LEA’s Milfoil Control Team Protects the Lake Region

posted Feb 24, 2017, 6:17 AM by Joseph Bickard

January 16, 2017 - Bridgton-This past summer the Milfoil Control Team was busy protecting the gains made in Brandy Pond and the Songo River, and they expanded territory to include Sebago Lake. This broader focus will provide even better protection for all lakes in the region. On the “big lake”, they cleaned marinas at Frye Island and Pickerel Cove in Windham, but the major concentration was on the heavily infested Sebago Cove in Naples. This responsibility more than doubled our territory and posed new challenges for the Team. Sebago Cove was unfamiliar to the crew, and its infestations are spread over many acres of water. To properly tackle this problem, we hired crew members and acquired new equipment, including two new boats. 

Despite the challenges, this season quickly became one of the most successful in the crew’s history. In Sebago Cove alone, 20% of the area was brought under control. After a recent tour, John McPhedran of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, said “The systematic approach by LEA’s crew should result in a significant reduction in invasive milfoil throughout the cove in coming years, leaving native plant habitat in their wake.” One major problem remains in Sebago: funding. With the increase in territory comes an increasing budget, but donations from Sebago Cove and Sebago Lake are not covering costs. And, this year we had to become OSHA compliant. The cost of training, equipment and staff to accomplish this added over $15,000 to the funds we needed to raise. More donations are required to continue mitigation efforts at the current pace in 2017. 

Despite moving into Sebago Lake, the Milfoil Control Team needed to spend time on the Songo River and Brandy Pond. These areas require constant maintenance to prevent the milfoil from taking over again. Monthly surveys revealed renegade plants re-growing or coming upstream from Sebago. This work required significantly less effort in 2016, which allowed the crew to spend more time in Sebago.

The Milfoil Control Team is always on the lookout for new infestations. Invasive species are much like a disease: they are easier to treat if you catch them early. This year we were fortunate to be able to conduct surveys for invasive species in surrounding waterbodies. We did a comprehensive search of the southern shore of Long Lake - always at risk from the amount of boat traffic from the Songo River and Sebago Lake. A resident of southern Long Lake pulled sizeable strands of milfoil off his beach near the causeway, heightening our concern. 

We also conducted a few targeted surveys sponsored by lake associations on Moose Pond, Peabody Pond, and McWain Pond. Fortunately, all areas were free of invasives. If you are interested in a survey of your lake, contact your lake association or LEA.

Invasive species like milfoil pose a serious risk to delicate aquatic ecosystems, and they negatively impact our enjoyment of these resources and our substantial property investment. LEA’s Milfoil Control Team is hard at work protecting these resources, and repairing the damage done to those areas already infested. The numerous lakes and hundreds of square miles of water within the Lake Region pose a serious challenge, but year after year the Milfoil Control Team proves itself capable of the task.

Christian Oren, LEA Lake News, Winter 2017