Latest News About Highland Lake

Big Bass Bragging Board

posted May 16, 2020, 10:48 AM by Joseph Bickard   [ updated Sep 22, 2020, 7:30 AM ]

Calling all Highland Lake Fisherman

The Highland Lake Association is announcing the first annual Highland Lake Big Bass Bragging Board hosted on our Community Facebook Page and Website.  Think you caught a Lunker?  See how it stacks up to the biggest largemouth and smallmouth bass caught this year on Highland Lake.  Send us photos and details of your biggest bass and we'll keep a running list of the top bass caught in this year.

Reese Cole from Pond Villa with her 15” largemouth Bass, her very first fish! Yes, the fish was released without incident. 
Not a bass, but Colleen from Vista Dr caught this pretty nice perch on Friday, 9/11.

  1. All smallmouth and largemouth bass entered must be caught by a licensed angler (if 16 or older) from Highland Lake using legal fishing methods according to the Maine IF&W rules.
  2. Big Bass Bragging Board is open from May 1st, 2020 until September 30, 2020
  3. You agree that any pictures may be used in our publications

Entrants must fill out the following information
  1. Name of angler
  2. Species (largemouth or smallmouth)
  3. Length in inches of the fish on the tape measure or measuring board (see method to measure)
  4. Two pictures submitted with your entrance
    1. One of the measurement
    2. One of the angler holding the fish with the lake in the background
  5. Submit your entry to either or both of the following
If you are going to release the bass, please be careful not to allow the bass to touch dry surfaces.  To measure the bass, wet the surface you are going to lay the fish down on before measuring the fish.  See instructions here. 

Loon Nesting Platforms at Highland Lake

posted May 16, 2020, 10:34 AM by Joseph Bickard   [ updated Jul 11, 2020, 1:28 PM ]

Last spring, a long time resident of Highland Lake approached me and asked “Why don’t we have loon nesting platforms on Highland Lake? “ I had no idea what she was talking about. She invited me to meet Lucas Savoy, Waterfowl Program / Loon Program Director at the Biodiversity Research Institute in Portland. While I certainly was one of those for whom the most exciting treats around Highland Lake is listening to the loons, I knew nothing about the loons nesting habits.  I decided that I would open this opportunity to the HLA Board and Tim Hawkins volunteered to further pursue the idea of locating a loon nesting platform (or two) in the South Basin of Highland Lake. 

We are fortunate to have loons every summer, on Highland Lake; however, it’s not clear that our loons are raising chicks very successfully. Human activity and nest predation can interfere with loon breeding. Scientists have learned that the success of loons nesting with these types of platforms had a 50% higher likelihood of survival of the young. Given that Highland Lake is located near the southern limit of the loons breeding range, global warming may make it even harder for them to successfully raise chicks in the future. 

Based on Tim’s recommendation, in April, the HLA Board of Directors decided to set aside the funding necessary to build and install two nesting rafts in the southern part of the lake.

A word of caution to all lake residents: Adult loons can learn to tolerate humans, and share the lake with us. However, if you see a loon on a nest, or swimming with small chicks, please give them a wide berth. Our hope is to keep the loons happy and healthy on Highland Lake for generations to come!”

Did you know? Loons lay their eggs between May 15 and June 15 and the eggs hatch about a month later. Both parents incubate the eggs, which hatch in about 28 to 30 days. The chicks leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching. At this point, they can swim but usually spend some time riding on their parents' backs during the first couple of weeks. This may help the chicks keep warm and protect them from predators.

Highland Lake Association announces changes in the Executive Committee:

posted Mar 15, 2020, 8:03 AM by Joseph Bickard   [ updated Mar 15, 2020, 9:27 AM ]

At the beginning of 2020.  Rosie Hartzler decided to step down from President to Vice President. Dennis Brown has accepted the role of President of the HLA. Kevin McElearney will assume the role of Treasurer, and Joe Bickard will continue as Secretary for the HLA. The newly energized group looks forward to working with everyone in the watershed in our collaborative efforts to protect this jewel of a lake. 


