November & December 2023 News

Magical Winter Landscape at Lake Wassookeag by Greg A. Hartford

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In This Issue

  1. Thank you and Year-End Giving
  2. Member Survey: What Are Your Lake Priorities?
  3. 2023 LakeSmart Summary and Thank You
  4. Loon Rescue at the Basin
  5. Excerpt from Our Maine: Exploring Its Rich Natural Heritage
  6. Healthy Lakes Videos Series Continues
  7. 2024 Joint Maine Lakes Conference: Join the Planning Team
  8. From Our Friends at DEP: Summer 2023 Smoke Survey
  9. From Our Friends at Lake Stewards of Maine: Ice-In Dates

Thank you and Year End Giving

Hello Maine Lakes,


As we wrap up 2024 with one last e-news, and as Thanksgiving is less than a week away, I thought it was a good time to express a heartfelt thank you to our readers, activists, volunteers, members, and supporters for all you do for Maine’s lakes. Your interest in and action on behalf of Maine’s lakes means so much to me, the staff of Maine Lakes, and our board of trustees. We simply would not succeed in our mission of protecting Maine’s lakes without your generous support of time, energy, and interest.  


Thank you for all you do! 


Thank you, too, to the many members and financial supporters who give so generously to help our lake programming grow and thrive. Whether it’s annual giving, legacy giving, estate giving, or year-end giving, your donations are appreciated, and they are essential to our work. Ending our fiscal year with a balanced budget, which is a goal we once again hope to meet at the end of this year, allows us to start 2024 off on solid financial footing and to dedicate our staff time and resources to developing and implementing programs that make a difference to Maine’s lakes.  


If you’ve given in the past year, thank you! You’ll be receiving an appeal shortly with an update of our work this past year and some of our plans for 2024. A shortcut to our donation form is here.


If you’re new to Maine Lakes, please take a quick look at our appeal message here and our donation link here. We hope you agree that the work we do is worthy of your support and that you will join our year-end campaign that sets us up for lake conservation success in 2024. 


May your upcoming holidays be filled with friends, family, loved ones, and the joy of the season. 


Many thanks for all that you do for Maine’s lakes.  


Susan Gallo 

Executive Director 

Member Survey: What Are

Your Lake Priorities?

 As we look ahead to 2024, we’d love to hear your thoughts about the work we do. Are there programs that resonate with you (and that we should prioritize in 2024?) Are there issues of concern for lake conservation that we are missing? How can we better support our lake association members? I know enthusiasm for surveys has been waning but please take just a few minutes of your day to share your thoughts with us via this short survey. It will help us map our way forward and assure that we are addressing the interests and passions of lake advocates like you who are critically important to future lake health.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today! 


As an incentive to participate, your name will be entered into a drawing for a Wild Seed Project plant guide that will help you identify native plants suitable for your shoreline or wherever you live! The winner can choose a shrub, groundcover or tree guide. Click here for more information.

2023 LakeSmart Summary and Thank You

You might have seen this in the recent LakeSmart enews, but we thought it was worth sharing here, too. Our LakeSmart team put together this informative summary of the 2023 LakeSmart season. A season highlight is the group of 118 dedicated volunteer evaluators (listed on page two) that gave over 1,200 hours of their time to the LakeSmart Program. That's a value of over $35,000!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all our LakeSmart volunteers for making this program a success year after year.  


If you have any questions about LakeSmart or would like to create or join a LakeSmart team, reach out to LakeSmart Program Manager Andrea Stevens at

To sign up to receive the quarterly LakeSmart enews, click here.

Loon Rescue at the Basin

A crew from Biodiversity Research Institute removes monofilament line from the leg of a loon on Lake Auburn in the summer of 2023.

Now that most of Maine’s loons have left our lakes and ponds (though undoubtedly some young birds will linger as long as the new year if the ice allows), it’s a great time to reflect back on the 2023 Look Out for Loons season. 


