.

The goal of this petition drive is to acquire at least 1200 signatures of registered Windham Voters.  Once this goal is reached and the signatures are verified by the Town Clerk (Windham) the petition is brought before the WTC, who may decide to approve the terms of the petition, or to hold a special election for the town to vote on the petition.  If you would like to help us with this signature drive, please contact Kim White or Rosie Hartzler.  

Appeal to DEP

In addition, the Civic Affairs Committee is continuing to pursue its appeal to the DEP regarding the permit that was issued for the Chase development. 


Moratorium on all development in HL watershed

The Moratorium on all development within the HL watershed has been in effect since September 5, 2017, and at this point will extend for 180 days.  


Highland Lake Leadership Team

Kim White, Dennis Brown, Chantal Scott and Rosie Hartzler have been participating in this team, that is developing its “charge” (organizational document – that will be brought to the next HLA meeting for approval) and also developing its Scope of Work. 


The initial work of a subcommittee with in the Leadership Team includes:

            Review of land use ordinances

Coordination in the planning and implementation of the Science Roundtable and the subsequent Public Forum




Cathy Costa is soliciting volunteers to help her with developing an online newsletter. 



This committee is still being defined




Budget is under review. 


Next Meeting of the BOD – will be scheduled in December to follow the Science Roundtable.  This meeting will be held at a home of a BOD, and will feature, Don Kretchmer as he interacts with the BOD regarding the summary of the Science Roundtable.  Stay tuned for details regarding place and time for this meeting . This meeting promises to be most enlightening and engaging as the BOD learns more about what is going on in Highland Lake. 

As Storms Get Worse, Here’s What Maine Might Expect

posted Sep 18, 2017, 1:24 PM by Joseph Bickard

Maine may not be as susceptible to tropical storms as Houston, Florida or the Caribbean, but warming ocean temperatures — similar to increases seen in this state — are making storms stronger and wetter, scientists say.

Warm ocean temperatures feed the power of storms, and as ocean temperatures along the eastern seaboard increase, they will sustain the power of storms for a longer duration as they travel north. Hurricanes, nor’easters and even thunderstorms will pack more of a punch as warm waters inch their way up the East Coast.

These are the ways that storms’ rising intensity could be felt in Maine, which sits on one of the planet’s most rapidly warming bodies of salt water.

Wind and rain

The most significant and widespread threat from a tropical storm or hurricane bearing down on Maine wouldn’t be the storm surge, according to John Jensenius, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray. It would be the fierce winds and heavy rains.

Intense storms would bring more rainfall in general, which in Maine has been blamed for declining salinity and higher levels of dissolved organic matter in the Gulf of Maine. As more fresh water overall runs into the gulf — despite occasional periods of drought — it suppresses the growth of phytoplankton, which are a key component of ocean life, functioning as an oxygen source and as a staple at the low end of the marine food chain.

Strong rains can have other effects, too. In 2012, after a particularly intense four-day deluge, an estimated population of 1,400 terns abandoned a nesting colony on Metinic Island off St. George.

A storm surge of a few feet would be minor compared to widespread flooding from overflowing lakes and rivers or damage from trees blowing over onto houses, into power lines and across roads, Jensenius said, adding that tornadoes often are a byproduct of cyclones making landfall.

Because cyclones rotate counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere, a storm that moves north tends to have higher wind speeds on its eastern side and more rain and flooding on its western side, Jensenius said.

The slower-moving the storm, the more rain falls on the landscape below, he said. And because Maine is largely a rural state, residents in more isolated areas could be stranded for days as they wait for floodwaters to recede or for emergency response crews to clear fallen trees from roadways.

More flooding

Interactive flood maps show that many places throughout the state can flood from prolonged torrential rain. But Maine’s long coastline also leaves some areas prone to storm surge. Rugged sections of shoreline with high bedrock likely would be well-protected but the state’s low-lying beaches and tidal estuaries, much of which are in southern Maine, could be inundated as storms push water ashore.
“When storm surges and/or extreme rain happen during higher tides, we experience flooding,” Gayle Bowness of Gulf of Maine Research Institute said. “As sea levels rise, the natural buffer of our tidal range decreases. Smaller storms are going to have larger impacts and the impacts of larger storms will be more intense.”

In downtown Bangor, for example, some of the low-lying areas around Kenduskeag Stream could flood as they did in February 1976, when water propelled by high tide and a storm with 100 mph wind gusts funneled into the bay and up the Penobscot River. In Portland, parts of which already are prone to flooding from heavy rains, much of the Bayside neighborhood could be underwater from a major storm surge.

