March Lake e-News
For the Sake of Maine's Lakes
(Photo Credit: Ice Fishing on Eagle Lake, Brother M, Flicker)


There is much to share in this new e-format for our newsletter so the introduction will be short. Suffice it to say we will be reaching out monthly to members and donors with more timely news that we hope you can use, all related to the health of Maine's lakes. Read on for this month's issue, and look for another to come to your inbox in April.

Thank you for all you do for Maine's lakes!

  1.  Newsletter Change
  2.  Legislative Update
  3.  Maine Lakes Joint Conference Registration is OPEN
  4.  LakeSmart 2022 Update
  5. The Value of LakeSmart Buffers
  6. Maine Boating Impacts Coalition Meeting
  7. The Maine Water and Sustainability Conference
  8. My Summer with Maine Lakes, Karen McNeil, Summer Intern
  9. Meet the Board: Gail Rice
  10. Meet the Staff: Caroline Murray
1) Newsletter Change
For most of our 52-year history, Maine Lakes has sent out biannual newsletters filled with information, updates, and tips for lake-friendly living. While we would love to continue that tradition, it’s one that requires a lot of resources to create, design, print and mail. Maine Lakes staff and board decided to try using our limited resources more wisely and move our newsletter to an electronic format. This new format will allow us to reach you more often (aiming for monthly) which will be especially helpful for time-sensitive events and issues (like some of the items you’ll see in this issue) as well as late-breaking news. We will keep the articles shorter, with links to additional resources where applicable but as always, Maine Lakes staff and board are available if you have questions about anything we share or if you want more information. For our members without email, a print version of our e-news will be mailed the old-fashioned way. We hope this format works for you, and that you find our e-news to be just as helpful, insightful, and useful as our print version!
2) Legislative Update
The 131st session of the Maine Legislature is in full swing with over 2,000 bills on the docket for the various committees to get through by the end of the session in June. Even though the legislature is in person in 2023, we are pleased that this year’s public hearings are a hybrid of in-person and Zoom options. So there are lots of ways to speak up and we need you to do that more than ever! Some of the lake bills that have come before committees so far:
LD 164: An Act to Fund the Lake Restoration and Protection Fund

A huge thank you to the more than 100 lake enthusiasts who spoke up at the hearing or submitted written testimony. You should know that your action helped get a unanimous vote out of the committee in support of the bill. The funding amount was set at $2.5 million over two years, and we will need to wait and see if there is enough of a budget surplus to fill the fund at the end of the session. But it’s still a big win! The committee heard loud and clear that there is much work to be done to protect our lakes, and that more funding is needed. A big thanks to Rep. Bill Bridgeo of Augusta for sponsoring this important bill. We will keep you updated on what happens with this fund in June when the budget surplus is allocated.
LD 92: An Act to Minimize the Propagation of Invasive Aquatic Plants

Another huge thank you to the more than 30 lake enthusiasts who spoke up in support of this “clean, drain, dry” bill. While the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife once again opposes the bill and advocates for an educational approach to reduce the risk of invasive species spread, Maine Lakes along with many regional watershed associations and many of you spoke to the need for regulation to be paired with increased outreach and education to be most effective. We are working with the sponsor (Rep. Walter Riseman) and the committee on language to reduce enforceability issues and help this bill move ahead.. The work session has not been scheduled yet but to check on the bill status, visit our Advocacy page.
LD 693: An Act to Protect Inland Water Quality, Shorelines, Wildlife and Public Safety

This bill would prohibit large-wake-producing activities (such as wake surfing and wake boarding) within 500’ of shore. Large wakes take around 500’ to dissipate so keeping activities further from shore allows wakes to become closer to what other boats operating 200’ away from shore (the existing “no wake zone”) produce. Large wakes hitting the shoreline damage property, degrade water and wildlife habitat quality, and pose a threat to human safety. The bill has been printed (click here) but no public hearing has been scheduled. We will be doing a grassroots activist alert as soon it is scheduled and you can learn more at the upcoming boat impact meeting (see #6 below). Look for updated fact sheets and Maine Lakes testimony to be posted at our Advocacy page shortly and please consider speaking up for the bill!
We are still waiting for a bill to be printed that would increase the Lake and River Protection Sticker Fee. This is a much-needed increase due to rapidly increasing personnel costs, labor shortages, growing invasives species spread, and increased levels of boating in the state.