One incident that really highlighted how volunteers can help loons survive and thrive on Maine’s lakes occurred last summer on Lake Auburn. Look Out for Loons volunteers who paddle regularly in the area known as the Basin noticed an adult loon with a problem. This loon was a parent raising a chick, and upon closer inspection, the boaters realized the loon had fishing tackle embedded in the web of its foot. 


Word went out quickly to Avian Haven, a bird rescue organization in Freedom and to Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) in Portland, an organization that has extensive experience with loon rescues. Within 24 hours a BRI team arrived at the Basin. They quickly captured the entangled loon, removed the tackle, provided a health check, and released the mother loon back so she could care for her chick. This was a true success thanks to quick action by everyone involved. 


Entanglement from improperly discarded fishing tackle or monofilament line, which, no surprise, is invisible to loons in the water, continues to be a leading cause of death to Maine’s loons. Too often these entanglements go unnoticed. Even when reported, they don’t always end happily like in this case. The real key to preventing loon injury and death due to fishing tackle is preventing them in the first place. Retrieving and properly disposing of fishing line and tackle is always the best measure. 


Lead poisoning, the second highest cause of adult loon death in Maine, is another issue where Maine anglers can help. Fish Lead Free is a state-wide initiative which provides anglers with information about alternatives to lead sinkers and jigs and even provides information on lead buy-back programs and upcoming tackle exchanges. Maine bans the sale and use of lead sinkers weighing one ounce or less as well as the sale and use of painted lead jigs 2.5” or less. In September of 2026, painted lead jigs will no longer be allowed. Click here to learn more about the Fish Lead Free Program. 


As you dream about seeing loons on the lake again in 2024, now is a great time to contact Maine Lakes for more information about scheduling a Look Out for Loons presentation at your lake association meeting, creating or joining a Look Out for Loons volunteer team, setting up a community lead-tackle exchange, or installing a lead and monofilament collection station near your lake. We can also help you create a Look Out for Loons outreach initiative that will help lake residents and visitors understand how to enjoy the lake while also protecting loons.  

For more information, email

James Reddoch

Summer 2023 Look Out For Loons Manager  

Excerpt from Our Maine:

Exploring Its Rich Natural Heritage

While we are on the topic of loons, which you probably know by now are near and dear to Susan Gallo, our Executive Director's heart, we wanted to share an essay she wrote for a wonderful new book recently published by Downeast. The book was edited by Aram Calhoun, Mac Hunter, and Kent Redford, who did an amazing job bringing together many dozens of seasoned Maine ecologists, biologists, botanists, and naturalists to share their insights and experiences across Maine’s many landscapes and habitats. Susan was deeply honored to be invited to contribute an essay about Maine’s iconic Common Loon to the chapter dedicated to Maine’s lakes and ponds. She was tasked with writing an essay that captured experiences and emotions around the species, as opposed to regurgitating natural history facts. She enjoyed the opportunity to write creatively about her favorite bird, and to join such a storied company of talented colleagues. One of these days when you have a spare moment with a mug of coffee or cup of tea, take a moment to read about her connection to, and love for, Maine’s Common Loon.


If you enjoy it and want to read more, you should be able to find Our Maine at local book sellers as well as at Proceeds benefit Maine conservation projects. 

Keeping Lakes Healthy Videos Series

Filmmaker Ben Keller captures the work of the Action Wakefield Watershed Alliance's

Youth Conservation Crew on Belleau Lake in New Hampshire in July of 2023.

If you're like most homeowners, yard improvements beyond the basics can be a challenge. To help overcome this challenge, Maine Lakes has created a series of "Keeping Lakes Healthy" videos that highlight the installation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) in order to help properties manage stormwater runoff, reduce erosion and protect lake health. The videos produced so far can be found on our homepage and on our BMP web page.  


