October 2023 News

Autumn at Eagle Lake in Acadia by Greg A. Hartford

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Fall is an especially lovely time to be out on Maine’s lakes. While I know a few hearty swimmers are still donning wetsuits, many more of you are squeezing the last warm days in on top of (or beside) the water. Whatever it is you are doing on a Maine lake this season, please take a moment to remember that Maine’s Wabanaki tribes are the original caretakers of our waters. As we celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, I urge you to learn more about the issues the tribes are working on by visiting the Wabanaki Alliance and to support the work they do. You can also support Wabanaki tribes by voting yes on Question 6 in November.

More than 100 years ago, the state of Maine stopped printing the complete version of the Maine constitution. The missing sections include language about Maine’s original treaty obligations to the Wabanaki. Passing Question 6 will help us all remember and understand the history, commitments, and obligations the government made to the Wabanaki people.

As an organization that works to protect lakes and ponds, we are grateful to the Wabanaki for thousands of years of stewardship of our freshwater resources. As we look ahead, we see many opportunities to learn from the amazing work they do today as they continue that legacy of stewardship.

Susan Gallo

Executive Director

In This Issue

  1. Wakeboat Stakeholders Meetings
  2. Webinars for Lake Advocates
  3. Sponsor Spotlight: Woodard and Curran Foundation
  4. Maine Lake Talk on Slack: Join a brainstorming session on November 8th!
  5. LakeSmart Interactive Map
  6. Let Your Leaves Lie
  7. Healthy Beaches Wrap Up
  8. Cyanobacteria Testing Opportunity

Wakeboat Stakeholders Meetings

Bernie Deshaies demonstrates the art of wake surfing in the frigid waters of Long Lake in Naples for the Wake Boat stakeholder group on Sept. 29th.

During the last legislative session, Representative Walter Riseman, supported by a host of cosponsors and a broad coalition of lake groups, sponsored LD 693, which would have required active wake surfers to be more than 500 feet from shore and in water more than 20 feet deep. The change would have protected property, safety, and wildlife habitat by making sure the large wakes generated by wake surfing boats dissipate before they reach shore. This is the reason behind the 200 foot “no wake zone” that has been in place for more than 20 years for all boaters. Two hundred feet is enough distance for the wakes from most boats to diminish before they reach shore. But for larger wakes like those required for wake surfing, 200’ feet is simply not enough. Maine Lakes is fully supportive of boating, and wake surfing! It’s a great sport for families and a great way to enjoy time on the lake. We would just like it to happen a little bit further from shore so that the impacts on other boaters, docks, shorelines, water quality, and wildlife are reduced. 


Despite overwhelming public support, and great efforts by several legislators to find a compromise, LD 693 did not make it through committee. However, a bill creating a stakeholder group to review the issue did pass. As a result of that bill, Maine Lakes is participating in that group this fall to review data about wakeboat impacts and to try to reach consensus on which impacts the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee should be considering when drafting potential legislative alternatives in January. The stakeholder group is diverse, and includes representatives from the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Maine Manufacturers Association, Maine Lakes, Lakes Environmental Association, Maine Audubon and also includes a game warden, a marina owner, a summer camp representative, and two legislators. The group is lead by staff from Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and an outside facilitator.  


The group has had two meetings, the last one of which was hosted by James Davenport, owner of Long Lake Marina in Naples. James walked the group through the different types of boats that produce the kind of wakes that wake surfers use and took the group out on several runs of the boats engaged in wakesurfing mode so all could understand how the boats work and the types of wakes they generate. Even four hundred feet away from shore, the wakes made a powerful impact on land. 


The group will be meeting one more time at the end of October. It’s not clear how much consensus we’ll be able to find, but to me it’s clear that we can have it all on Maine’s lakes. There’s plenty of room to wake surf where risks to water quality, shoreline integrity, property, and safety can be minimized. Let’s hope that’s what the legislature hears from the stakeholder group in January!

Webinars for Lake Advocates

Autumn Leaves from umaine.edu

The Mitchell Center for Sustainability at the University of Maine is hosting two talks of interest to our readers. 


‘Productive Disagreement’ at the Lake: The Role of Deliberation in Lake Associations 

Katie Swacha and Elizabeth Payne, UMaine 

October 16 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm 

The talk can be attended via Zoom (register here) or in-person at 107 Norman Smith Hall, UMaine. 


Although the phrase “upta camp” might elicit memories of carefree fishing, swimming, hiking, and boating for many people in Maine, conserving the waterways where those activities take place can feel anything but carefree. Disagreements between waterfront property owners and other stakeholders concerning exactly what “conservation” means and how to achieve it can frustrate everyone involved. At the same time, such local-level deliberations, which often take place informally between neighbors or at lake association meetings, are exactly where important conservation work does and can occur. In this talk, Katie and Elizabeth share theoretical concepts about democratic deliberation, paired with personal experience applying those concepts at a local lake association to offer strategies for productively negotiating differences, reaching agreements, and taking action. We will also discuss the role that students can play in this process. 