Who is Dennis Brown? 

Dennis has lived on the lake since 2008, and enjoys fishing, sailing and kayaking on the lake.  He has served as the Treasurer of the HLA for the past 2 and ½ year.  Almost singlehandedly he oversaw the development and organization of the Highland Lake Leadership Team (HLLT), an organization that includes representatives from the Towns of Windham and Falmouth, the Highland Lake Association, Department of Environmental Protection, and Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District.  In his role as Chair of the HLLT he has instituted the committee structure in an ongoing effort to protect Highland Lake. 


Some examples of how this structure have benefitted the watershed include:  development of ordinances that impose stricter phosphorus allowances within the HL watershed; securing  necessary funding through a collaborative effort including the Towns of Windham and Falmouth, the DEP and CCSWCD to develop the Watershed Management Plan, planning for and implementing a Public Forum.


Who is Kevin McElearney?

Kevin joins the leadership team with a great deal of professional experience both in his work life and as president of the Pride Farm Road Association.  He brings fresh ideas on processes and protocol as well as his wide ranging skills in the use of technology.  The HLA has already benefited from his expertise in his role on the Grant Implementation Committee. 


Acknowledging Kim White

Kim has been the Vice President of the HLA and has not sought the limelight;  however, her work has nevertheless been remarkable.   She has been and continues to serve as the Vice Chair of the Highland Lake Leadership Team (HLLT), and has her fingerprints on a number of major HLA efforts, not the least which has been the Watershed Survey and Watershed Management Plan.  Thank you Kim for all you have done and continue to do.


Thanks to Rosie Hartzler

Rosie has been the President of the HLA for the past two and a half years and has invested  countless hours in leading the Highland Lake Association to implementing new strategies and organizing the watershed community in a collaborative effort to preserve and protect Highland Lake.  Rosie has demonstrated amazing tenacity in this work, and as Vice Presidents, will continue to work as a  passionate advocate for preserving water quality on Highland Lake.


Vision for the HLA – Dennis Brown


Where are we, as a lake community headed?  Well, because of the overall direction of the past two years, we don’t need to make any significant changes.  We have to continue:

  • Addressing the never ending challenge of educating the residents within the lake watershed on their personal impact to the lake.  Obviously we still have a long way to go, and there’s the residents within the watershed without lake access that we still need to reach because of the ease with which phosphorus from anywhere within the watershed can impact the lake.
  • Continue the great progress in stormwater ordinance we’ve made in both Windham and Falmouth, though there is always room for improvement here as well.
  • Raise necessary funds for lake water quality studies as well as applying for grants for the site remediations.
  • Develop final draft of the Watershed Management Plan (WMP), and apply for 319 funding to be applied toward remediation of identified erosion sites.  (The timing for this is as follows:  Complete draft of the WMP- March, 2020;  Adoption of the WMP by the HLLT and Towns of Windham and Falmouth - Spring, 2020;   DEP approves draft of WMP Spring,  2020;  Application  for 319 funding beginning in April, 2020;    Anticipated 319 funding awarded to CCSWCD / HLLT (overall administration of the WMP) Summer, 2021. 
  • Validating the first hypothesis of the alewife/food chain impact causing the bloom and exploring the possible steps to mitigate those causes. 
  • Validating the second hypothesis, on whether there is phosphorus recycling from the bottom sediments, will necessitate  even greater efforts to reduce phosphorus sources to the lake. 
  • Continue building on the great working relationships and level of  respect we’ve earned in the collaborative partnerships with the leaders in the Towns of Windham and Falmouth.
  • Planning for a Public Forum in Spring, 2020 with the goal of informing the public regarding the most updated water quality information, and what steps the community can do in the ongoing work of preserving and protecting Highland Lake. 

Secchi Observations for 2019

posted Oct 18, 2019, 8:06 AM by Joseph Bickard

The attached plot shows all the Secchi observations for Highland Lake for 2019, from a little after ice-out, to the end of August.