If you want timely updates when action is most needed, please send an email to to be added to the Grassroots Activist list.
3) Maine Lakes Joint Conference Registration is now open!

We are very excited to announce not only that the Maine Lakes Conference is back and in-person, but also that it will be hosted jointly with Lake Stewards of Maine. The date is June 17th and the place is the China Lake Conference Center. Registration has just opened. There is a discount for early registration, and also a discount for LakeSmart volunteers, Water Quality monitors, and Invasive Plant Patrollers. Check the conference webpage for more information about the programming, workshops, sponsors, door prizes, and silent auction items that will be at this all-day, engaging and inspiring day. Information will be added in the coming weeks as the schedule of speakers and activities is finalized. To register, click here. (Note that you will need a separate registration for each attendee. We apologize for the inconvenience.)

If you have a business and would like to sponsor the conference, please visit our sponsorship page here.

We can't wait to see you in-person at China Lake in June!
4)  LakeSmart 2022 Update
Andrea Stevens, LakeSmart Manager

The 2022 LakeSmart season was a year of learning and becoming more familiar with the updated evaluation standards. It was a pleasure meeting and talking with the LakeSmart evaluation teams about the program and the updated evaluation standards during a few visits in the field and in phone and email conversations. I am grateful for the guidance offered by experienced evaluators, especially Roy Lambert, former Maine Lakes and volunteer for Lakes Environmental Association, and Maggie Shannon, long-time LakeSmart Program Director, who patiently answered many questions as I reviewed this year’s LakeSmart evaluations, sharing their perspectives about the many nuances of the survey process. 

Stay tuned for more news in April about both on-line and in-person trainings for 2023. If your community group or lake association would like to start up a LakeSmart program, or you want to learn more about what LakeSmart is all about, please send me an email at I look forward to hearing from you!
5) The Value of Shoreline Buffers
Andrea Stevens, LakeSmart Manager

Many evaluators contacted me during the season with insightful questions and comments about the shoreline buffer standards. Lakeshore buffers serve as the last line of defense to protect lakes from stormwater runoff, erosion, and storm impacts. Vegetated buffers protect lake water quality by catching and infiltrating sediment and non-point source pollution, including sources of excess phosphorus, before reaching the lake. Buffers also stabilize shorelines and offer vital habitat for both terrestrial and aquatic wildlife.
The most effective shoreline buffer is multi-layered with canopy and midstory trees, shrubs, groundcover, and “duff.” Duff is the layer below the leaf litter and above the mineral soil and feels soft on the feet. It is full of decomposing organic matter including leaves, woody debris, and dead plant material. A LakeSmart buffer is at least 10 feet deep (more on steep slopes), continuous (without significant breaks), and made up of at least three layers of vegetation.
The photos below show examples of a 5-layer buffer and a 3-layer buffer, both meeting LakeSmart standards. To plant or enhance a buffer, we recommend using native species that are accustomed to local conditions and changes in climate. Native plants are also less costly than non-native counterparts, are rarely invasive, and require less maintenance. To learn more about buffers, come to the Maine Lakes Conference or volunteer for a LakeSmart team. You can also read several excellent informational pieces about buffers at our Lake Library
Left: A gorgeous five-layer shoreline buffer (photo by Kacey Webber)
Above: A beautiful three-layer shoreline buffer (photo by Ginger Eliasberg)
6) Maine Boating Impacts Coalition Meeting