Stronger nor’easters

Winter storms — often called “nor’easters” because of the dominant wind direction — also could become more intense as a result of warming oceans, Jensenius said.

Nor’easters occur when relatively warm air off the Atlantic runs into colder air blowing in from the north and west, creating a storm front that whips up winds and dumps large amount of rain or snow. As ocean temperatures rise, such storms are expected to bring more rain than snow, Jensenius said.

“If you have a warming climate, that would provide more moisture for storms,” he said. “A nor’easter needs that difference between cold air and warm air [to form].

More intense red tides

Bigger storms also could worsen seasonal outbreaks of red tide, scientists have said. Warming ocean temperatures by themselves aren’t expected to aggravate these seasonal blooms of the naturally occurring biotoxin, which can cause paralytic poisoning in people who eat shellfish with high concentrations of the harmful algae. But increasingly severe storms could lead to more intense blooms.

Red tides were aggravated by the storms that churned up the water column in the Gulf of Maine in 2003 and 2009. In 2003, it was Hurricane Juan that kicked up surf in the the gulf, while in 2009 it was Tropical Storm Danny.

Lake Tipping Points Explained

posted Aug 22, 2017, 4:53 PM by Joseph Bickard

August 21, 2017 - LEA Lake News – by Staff Writer, Summer 2017: BRIDGTON: Do you remember ever playing on a see-saw that was balanced, but just ready to drop, given a little push? You were on a tipping point – the point where you shifted from being high in the air, to finding you derriere on the ground. Like see-saw, lakes have tipping points, only instead of high or low, they can alternate between clear versus turbid, pure versus algae-filled. And the push comes not from a shift in weight, but from shifting human and climate pressures from the surrounding landscape. Lakes Region Environmental Association (LEA) is working with dozens of partners statewide to uncover what governs how lakes change, and how close each lake is to that threshold. This information will be used to calibrate a protection strategy to insure that water quality is stabilized to prevent a lake from “tipping.”

There are three major factors that contribute to the deterioration of lakes: landscape features, lake basin shape, and water cycle dynamics. The building blocks of understanding and analysis begin with the physical characteristics of a lake’s watershed: the soils, slopes, drainage patterns, vegetation, and land uses. These factors dictate how much sediment and phosphorus are delivered to the lake by stormwater. Phosphorus is the trigger for algal growth, usually entering the lake attached to soil particles.

Next, comes bathymetry, or the shape of the basin. Water in deep lakes stratifies during summer in upper warm waters and colder bottom waters. Characteristics such as depth patterns, perimeter shape, coves and distribution of deep “holes” are unique for each lake and influence how the system reacts to sediment inputs and weather events.

Hydrology refers to the way water flows through the system: the tributaries, overland flows, how inputs mix with lake waters and the flushing rate (how long it takes a lake to fully exchange its water.” The rate at which water passes through the system has a big impact on chemical concentrations, stratification, and the nature of plants (algae) and animals (zooplankton) living in the lake.

The better we document watershed conditions, bathymetry, and hydrology, the better we can evaluate what we learn from water quality monitoring. LEA conducts a broad array of in-lake tests: clarity, temperature profiles (top to bottom), oxygen profiles, phosphorus profiles, pH, alkalinity, color, sediment chemistry, chlorophyll (to measure algal biomass), and algal diversity. To do this, we use a variety of equipment: electronic meters, water samplers, temperature sensors, oxygen and temperature meters, sediment core samplers, drag nets (to collect algae), and exotic equipment such as autonomous, instrumented (GLEON) buoys. Fluorometers can now measure chlorophyll, saving lab expenses and even differentiating between populations of different types of algae. Bottom-located sensors can measure stream depth, and flow meters compute volume passing through a stream channel. These are important tools for understanding hydrology. GPS-equipped depth meters allow us to collect bathymetric readings quickly to build depth maps.

The accumulated information about watersheds, basins, hydrology and in-lake conditions is allowing us to gauge the sensitivity of each lake. Each water body is a unique mix of conditions, but there are several universal factors.

-All Maine lakes are “phosphorus limited.” Algal growth is determined and limited by the amount of this nutrient in the water. If you increase phosphorus inputs, you increase algal growth. It is very important to control erosion, because soil particles are the source of most lake phosphorus. They are carried to the lake in stormwater.

-Except for very shallow lakes, most stratify during summer. Colder bottom waters can become devoid of oxygen when bacteria decompose dead algae that settle from the upper warm and sunny layer where they grow. This is why limiting phosphorus (and thereby algal growth) can help a lake maintain healthy oxygen levels. Oxygen is not an issue in the lake’s upper layer because winds continually mix and replenish it. Deep waters are thermally stagnant with a finite amount of oxygen accumulated while the lake is fully mixed and before stratification sets up in the spring.