Note Tom B., John W. and I made the first observations, then Karen W., Paige Mallory, and Alayna McNally began on June 3, then David N. started observing nearly every day on July 1. With few exceptions, Paige and Alayna had the shallowest observations. 

Compared to 2018, this year's observations had somewhat a plateau mid June through mid July, and since then tracked rather closely to 2018, including the steep improvement during August.

Click to enlarge.

Plant Survey at Highland Lake

posted Sep 4, 2019, 12:22 PM by Joseph Bickard

Plant Survey at Highland Lake

Field work for the lake plant survey for Highland Lake was completed on July 19. Dennis Roberge of Lake Stewards of Maine Invasive Plant Patrol, Prof. Karen Wilson's students Paige Mallory, Sarah, and Alayna, assisted. It took nearly 100 people hours over eleven days. We found none of the notorious invasive lake plants such as Eurasian water-milfoil or Hydrilla, but we did note for the first time Nightshade (Bittersweet) (scientific name Solanum dulcamara) intruding into the stream channel water at the north end of the lake. I understand from local gardeners that it is widespread in the wild. Over a quarter century time, I have identified nearly one hundred different species. Until I finish the data analysis, probably late this winter, I won't know the species count for this year, and more importantly, what changes happen over time.

Keith Williams

July 23, 2019

(Photo of Eurasion Milfiol – so

HLA Annual Meeting - July 18, 2019

posted Aug 4, 2019, 12:37 PM by Joseph Bickard   [ updated Aug 4, 2019, 12:43 PM ]

HLA Annual Meeting Minutes                 : 

July 18, 6:00 - 7:30

Cornerstone Church


1.     Welcome- Rosie Hartzler

2.     Dr. Karen Wilson, USM Professor and Program Manager for Water Quality Sampling Regimen at Highland Lake gave an update on the water quality work being done on Highland Lake.  (see attached power point presentation)  

·      Pursuing the primary question – What caused the bloom in 2014 – 17?  We studied the heck out of the lake in 2018 and then the bloom did not occur.  Body of evidence indicates that it is a complex set of factors contributing to the bloom:  weather, nutrients, picocynobacteria, alewives, human activity.  

·      Primary learnings from 2018 testing:  (results still coming in) 

Secchi Disk readings from 11 sites on the lake indicated that water clarity is pretty much the same over the entire lake.

Total Phosphorus readings (volume of TP)  increased at the upper depths of the lake during the middle of the summer (July 24, 2018),   then dropped quickly back to normal (around 10-12  ppb.) 

The big question remains: Where did the extra phosphorus come from and where did it go after the bloom?

·      The dominant form of cyanobacteria is not toxic.

·      In the spring during the clear water phase many zooplankton present…. They start to disappear during the summer.. many reasons ( they get eaten, life cycle ends).

·      What is being observed already from 2019 sampling?

This year has been wetter and colder than 2018 summer

Alewife arrival was later, but due to increased water levels, adults were able to leave the lake over the lip of the dam.  Alewife count was about 35,000 – less than the 65,000 in 2018. 

Water temps at bottom of the lake actually warmer now than in 2018.  Impact of a lot of wind and rain. 

Water clarity measuring around 4 meters (STD) for past few weeks..

Lower levels of Dissolved Oxygen at bottom of the lake.

Total phosphorus is higher in June 2019, actually higher than at any time last year.   – may be related to a rainy spring leading to more run off from erosion

Sampling the sediments as potential way to discover where excess phosphorus may be coming from. 


3.     Watershed Based Management Plan. (WBMP) – Wendy Garland  and Heather Huntt

(See attached power point presentation) 

We must limit the amount of phosphorus going into the lake!

How do we keep phosphorus from the lake? Need to continually be vigilant in regards to potential erosion from water shed properties, mal functioning septic systems, camp road erosion ending up in the lake.  . 

Technical Assistance Committee tasked to develop a  WBMP that we can follow over the next 10-20 years.