March 14, 3:00 pm via Zoom

Worried about the impact of big wakes to a lake you love? Join members of the Maine Boating Impacts Coalition, a collaborative group of lake and watershed associations and boaters that has been working for more than a year to gather information about the issues around large wakes and the policy solutions that could both protect Maine’s lakes and support wakesport activities. Click the link below to join a one-hour zoom session with the Maine Boating Impacts Coalition on March 14th at 3:00 p.m. We will talk about wakes and their impacts, have a legislative primer for upcoming action for LD 693, and leave plenty of time for questions and discussion.
Sign up for emails from the coalition:

We hope we see you there!
7) The Maine Water and Sustainability Conference

Thursday, March 30th at the Augusta Civic Center, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There are several sessions of interest to lake enthusiasts at this year’s Water and Sustainability Conference in Augusta. The conference is a great way to learn more about what is going on with lakes in Maine and network with scientists, researchers, activists and students who are working on emerging lake issues. This year there are several sessions of interest, including:
  • Cyanotoxins in Maine Lakes (including talks on eDNA, Damariscotta’s cyanobacteria problems, and Microcystin concentrations in Maine Lakes)
  • Celebrating the Clean Water Act (including talks on the history of the act, how water classifications have changed, and trends in toxic chemicals in Maine’s freshwater fish)
  • Septic Systems In Lake Watersheds (including talks on septic health, inspections, and tracers for septic effluent)
  • Invasive Species Management (including talks on non-native lady beetles, eDNA tools, and long-term invasive species management)
To register, click here.
FMI, click here.

Maine Lakes is a conference sponsor, and our staff will have a table of materials at the event. Stop by and say hello!
8) My Summer with Maine Lakes
Karen McNeil
2022 Loon Restoration Project Intern
During the summer of 2022, Maine Lakes partnered with Maine Audubon to work with volunteers to launch and monitor loon rafts on select Maine lakes. The project is part of a restoration project funded after an oil spill off the coast of Massachusetts killed over 100 wintering loons. We were lucky to hire Karen McNeil to work on the project last summer, and she generously shared her thoughts about her summer. If you are interested in launching rafts in 2023, Maine Audubon will be managing all the raft launches this coming summer. Email their team at FMI. Look for news on a new “Look Out For Loons” outreach program, run by Maine Lakes, in the next issue of our e-news.
My time with Maine Lakes will be remembered as the most unforgettable summer. Looking back on this journey, I ask “where did all the time go?” so, I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun.
During the summer of 2022, I traveled to sixteen of Maine’s glorious lakes and engaged with dozens of members from different communities. Each visit came with a new story, passion, and goal set by those wanting to work to preserve their lake’s beauty. The feeling of working together with a group towards a common goal is something I’ve missed during the isolation of the pandemic. Two years ago, something like the Loon Restoration Project – getting volunteers to help build, launch and monitor nesting loons - would have seemed unachievable. Now, I feel it’s been an amazing way to bring people back together.
On one visit this summer, I was fortunate enough to attend the Three Mile Pond Association meeting and present the Loon Restoration Project to their members. At first, I was nervous to present in a room full of people I hardly knew. When it was my time to speak, I dove into the project without hesitation. Upon finishing, the audience roared with applause and hands flew in the air as they were eager to know more. Shortly after my presentation, the association gifted me a beautiful hand-carved blue heron. This piece was created by George Gunning, a member of their association and long-time resident of Three Mile Pond. George has been creating hand-carved pieces for decades, he even was part of the Eagle Cane Project in 2014. In the Eagle Cane Project, George and fellow wood carvers from the Maine Wood Carver Association and Maine Woodturners created eagle canes for disabled veterans in appreciation and recognition for their service. George decided that in carving the blue herons for the Three Mile Pond Association meeting, these would be one of his last pieces. I am honored to have this piece from George, this is something I know I will have for the rest of my life and will always remind me of the kindness of those I met at Three Mile Pond
Outside of the Loon Restoration Project, I was able to work with our wonderful LakeSmart Manager Andrea Stevens on some LakeSmart projects. I want to thank her for allowing me the opportunity to work with her and her coordinators. My experience with LakeSmart created a new perspective for me on how we can work with those living on the lakes to preserve the natural environment for those of the future.
These projects also applied what I’ve been learning at the University of Maine. I feel this internship was a great way to get my foot in the door as I work toward my wildlife degree. I’m eager to return to the university and share my experience of what Maine Lakes had to offer. I hope to engage my peers with Maine Lakes and my stories. Thank you, Maine Lakes, for a great summer!
9) Meet New Board Member Gail Rice