-If the cold layer loses its oxygen (a condition called anoxia), phosphorus can be released from bottom sediments, potentially increasing algae growth. If sediments are rich in aluminum, this “recycling” of bottom sediment phosphorus does not occur because aluminum chemically binds phosphorus. This is why it is important to test sediment chemistry. Fortunately, most lakes we have tested in LEA’s service area have aluminum-rich sediments.

-Healthy lakes have diversity of microscopic algae and zooplankton. This is why it is important to study their populations. Some species of algae can even become toxic to humans if their populations flourish.

Weather can be the wild card for water quality. Heavy rains scour soils, bringing nutrients to the lake. High winds can break down stratification to mix phosphorus-rich bottom waters into the growing zone to trigger algal blooms. Early ice-out and late ice-in expand the growing season for algae and warm lake waters beyond that which is healthy. Weather stations located onboard LEA’s instrumented buoys are adding crucial information to the mix of knowledge. With buoys providing oxygen and temperature profiles every 15 minutes, we can track the impact wind is having on stratification and oxygenation.

As you can see, water quality and tipping points are complex topics. There are many factors interacting with each other. As data is gathered, a clearer and clearer picture merges of how fragile each unique lake is. Though the volume of data may sometimes seem overwhelming and confusing, a sort of “melody” emerges if you “listen” to each of the “rhythms and sounds” generated by the data. Drawing conclusions is an art and a science because the relationships and interactions of factors sometimes defy rigid scientific rules, requiring intuition to draw conclusions.

Winners of the HLA Annual Meeting Raffle - 2017

posted Aug 4, 2017, 5:27 AM by Joseph Bickard   [ updated Aug 4, 2017, 5:27 AM ]

Any questions feel free to contact Chantal at 207-899-7641 (Chantal.altavista@gmail.com).

-HLA’s water quality boat motor. 6 HP Tohatsu 4-stroke fr HLA. Priceless. Alec Stevens.

-Career Coaching w Rosie.  3 sessions.   $300. Joe Bickard.

-2 hour guided mountain bike ride w/Sunnyside Guide Services.  $250. Paula Leteicq.

-Tubing/lake tour for the whole family on a Mastercraft fr The Scotts.  $250. Diane Hermon.

-Learn to Row/skull w/Stew Miller - instructor extraordinaire. 2 lessons.  $250. Kim White.

-A&C Hardscapes Corey Dame owner. $150 off a stone wall, walkway, etc. $150. Barb Bicknell.

-One hour golf lesson w/Woodland’s golf-pro Paul Piveronas.  $130. Brenda Slivinsky.

-In-home professional massage from Sunnyside Massage.  $125. Deb Ackerley.

-Ten or more perennial plantings from a native species lakefront garden fr Chantal Scott.  $80. Joe Petta.

- Three  t-shirts w the Highland lake Logo fr The Mavors.  One L $25 Tom Cattell. One M $25 Santucci.  One SM $25 Lebson.

-Moose Landing Marine Supplies gift card.  $50. Rhoades Hallowell.

-Two O’Donnell’s Nursery gift cards fr The Whites.  $50 Steve Penick.  $25 Ginger Lawson.

-Two Broadway Gardens Greenhouse gift cards fr The Pennoyers. $50 Brenda Slivinsky. $20 Greg Brown.

-Two Skillins Greenhouses gift cards fr Skillins. $25 Lageroos.  $25 Liana Doyle.

-A.B. Burner Oil Furnace Annual Tune-up $75 off ( $140 complete clean) fr A.B Burner. Pat Hayes.

-Dirigo Docks $60 off ea section dock purchase fr Dirigo. John Herzog.

-Crystal Clean LLC residential or commercial 2 hrs of free cleaning fr Crystal.  $70 Brian Mavor.

-Two Buck’s naked BBQ gift cards fr the Mavors. $25 Lageroos  .  $25 Liana Doyle.

-Lenny’s Restaurant and Live music gift card fr the Taylor Hornes.  $25 Wanda Brissette.

-Heavan and Earth Day spa gift card.  $25 Nicole Freese.

-Two gift cards fr Duck Pond Variety. Gas, food, drinks, Lottery.   $25 Scott Parolin.  $25 Garry Therrien.

-Irving gas card fr The Hawkes.  $25 Greg Kuliga.

- Gift card from Fresh Approach meat Market. $20 Santucci.

