Maine DEP Urges Boaters To Self-Inspect For Invasives

June 30, 2011

CONTACT:
Samantha DePoy-Warren, Maine DEP Spokesperson/Director of Education & Outreach samantha.depoy-warren@maine.gov/ 592-0427 (cell) or Paul Gregory, Maine DEP Environmental Specialist paul.gregory@maine.gov/ 441-0627 (cell)

AUGUSTA – The find of an invasive plant fragment on a boat about to be launched into a western Maine lake is a reminder of the importance of boat inspections this boating season, say scientists with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Of Maine’s nearly 6,000 lakes, only 33 of them are currently known to be infested with invasive aquatic plants, which can hijack the habitat of native fisheries, flora and fauna; degrade water quality; diminish property values; and reduce water recreation opportunity including fishing, boating and swimming.

The department’s Invasive Aquatic Species Program manages a contract with the Bridgton-based Lakes Environmental Association to run the Courtesy Boat Inspection Program, which is funded through the sales of stickers sold as part of boat registration.

Trained courtesy boat inspectors, both paid and volunteer, monitor boat launches during high traffic periods and inspect boats, trailers and related equipment for invasive aquatic plants while taking time to educate owners on steps to self-inspect and remove vegetation from boating and fishing equipment.

In 2010 alone, these 650 trained inspectors logged more than 37,000 hours while conducting nearly 73,000 inspections at 154 launch sites on 119 water bodies, an impressive 15,000 inspections more than in 2009. 2,000 plants were intercepted, 281 of which were invasive aquatic plants.

It was a trained courtesy boat inspector from the Lovell Invasive Plant Prevention Committee who last week found the Eurasian water milfoil fragment on a boat before it was launched into Kezer Lake in Lovell.

The previous water body the boat had been on, Tripp Lake in Poland, reports no record of detections of invasive aquatic plants and so the Volunteer Lakes Monitoring Program is this week conducting a survey of that lake to ensure there is no infestation.

Lake lovers and scientists from Maine DEP’s Invasive Aquatic Species Program say the interception shows how a careful inspection lasting no longer than a few minutes can save countless hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars in plant management alone.

“Plant invasion is preventable but an established infestation is forever,” explained DEP’s Paul Gregory, an environmental specialist. “The best bang for the buck in the fight against invasive aquatic plants is prevention and once again, local lakes groups and their boat inspectors have played a vital role in these proven prevention efforts.”

While awareness about invasives and their threat to Maine’s lakes is higher than ever, less than 20 percent of boaters inspect their boats and equipment before and after launching, a DEP study shows.

The department urges boaters to always inspect their boating gear including motor prop, anchors and anchor chains, baitwell and trailers before entering and after leaving any lake or pond. Any vegetation collected should be disposed of in regular trash.

To report a suspicious plant population and/or receive information on how to send a specimen of concern to the department for identification, call 207-287-3901 or email milfoil@maine.gov.

For more information on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Invasive Aquatic Species Program and steps you can take to prevent plant invasion, visit http://www.maine.gov/dep and click “Invasive Aquatic Plants” under the featured links.

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