A Range of Watershed assessments are included in the plan: 

·      Watershed Survey – The final Report is available at

·      Septic system survey…. Presently being done by towns of Falmouth and Windham

·      Stream crossings

·      Impervious surfaces analysis – related to the septic system review

·      Outreach to small farming operations in the area

·      Assessment of other possible pollution sources


Watershed Based Management Plan – key components

·      Fix problem sites identified in the Watershed Survey – 129 identified sites

·      Reduce septic system impacts

·      Maintain/upgrade roads and implement best management practices

·      Maintain ongoing support from towns, road associations, lake association

·      Implement Water quality monitoring per status of the lake


Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) looking for feedback from watershed residents and towns of Falmouth and Windham.  The goal of the TAC plan is to submit a plan to the DEP by December, 2019


4.              BOD slate for 2019 – 2020 –presented by Tom Verlee

List of persons to be approved:

                        Cathy Costa

                        Tim Hawkins

                        John MacKinnon

                        Kim White

                        Keith Williams

                        Jolaine Ricci   

                        Kevin McElearney


Motion made  and seconded to accept the above persons.  Unanimously approved.


5.              Chantal Scott  recognized for her contributions to the HLA board for over 10 years.

6.              Watershed Grant Implementation Committee – Kevin McElearney

The HLA received two grants from the Towns of Windham and Falmouth , $13,500 and $10,000 respectively .  These are match grants to be utilized to mitigate erosion sites as noted in the 2018 Watershed Survey. ( see attached powerpoint presentation)

 Methodology used by the committee:

·      Communication with watershed residents regarding the grant opportunities

·      Education – A Buffer workshop held in June

·      Support to homeowners regarding how to best remediate erosion problems

·      Sponsorship


The HLA implemented a grants from Town of Windham during the 2018  season. 

This season, the HLA is again taking responsibility to implement grant funding in     Highland Lake Watershed. 

9 applications for grant funding approved so far this summer

60% of money still available. More applications are being processed

In a tally of all sites identified in the Watershed Survey, 15 sites completed, 6 of which were high impact sites


7.              Ordinance updates – Dennis Brown

            (see attached presentation)

·      Maximum Phosphorus amount allowed  from building project limited to .020 lbs/ acre/ year

·      Mandatory 3rd party review of all projects that come before the Planning Board


8.              Finances – Dennis Brown


9.              Fundraising – Dennis Brown


Meeting preceded by barbecue in lower level of the church;   barbecue hosted and totally funded by Cornerstone Church members and led by Ben and Vicki Adler, pastoral team. 

Business meeting held in sanctuary of the Cornerstone Church 

Buffer Blitz Workshop

posted Jun 25, 2019, 1:54 PM by Joseph Bickard

On Thursday, June 13, as the rain poured down, an engaged crowd  participated in the Buffer Blitz Workshop sponsored by the Highland Lake Association  (HLA) at the Cornerstone Church from 5 – 7 pm .   The workshop was all about empowering  homeowners to implement best practices in caring for their properties, because what goes on in the watershed properties implicitly impacts water quality in the lake. Discussion was lively during and after  a set of presentations.

 John Maclaine Non Point Source Training Center Coodinator,  Department of Environmental Protection,  led off the evening with a presentation, “Why buffers matter”   He emphasized the importance of residents doing everything that they can to restore their property to what it might have been prior to development.  Planting various types of vegetation in order to create varying levels of a canopy is an ongoing project .

Chris Brewer, Project Admininstrator at Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District encouraged folks to think about implementing “Lake Smart Practices “ on their property.  His presentation included audience participation in an exercise where folks evaluated properties as “Good, Bad or Ugly” according to how that property reflected lake smart practices. 

Then Chris Hanson, Director of the Code Enforcement Office in Windham interacted with the audience on a  number of topics ranging from “What are the rules about cutting trees in the shoreland zone?” to “Can I dig a hole to plant one item along the shoreline?”  Chris encouraged folks to see the Code Enforcement office as a resource.  “If you have a question, come see us.  Some projects require permitting, and some do not.  Use our office as a resource.”