Photo Found

posted Jul 19, 2017, 5:32 AM by Joseph Bickard   [ updated Jul 19, 2017, 5:35 AM ]


My kids found this photo in the mud underneath the dock for Lakeside Drive. No one in our neighborhood recognizes it.

 Sean Riley

Skeeter Skidaddler repellent, a Maine product, will keep you safe

posted Jun 21, 2017, 5:11 AM by Joseph Bickard

Allen Pollock has always had bad reactions to insect bites. It started when he was a boy growing up in San Jose, California, and by the time he was an adult and had moved east, he was adjusting his lifestyle to avoid the problem, hiking only in early spring and fall when the bugs aren’t as fierce. He didn’t like to wear netting, nor did he care for any of the insect repellents on the market.

Then in 2007, he and his wife, who own Gentle Breeze Farm in Windham, decided to help others in the community start a farmers market. The more he was growing at the farm, the more he was dealing with the biting insect issue. He decided to make his own bug repellent.

Pollock didn’t want to use DEET, and while most organic insect sprays contain citronella, it is “not a good repellent,” he said. He started researching essential oils and eventually came up with a formula that appeared to work against most flying, biting insects. His original version used cedarwood, cinnamon, eucalyptus, lemongrass and patchouli in a base of Maine-grown, organic sunflower oil instead of water. Using water, Pollock said, would have required adding preservatives and emulsifiers. Pollock bottled the repellent to sell at the farmers market, and called it “Skeeter Skidaddler.”

“I sold 85 bottles that first year,” Pollock said. “People kept coming back and buying two. It was working very well for me. I sent some to my brother up in Vermont, in the Northeast Kingdom, and he said ‘This really works.’ It’s very buggy up there.”

In his second year, he developed a new formulation, “and it just took off.” By the third year, Pollock had sold 190 bottles and people began urging him to market the stuff. Skeeter Skidaddler now sells retail for $9.95-$11.95 per bottle.

“You don’t coat yourself with it, it’s more of a fragrancing-type application,” Pollock said. “One bottle has about 2.7 fluid ounces, and you get 75-100 applications, each lasting 3 to 6 hours, depending on how warm it is and how much insect pressure you’ve got out there.”

Pollock also makes a cedarwood-free version for pets (cedarwood is toxic for some dogs) and an equine version.

Skeeter Skidaddler is sold at the Portland Food Co-op, the Cabot Farmers’ Annex and the Blue Lobster in Portland’s Old Port, and Broadway Gardens in South Portland. For more locations, go to tremblingleaf.com.

Alewives return to Mill Brook in Westbrook – and so do their fans

posted Jun 5, 2017, 5:33 AM by Joseph Bickard

Thousands of the anadromous fish are making their way back to Highland Lake to spawn.

Alewives swim in Westbrook's Mill Brook as hikers watch from the shoreline on Saturday, June 3, 2017. This photo was shot using an underwater housing, with the camera both above and below the water.
Alewives swim in Westbrook's Mill Brook as hikers watch from the shoreline on Saturday, June 3, 2017. This photo was shot using an underwater housing, with the camera both above and below the water. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

WESTBROOK — Ever since the alewives showed up earlier this week, Goldilocks Falls at the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust’s Mill Brook Preserve off Methodist Road has been a popular destination.

The falls provide a front-row seat to the annual spring show of thousands of the anadromous fish making their way back from the Atlantic Ocean, up the Presumpscot River to Mill Brook and into to their spawning grounds in Highland Lake. When the alewives show up at the falls, hungry osprey, heron, sea gulls, crows, foxes, skunks and raccoons follow. Wildlife enthusiasts and fishermen are right behind them.

Spectators watch alewives in Casco Bay's largest migrating fish run in Westbrook's Mill Brook on Saturday, June 3, 2017. The alewife run can be viewed via trails in the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust's Mill Brook Preserve.
Spectators watch alewives in Casco Bay's largest migrating fish run in Westbrook's Mill Brook on Saturday, June 3, 2017. The alewife run can be viewed via trails in the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust's Mill Brook Preserve. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh
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On Saturday, five days after the alewives arrived, 37 people joined the land trust’s annual alewife walk to Goldilocks Falls led by Toby Jacobs, a land trust staffer, and Karen Wilson and Theo Williams, who are husband-and-wife researchers and teachers at the University of Southern Maine Environmental Science and Policy Department.

Goldilocks Falls got its name from Westbrook resident Ralph Hatt, who grew up on family land along Mill Brook and donated 30 acres of his land to the land trust last year.

“The water level has to be just right at the falls, not too high and not too low,” before the alewives will make the swim up the rushing waters, said Hatt.

There is a lot that can go wrong, and if the fish can’t make it up, they will return to the sea to try again another day.

