Boats Banned From Great Meadow Stream, Portion of Great Pond To Facilitate Fight Against Invasive Milfoil

May 24, 2012

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-The expanded surface use restriction jointly issued by the Maine Departments of Environmental Protection and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife enables effective suppression of variable leaf milfoil and prevent its spread to other parts of Great Pond-

BELGRADE – As boating season begins, the Maine Departments of Environmental Protection and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are reminding recreationists of a temporary ban of all boats on Great Meadow Stream and a portion of Great Pond in the Belgrade Lakes Region to enable effective control efforts of a variable leaf milfoil infestation on the popular waterway.

A narrower restriction has been in place since 2010 on Great Meadow Stream.

The expanded surface use restriction extends from where Route 225 crosses Great Meadow Stream in Rome and Smithfield southward into the northern portion of North Bay in Great Pond. It went into effect last month and will continue through September 21.

Buoys labeled “Area Closed”, deployed and maintained by DEP with assistance from the Maine Department of Conservation’s Boating Facilities Division, mark the southern boundary of the restriction.

By the order, signed by DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho and IFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock, no watercraft may enter or travel these waterways except in emergency situations or when state officials and endorsed partners are doing survey or removal work related to the variable leaf milfoil infestation.

Starting September 22, non-motorized watercraft including kayaks and canoes will be allowed in those waterways, but motorized craft will remain prohibited through the year’s end.

The state anticipates the surface use restriction will limit the spread of the plant, which is Maine’s most common aquatic invasive and accounts for 17 of the 23 infested lake systems documented in Maine. The restriction will also allow DEP staff and local partners including the Belgrade Lakes Association and Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance safe space to do plant removal work.

“Temporary surface use restrictions are a rarely-used but integral tool to tackle invasives and their devastating impact. We are confident that this short-term inconvenience will have a long-term payoff in protecting Great Pond’s water quality, habitat for native fisheries and wildlife, recreational opportunities and values of lakefront property,” said John McPhedran, director of the DEP’s Invasive Aquatic Plants program.

The sole other surface use restriction currently in place in the state is on Davis Stream in Jefferson to stop the spread of hydrilla into Damariscotta Lake and allow for the continuation of plant removal efforts by DEP and the Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association that began last fall.

In Maine’s largely successful fight against invasive aquatic plants, prevention is the priority. The most effective prevention effort continues to be the Courtesy Boat Inspection Program, through which the DEP contracts with the Lakes Environmental Association and the Maine Congress of Lake Associations to train volunteers and organize a statewide inspection program. In 2011, these trained inspectors conducted 76,105 inspections on 116 waterbodies, making 287 saves that stopped the spread mostly of variable leaf milfoil plant fragments.

In an effort to bolster the Courtesy Boat Inspection Program, DEP encourages all boaters to commit to self-inspecting their boat and related equipment, which takes just a few minutes and should be conducted both before and after a boat floats. Boaters should check for and remove any found plant debris from the anchor, lines, live well, bilge, motor prop, all fishing gear and their trailer and related equipment including the hitch, trailer axle and license plate.

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/water/invasives 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.

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