Invasive Plant Control-Work and Money

posted Aug 11, 2015, 2:10 PM by Joseph Bickard

August 11, 2015 - Bridgton-Inspecting boats for aquatic plants is the first line of defense against the spread of invasive species. For over a decade, LEA has employed inspectors at boat launches around the Lakes Region to check boats and educate boaters about the importance of prevention.

The Lakes Environmental Association’s DASH crews have worked successfully to combat the invasive species that plague water bodies in our area. The crews have done an amazing job controlling and nearly eradicating infestations in Brandy Pond and the Songo River, but it was done at a cost.

Fighting invasive species costs money and considerable time. Once an infestation takes hold, there are many options for removal but none of them are easy. In other states, there are cases where lakes are closed to the public because the plants have grown so thick that recreation is difficult or impossible.

The old adage is still true: “Prevention is the best medicine.” We have an opportunity to stop these invasive plants from ever being introduced to new lakes, pond and river. The Courtesy Boat Inspector (CBI) program was piloted right here at LEA in 2000. Fifteen years later, there are hundreds of CBIs around the state conducting over 80,000 boat inspections a year.

LEA employs approximately 30 people each summer as boat inspectors. They work at fourteen boat launches on 11 different lakes. Last summer, the CBIs inspected 9,487 boats and found 232 plant fragments. Of those plant fragments, only one was found to be invasive. A small piece of Variable-Leaf Milfoil was found floating in the Songo Lock. In 2013, LEA inspectors found eighteen invasive plant fragments.

What does this mean for LEA? In part, it means that we are winning the battle against invasive species. But we know that there will always be the threat of plants coming from outside our area, which is why we will continue to have a strong CBI program. This summer, we have added an inspector to the Woods Pond boat launch in Bridgton. With the help of the Woods Pond Association, this addition will protect the pond from invasive plants and will educate more boaters about this threat to our lakes.

Mary Jewett, LEA Newsletter, Summer 2015