That is why the USM Environmental Science and Policy Department encourages human intervention. The department organizes a volunteer fish-counting station at Highland Lake to monitor the numbers of returning fish. Volunteers, including Hatt, patrol the brook for beaver dams, which they are allowed to remove, thanks to a special permit from the state. Hatt removed five dams this year along the 5-mile section of brook he patrols.

Alewives, close cousins of shad and blueback herring, return to the place where they were born to spawn. The returning fish will spend about two weeks in Highland Lake before returning to the George’s Bank, the Bay of Fundy and other locations. The juveniles will spend about five months in the lake and then move out to the Presumpscot River estuary, where they will spend a year or two before moving off-shore. Alewives can live to up to eight or nine years, if they manage to escape predation and fishermen’s nets. They can reach 14 inches and weigh a pound or more.In pre-Colonial times, Maine’s rivers and streams once roiled with alewives. But several centuries of dam development, pollution and overfishing have taken a toll and the population plummeted. Today there are a number of public and private efforts underway to restore their numbers along the East Coast.

The 37 walkers surrounded the pool at the bottom of the falls, taking photographs and studying the fish, which were swimming about in large schools. It appeared the water level was not to the alewives’ liking because they were not venturing up the falls.

Christine Joyce of Limington was there with her son, daughter-in-law and her two grandchildren. She said she had such a good time on a hike with the land trust last year she wanted to try it again.

Steve Roberts of Hollis, a retired Washington state biologist, was pondering the mechanics of equipping an alewife with a device to monitor its progress.

“You can tag anything,” he said.

The trail-heads to the 120-acre Mill Brook Preserve are on Allen Knight Road, next to 789 Methodist Road in Westbrook, next to 55 Perry Court and across from Willow Drive off Route 302.

Help Scientists Report, Track, and Monitor Algae Blooms

posted May 12, 2017, 11:58 AM by Joseph Bickard

In warmer months, lakes and ponds often go green. The change in color is most likely the result of an algae bloom which, besides being unattractive, can contain cyanobacteria. Some species of these tiny aquatic organisms produce toxins that can make people and animals sick.  

Blooms like these are happening more often and having greater impacts. Researchers want to better understand how these blooms impact human health, identify their toxicity, predict the probability of bloom occurrence, and share that information widely.

That’s where the Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collaborative comes in. The collaborative was formed by EPA and the University of New Hampshire to work with the public, water quality managers, and citizen scientists to track, map, and monitor algae blooms. Those interested in participating can report algae blooms via the bloomWatch app, collect and share images of cyanobacteria via cyanoScope, and periodically collect water samples to monitor cyanobacteria populations over time via the cyanoMontoring program.

The collaborative effort was recently featured in the National Geographic article, “10 Easy Ways You Can Help Scientists Study the Earth”.

Legislative Update

posted May 12, 2017, 11:56 AM by Joseph Bickard

Septic Inspections in Lake Shorelands Protect Water Quality, Recreation, Aquatic Wildlife, Property Value and More

Veto Stymies Lake Protection - Help Needed

This week, the Maine House and Senate passed without discussion a vital measure that extends to inland waters a long-standing protection for coastal waters.  The bill, LD 559, sensibly calls for a septic system inspection to be performed when properties in lake, river or stream shorelands transfer ownership.

Yesterday, LD 559 was vetoed.

559 could still pass if enough legislators vote to override! 
A 2/3 vote is needed. 
The decision will come down to what happens in the House of Representatives.
The Maine Lakes Society is asking help from all who use and value lakes.

Why it Matters

Lakes are sensitive, time-limited resources. They keep 80% to 90% of elements that enter them.  If over-fed with nutrients like phosphorus in septic effluent and stormwater, they will eventually and inevitably produce nuisance algal or even toxic cyanobacterial blooms. Already, "Repeated nuisance algal blooms have been recorded on more than 53 Maine lakes and another 493 are considered at significant risk." (Maine Department of Environmental Protection web site).
 Clear and healthy lakes depend on keeping nutrients out of the water.
Septic effluent is high in phosphorus after it leaves a septic system.  Normally, it gets trapped between the system and the lake by sticking to soil particles.  But, if that soil is too sandy or if the base is fractured bedrock, as is the case with many Maine lakes, phosphorus laden effluent runs a straight pipe into the lake.

Only a septic system inspection will reveal this problem!
A straight pipe is not detectable otherwise. 
9 years ago, coastal waters got this protection.  Now it's time for your lakes. 

Write to your Representative.

Ask to override the veto by voting No to the Veto of 559.
We have until Tuesday.

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