We are happy to share that we continued working with our talented film maker Ben Keller in 2023 to add three more Healthy Lakes videos to this series. Ben visited a crew of Youth Conservation Corp workers with the Action Wakefield Watershed Alliance on Belleau Lake (pictured above, working on an infiltration path, finished product to the left) and another crew working in the Belgrades with 7 Lakes Alliance installing an open-top culvert. He also visited an amazing LakeSmart volunteer team on Georges Lake to get an overview of what LakeSmart looks like and to highlight a few of the many BMP efforts that team has undertaken to protect their lake.

 We still have to raise some more funds to get this amazing footage produced into the three finished videos over this winter. Stay tuned and check back here, where we'll post the videos once they are finished..

2024 Joint Maine Lakes Conference:

Join the Planning Team

Maine Lakes is pleased to share that the 2024 lakes conference will again be co-hosted with Lake Stewards of Maine. The Conference Planning Team, made up of staff and board from each organizations as well as lake community members, will start meeting in December to pull together the details for the 2024 conference, including the date, location, and theme.  


If you attended the conference in 2023, and are interested in helping us pull together an even better conference in 2024, please consider joining the Planning Team. We will meet once a month from December through May, with a few more meetings scheduled in the month prior to the conference. It is a very engaged group of lake enthusiasts, with many opportunities to help shape what we are sure will be an exciting and engaging conference. If you’d like to join us, please shoot us an email. We look forward to hearing from you! 


There is also still time to participate in a short survey to share your thoughts on the content for the 2024 conference 2024. If you haven’t participated yet, please take a few minutes to share your thoughts here. Many thanks!

News from Friends at DEP:

Summer 2023 Smoke Survey

By: Darrell Dyke, Bangor Daily News

Summertime Wildfire Smoke over Maine Lakes Survey, Maine DEP 


The Summer of 2023 was vastly different than past years with wildfire smoke from various regions in Canada impacting the Eastern United States. Mainers reported many instances of smoke hovering over lakes after the morning fog lifted. Since these reports are somewhat new, Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) meteorologists would like to learn more about how wildfire smoke behaves, and just how widespread this phenomenon might be. 


DEP’s interest is only in wildfire smoke that remained over the body of water after the fog had lifted. If you observed any poor visibility conditions over a lake due to wildfire smoke this past summer, please fill out this brief survey  


If you made similar observations on more than one lake, we ask that you fill out a new survey for each lake. The survey does require that you provide an e-mail address, but please be assured it will not be shared with anyone other than our internal Maine DEP air-quality staff.  


This survey is open through the end of the day on Nov 20th. Thank you in advance for your willingness to help us learn more, as we strive to provide the most accurate air-quality forecasts possible! 

News From Our Friends at Lake Stewards of Maine: Ice-In Dates

Ice Fishing by Captain Kimo

Ice-In Dates, Lake Stewards of Maine 


Autumn is changing to winter, with colder temperatures, morning frost, and a thin layer of ice forming on the lake. It is with this in mind that we at Lake Stewards of Maine are sharing both our forms for submitting ice cover data, and a wonderful ice cover summary document that breaks down information county by county, Zumbrun and Taber. 2023: "Ice Data in Maine Lakes"


More general information about the ice-cover tracking system can be found on ourice-tracking page.


This ice cover tracking data is integral in documenting climate change effects and improving our understanding of water quality health and risks to particular water bodies. 


If your lake community is not currently tracking ice cover, we strongly encourage you to start. The cold winters of Maine are important to its lakes, both in our cultural history and ecological health. Certification is not required to track this data, nor do you need to live on a waterbody to record ice-cover data. 

  • Ice-in data can be submitted using this form.  
  • General information on the practice of ice tracking can be found HERE.  
  • Summary information by Zumbrun and Taber can be found HERE.  
  • A fantastic webinar from 2020, "Lake Ice Regimes" presented by Lloyd Irland, can be found HERE.  
  • If you have any questions, please contact  


Look for our next newsletter in January!

Click here if you need to renew your membership or would like to donate to Maine Lakes

Thank you for your support!