Navigating Water Quality: Understanding the Impact and Perceptions of Boat-Generated Waves on an Alum Treated Lake in Maine 


Alison Bates and Alejandra Ortiz, Colby College 

November 13 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm 

The talk can be attended via Zoom (register here) or in-person at 107 Norman Smith Hall, UMaine. 


The use of alum treatments to bind phosphorus to control algal blooms has been expanding to larger lakes, where there is no historical precedent for success. These larger lakes can have larger wind-created waves that are more energetic, potentially moving more sediment in the lake. A research team led by Ortiz and Bates is studying East Pond to understand whether boat created waves or wind created waves are decreasing the efficacy of the alum treatment on the lake bed. 


Using a combination of field observations and numerical modeling, the team is assessing how boat waves influence water quality and sediment movement. Additionally, they are exploring the perceptions and attitudes of local stakeholders towards these wave impacts and boating management practices. By shedding light on the ecological and community dimensions of boat-generated waves, the team seeks to contribute valuable insights to lake management and sustainability efforts in the region.

Sponsor Spotlight:

Woodward & Curran Foundation

We were pleased to receive a grant from the Woodard & Curran Foundation’s Giving While Living grant program in 2023.

Maine Lakes was nominated by Julian Marks of the Portland office of Woodard & Curran. Grant winners were chosen among 43 nominees by Woodard & Curran employees. Maine Lakes is grateful to be one of 10 winning organizations and used the funds in the summer of 2023 to support programs including our Healthy Beaches and LakeSmart programs.

Thank you to Woodard & Curran employees for selecting Maine Lakes once again and thank you to the Foundation for the amazing work you do supporting so many worthy environmental organizations! 

Maine Lake Talk on Slack:

Join a Brainstorming Session on November 8th

Slack by Caya Magazin

On Wednesday, November 8th at noon we’ll be hosting a Slack Brainstorming Session focused on how we can make our Slack channel, Maine Lake Talk, more useful to all of you. Whether you are a new user, a long-time user, or have been wanting to try Slack, we would love to have you join this friendly discussion to help us shape the future of the Slack channel. Please register here, and we hope to see you there! Read on for more information about what Slack is and how to join. 


Maine Lake Talk is a private group on the social media app Slack that is focused on timely discussions of lake topics. Did you see something interesting on your lake? A successful loon pair? An algae that you can’t identify? A plant you suspect might be an invasive? Maine Lake Talk is a great place to go to ask questions of your fellow lake enthusiasts. Maine Lake Talk membership is slowly growing, and is getting close to the number of people we need to make it a truly useful tool. To learn more, click here. You can join by agreeing to the Community Agreements and answering a few short questions that help assure the app that you are a real person in the lakes community. 


You can watch a webinar about how to use Slack here or read through our “Slack How To” which has additional links to resources to help you get started. 

LakeSmart Interactive Map

Check out this interactive map of active LakeSmart lakes in Maine!

There are 73 lakes active within the program, meaning that they have completed at least one evaluation within the last three years. We had nine new lakes sponsoring the LakeSmart program this year. Several of these new lakes are re-launching LakeSmart programs, having been involved when the program was administered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Click on a red location symbol for active lakes on the map to see the number of LakeSmart evaluations completed in each of the last three years (updated as of 9/5/23).

And now is a great time to talk to the staff at Maine Lakes about a LakeSmart program for your lake in 2024. Email program manager Andrea Stevens at astevens@lakes.me to find out more and to get on the list for LakeSmart trainings next spring. We’d love to have your lake join the program!

Let Your Leaves Lie

Fall Leaves from Wikicommons

Every once in awhile, inaction is the best action.

The sugar maples are just turning a fiery red this week, and the Ash has already dropped

its purplish-yellow leaves. Instead of dreading the annual leaf-raking duties that leave my hands sore with fresh blisters, I’m enjoying the crunch under my feet because this year, I’ve chosen inaction. It’s not often that the easiest (or maybe laziest) choice is also the most beneficial to the environment. Leaving leaves and pine needles on the ground slowly builds up a layer of duff which reduces erosion by preventing rainfall from washing away bare soil. When leaves decompose in place, they provide essential nutrients to the vegetation and critters below, whether that be a grass lawn, soil microbes, forest floor, or native plant buffer. You can speed up this decomposition process by mulching the leaves with a mower. If you want to go above and beyond, relocate leaves that land on impervious surfaces, such as your driveway or dock, onto your lawn or vegetative buffer. Help your yard thrive by leaving the leaves this fall!

Healthy Beaches Wrap Up

Margo Kenyon ‘25, environmental policy and government double major at Colby College

Over the past summer I had the great pleasure of working for Maine Lakes researching the potential for a freshwater beach bacteria monitoring program in collaboration with Lake Stewards of Maine (LSM) and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). My research consisted of working closely with lake associations and municipalities across the state, gathering information regarding public freshwater swimming locations, current water monitoring activities, additional local contacts, and suggestions for the future of this potential program. I organized all this information into a freshwater beach database of swimming locations across the state. I also created a database of potential labs that would be capable of running future samples.

