On Sunday, July 21 an inspector from the Lakes Environmental Association was working at Sebago Lake State Park. Ella was about halfway through her 8 hour shift when a jet ski came to the ramp, traveling from the Mystic River in Massachusetts, but they were Maine residents just returning home. The jet ski looked clean until Ella crouched down to look at the intake area on the bottom, where she discovered a large clump of plants hanging down. She removed as much as possible and bagged it up. The boater seemed to be unaware of how serious it was to transport plants on watercraft and wasn't concerned. After removing as much as possible the boater launched their jet ski into Sebago Lake. When they returned two hours later the owner appeared to be more concious and apologized for their lack of attentiveness. Sebago Lake has several infestations of variable milfoil throughout the lake and the boater may have seen several areas marked with yellow buoys.
Ella brought the fragments to the LEA office where most of it was immediately identified as Eurasian Milfoil. Lake Stewards and Maine and the Maine DEP quickly confirmed the ID. There was also a large amount of hornwort mixed in, which looks similar from a distance. The Mystic River Watershed Association is currently working on eradicating water chestnut but there is almost no mention of control measures for what is obviously a healthy population of Eurasian milfoil.
In hindsight it would have been prudent for the inspector to ask them to clean their jet ski at the wash station nearby. However, as we know, it is the boaters responsibility to not transport aquatic plants. While this is a good learning opportunity for inspectors it is another reminder that many boaters are not taking this responsibility seriously. Clearly more education about, and enforcement of, the laws in Maine is needed. Several people have asked if the inspector should have called the game warden. First, the inspector did not know for sure that the plants were invasive. Second, the owner of the jet ski was cooperative and allowed inspection. If we start calling the wardens on willing participants in the program, they will quickly become unwilling to allow inspections.