In the final presentation of evening,  Kevin McElearney, resident on the Pride Farm Road and member of the Grant Implementation Committee presented  the process by which  residents could apply for grant money in order to assist them in mitigating erosion sites that were identified in the Watershed Survey.  Residents in the Highland Lake watershed had received letters notifying them of the erosion issues on their property.  If a resident needed assistance, financial or technical, the HLA wanted to help. 

The evening included a lot of pertinent information and also provided the opportunity for residents to interact with landscapers, municipal officials,  HLA representatives, and local agencies, regarding  questions about the best way to correct erosion issues. 

John Maclaine and Chris Brewer presentations are below. 


posted May 11, 2019, 4:46 PM by Joseph Bickard   [ updated May 11, 2019, 4:47 PM ]


Thank you for your interest in being a part of this years' alewife fish count!
You and I and will be spending the next month or so taking turns to count river herring (alewives) as they make their way from the ocean into Highland Lake to spawn. 

In addition to giving you the information about our project, I'd like to use this email to introduce myself! My name is Ben Libby and I am interning with the University of Southern Maine and the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, who have joined together to help get our community involved with aquatic ecosystem monitoring. I am an Environmental Science major at USM and this past semester, I have been studying water quality at Mill Brook. I'm excited to meet all of you and make this program as fun and successful as possible!

For those of you who have not done this sort of thing before, you and I will meet for a small individual training session prior to your first scheduled count time. You can reach me through email, at, or cell phone (207-894-8286). If I don't answer a phone call, please feel free to leave a voicemail or a text message and I will get back to you as soon as I can!

If you'd like to be a volunteer, please fill out some basic info here!

After filling out your info,  click here to set up a time slot! Note that you are signing up for a 3 hour time slot, however, each person has to count for ONLY 30 MINUTES within the time that you signed up for!


Ben Libby 
University of Southern Maine
Environmental Science & Policy 


posted Mar 31, 2019, 2:55 PM by Joseph Bickard   [ updated Mar 31, 2019, 2:57 PM ]

The 2018 Highland Lake watershed survey is available here.


posted Feb 24, 2019, 9:57 AM by Joseph Bickard   [ updated Feb 24, 2019, 9:58 AM ]

What is going on with the results of the Watershed Survey?

Residents in the Highland Lake Watershed may be wondering what the next steps are following the Watershed Survey that occurred in May 2018. 

This is quite a process that we as a community are engaging in.  This process involves multiple agencies, multiple funding mechanisms, multiple challenges, and multiple levels of decision-making.

The goal of this article is to inform you, the public, regarding the process that is ongoing following the Watershed Survey, and how that process will impact not only residents in the Highland Lake Watershed, but also the Towns of Windham and Falmouth.   

2018 Watershed Survey Findings

Just to review, following the survey in May and quality control of all results, a spread sheet was created that listed the 129 identified Erosion Sites. The pie chart here depicts the Erosion Sites by impact on the lake:



65 sites–Low Impact;   40 sites-Medium Impact;   24 sites–High Impact


These sites were categorized by the impact / priority status assigned to a site according to the specific land use:


                                                IMPACT / PRIORITY

Land Use                  High   Medium        Low                Grant Total


Residential                     4            17               42                           63

Private Road                 10          11                  6                           27

Boat Access                    3             3                  3                             9

Driveway                         1             1                  5                             7

Trail / Path                      1             2                  4                             7

Construction site           0             3                  0                             3

Town Road                      2             1                  1                             4

Beach Access                  2             2                  4                             8

Stream Crossing             1             0                  0                             1


GRAND TOTAL               24         40                 65                          129

In October 2018, letters were mailed to residents and representatives of private road associations with information about the site that had been identified on their property or private road, with suggestions for repairing the erosion site.  