A large share of the data gathered was collected via a freshwater beach survey I created, which was distributed at the 2023 Joint Maine Lakes Conference and via ML and LSM newsletters. Over the summer I was also able to accompany pre-existing bacterial monitoring programs within the state of Maine to gain insight about training volunteers, effective citizen science, and data collection. In June I accompanied Meagan Sims from the coastal Maine Healthy Beaches program (MHB), which I envision this program could be closely modeled after, to observe volunteer training in Wells. Meagan also provided suggestions to address the environmental justice component of my research, which consisted of researching the potential use of the EPA’s Climate & Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) for this potential program.

In July I also attended an LSM water quality training on Lake Auburn with Tristan Taber, allowing me to spread the word to trainees about the potential program and observe how this program gathered data in comparison to MHB. Finally, I accompanied Anthony DeVecchis of Portland Water District for sample collection on Sebago Lake, to observe firsthand how a freshwater beach bacteria monitoring program works.

Having the opportunity to work closely with each of these programs helped to paint a picture of areas for improvement in future programs, whilst also highlighting the strengths of the various existing strategies of implementation. Currently, as I have returned to school, I am continuing this work part-time to help construct a report on survey findings and the information that was collected this summer. It is my hope that this research will be a useful tool towards achieving a statewide freshwater beach bacteria monitoring program, and can provide useful suggestions for future programs and pilot studies. I would like to thank Susan Gallo and everyone I worked with along the way for their thoughtful guidance and suggestions. This opportunity provided me with valuable experiences working with municipalities, and provided me with a newfound consciousness of all of the considerations that must go into shaping effective environmental policy.

Cyanobacteria Testing Opportunity

Algae Bloom by Lake Stewards of Maine

Shared from the Lake Stewards of Maine weekly e-news 


As many of you may be aware, cyanobacteria and the toxins they can produce have been the topic of much discussion and concern in recent years. This winter, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Bigelow Labs are partnering to run cyanotoxin tests focusing on the toxins for which other rapid test methods are not available. This team is looking for samples from lakes with suspected cyanobacterial blooms (where there have been significant decrease in transparency) or scums (aggregations of cyanobacteria). The steps to follow are below. 


1. If you suspect a possible cyanobacterial bloom or scum, send a picture and/or description along with location to Tristan at Lake Stewards of Maine. Since this is not a general lake water test, but a test specifically aimed to identify certain bacteria and the toxins they create, confirmation from Tristan of the likelihood of cyanobacteria is required. 


2. Pick up a collection bottle at one of the following hubs. Please contact hubs prior to driving in to pick up bottles to ensure they are open and have bottles. 

  • Augusta area: Maine DEP, 7 Chimney Loop (AMHI), Augusta, Linda Bacon, 207-649-4238 
  • Bangor area: Penobscot County Soil & Water Conservation District, 1423 Broadway, Suite 2, Bangor; 207-947-6622 Ext. 3 
  • Belgrade area: 7 Lakes Alliance, 137 Main Street, Belgrade Lakes, Danielle Wain, 207-205-8341 
  • Bridgton area: LEA Maine Lake Science Center, 51 Willett Road, Bridgton, Ben Peierls, 207-647-3318 
  • Damariscotta area: Midcoast Conservancy, 290 US-1, Edgecomb, Patricia Nease, 734-276-0454 
  • Lewiston-Auburn area: Lake Stewards of Maine, 24 Maple Hill Road, Auburn; 207-783-7733 
  • Portland area: Maine DEP, 312 Canco Rd., Portland, Meagan Sims, 207-530-2518 
  • Presque Isle area: Maine DEP, 1235 Central Drive, Presque Isle, Kirsten Thompson, kirsten.m.thompson@maine.gov, 207-530-3960  


3. Fill the bottle 3/4 full, capturing water from the worst condition of the bloom possible. Wash your hands after sampling! Write the date, location, and your name on the bottle, freeze it, and return it to a hub prior to November 15th.  


4. After collection, add collection information to this spreadsheet. We are only processing one sample per lake, so please coordinate with others on your lake. Collect on the worst water quality day as judged by a metric of your choosing (e.g. Secchi, observed scums, water temperature). To avoid duplicate sampling, please enter your name and lake on the spreadsheet as soon as you have a plan for collection to make sure that no one else collects a sample from your lake.  


If you are interested in participating but unable to reach a hub, or if you have any questions or need assistance with filling out the form, please contact Tristan at LSM office or Robin Sleith at Bigelow Labs.


Thank you for helping us understand a little better what is happening on Maine's fantastic lakes. 



The Maine Cyanobacteria Group 


The Maine Cyanobacteria Group was formed in 2022 as a forum to discuss cyano issues statewide, share lessons learned, and coordinate sharing of supplies. If you are interested in joining the group, we hold monthly meetings and are open to all with an interest in cyanobacteria. Please email Patricia to be added to the email list. 

Look for our next newsletter in November!

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

Thank you for your support!