How did you learn about Maine Lakes? I love spending time enjoying the outdoors with friends. A couple of them are active with Maine Lakes, so naturally, the conversation would often turn to what I affectionately called “lake talk”. I was intrigued, wanted to learn more, and they happily obliged!

Why did you decide to join the board at Maine Lakes Society? I am newly retired after working a couple decades in communications and media relations for a corporation. I finally have time to use my skills and experience in an area that lines up with my passion for the outdoors and protecting our natural resources. It didn’t take long for my friends to recruit me!

Is there an experience from your past that has made you more aware of your natural surroundings? I have loved the outdoors, and particularly being around the water, since I was a kid. I spent tons of time in the woods behind my childhood home, paid many visits to my aunt’s rustic camp on a remote northern New England pond, and took countless camping trips with family (where my only request was that we be on or near the water). I just loved the sights and sounds of being outside, near water, and surrounded by nature. So I‘ve had lots of experiences as opposed to a single “ah-ha” moment.

What’s the single most important thing we can do to protect Maine lakes? We need to enhance the natural elements that make our lakes special and avoid using chemicals and other man-made products like fertilizers and herbicides. Build modest structures, preserve natural vegetation, and take other measures to protect water quality. Spacious homes with finely manicured lawns and landscaping might work in a suburban subdivision, but they are out of place on our lakes and ponds and pose a serious threat to water quality.

Why should younger people be involved in lake and pond conservation? The Maine Lakes’ mission states, in part, “… we work to protect and preserve the values and benefits of Maine’s lakes, ponds, and watersheds for future generations.” So it only makes sense to get future generations involved early and often. Studies by the United Nations show an overwhelming majority of the world’s youth not only feel the effects of climate change, but are eager to do something about it. Here in the U.S., the Pew Research Center found that Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X all think that ensuring a sustainable planet for future generations should be a top priority. Let’s harness this energy and desire and get young people involved!

If you could be any animal that lives on, by, or near a lake what would you be and why? A river otter. They are agile and adaptable, and I like their social structure and emphasis on play. Sliding down the mud and snow into the water has a certain appeal.

What’s your favorite Maine lake and why? I’d have to say Moosehead, with its many islands, bays and coves, and proximity to hiking places like Kineo and Spencer Mountain. That said, Branch Lake near Ellsworth holds a place in my heart for the childhood memories of sitting on the rocks, hanging my feet in the water and having the sunfish nibble on my toes! 
10  Meet Maine Lakes Staff: Caroline Murray
Last but certainly not least, we are thrilled to have added a second part-time LakeSmart staff member this past fall! We are excited to welcome Caroline Murray, the new LakeSmart Coordinator for Maine Lakes. Caroline recently relocated to Maine from Washington State and is enjoying life as an East Coaster. She has a background in natural resources with degrees in forestry and entomology from Iowa State University where she researched native bee communities. She enjoys all things gardening and loves to go camping with her partner and their two dogs. Caroline is based in Millbridge, so she will be able to help the LakeSmart grow and thrive in Downeast and northern Maine. While we don’t see Caroline too often in person, she’ll be at the Maine Lakes Conference in June so plan to find her and say hello!
Thanks for reading the March e-News. Look for the next one in April!

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