As noted above, the largest number of identified sites were classified as Low Impact, and therefore most likely would not require a high cost to repair the erosion issue. The Highland Lake Association is available to follow-up with landowners and representatives of road associations in the Spring of 2019 with advice to repair low impact sites.

When a site is deemed of Medium or High Impact, there may be circumstances where the homeowner or the road association will need financial assistance to repair the erosion site.

Next Steps to Address Identified Erosion Issue Sites

This is where the process gets interesting, as there is a variety of funding sources for repairing erosion sites.  One of the misconceptions that folks may have is that following the Watershed Survey, Highland Lake can expect to receive money from the EPA and DEP to remediate problematic erosion sites.  While it is true, that the likelihood that the HLA will be eligible for funding to remediate issues at Highland Lake, it is going to take a significant amount time to apply for this funding.  Funding may not be “on line” to remediate erosion sites at Highland Lake before the 2021 season. 

This undoubtedly will come as a rude surprise!  Why do we have to wait so long?  And what do we do in the interim?  There are issues that need to be corrected in the watershed sooner rather than later.  How are we going to meet this need?

So here is an attempt to explain why it requires so much time to apply for and become eligible for government money.  Below is a flow chart that represents how the process works from the time that the Watershed Survey was conducted to the projected time when the Highland Lake Association would be eligible for 319 funding to be utilized in the mitigation of erosion sites in the Highland Lake Watershed. 

This process includes a lot of moving parts, as it is a collaborative effort by the Highland Lake Association (HLA), Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation istrict (CCSWCD), Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP), Highland Lake Leadership Team (HLLT), and the Towns of Windham and Falmouth. 

MAY 2018 

Highland Lake Watershed Survey Conducted

MAY 2018


With Town funding, CCSWCD wrote a grant proposal to MDEP and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a Watershed Management Plan that will serve as the basis for applying for funds to repair erosion sites identified in the Highland Lake Watershed Survey.



CCSWCD awarded grant funding to work with a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to develop an updated Highland Lake Watershed Management Plan. Funding provided partially by EPA under Section 604(b) of the Clean Water Act. The Technical Advisory Committee includes representatives from MDEP, HLA, and the Towns of Windham and Falmouth.



TAC to focus on action items to serve as basis for watershed plan. Some of these include:

·      Septic Survey

·      Watershed Survey Final Report (1/2019)

·      Ordinance Updates

·      Phosphorous Loading Modeling

·      Community Outreach / Public Involvement

·      Survey of BMPs Previously Installed throughout Watershed



Once an updated Highland Watershed Management Plan has been completed and approved, CCSWCD to apply for EPA/MDEP Section 319 Clean Water Act grant funds to address erosion sites identified throughout the Highland Lake Watershed.

January 2021 


Earliest potential date for EPA/MDEP grant funds to become available to address Highland Lake’s erosion sites. 


2018 Watershed Projects

So, the question remains:  Given that grant funding from the EPA will not come “on line” until the 2021 season, what are our options?

One source for funding in 2018 came from the Town of Windham.  The HLA was awarded a $10,000 Watershed Protection Grant from the Town of Windham.  With cash match from two participating road associations, two high priority sites that had been identified in the Watershed Survey were repaired:  The Swan Road ROW and a portion of Highland Shore Road. 

Swan Road ROW

Highland Shore Road

Then there is the myriad of additional residential and road sites that await remediation.

Since the projected funding from the EPA will not be coming online until 2021, the HLA will be seeking funding from sources like the Town of Windham to be utilized as match money when applied to the mitigation of residential and road sites within the Highland Lake Watershed during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. 


At this point HLA is collaborating with several agencies to develop the Watershed Management Plan. Your input as well as questions and suggestions are welcome.  Please feel free to contact any member of the Technical Advisory Committee:


Heather Huntt, Project Coordinator, CCSWCD,

Rosie Hartzler, President, HLA

Kim White, V. Pres of HLA

Gretchen Anderson, Town of Windham,

Wendy Garland, DEP,

Jeff Dennis, DEP,

Kimberly Darling, Town of Falmouth, 

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