SPRING GREETINGS from COLA's PRESIDENT
We'll be welcoming sunny spring and summer days with lake swims! Our Fortieth Annual Maine Lakes Conference, Saturday June 26, at Colby College will promote our theme, “A Delicate Balance: Sustaining MaineLakes”. Our Conference will launch a ground-breaking three-year cooperative project to demonstrate sustainability of lakes in the face of development pressures, focusing on the Belgrade Region as a case example for all our lakes. Partners are Colby College, Belgrade Regional Conservation Commission, University of Maine and COLA. Conference will also feature topics ranging from “Are Damselflies the Canaries of the Lakes” to “Spiritual Aspects of Environmental Stewardship”.
I wish to reemphasize COLA's Mission to protect the valued quality of our lakes. We build upon and serve Lake Associations and all the people of Maine to speak as the Statewide voice for Maine's lakes. Our lakes' high quality enhances property values and our recreational and aesthetic enjoyment, contributing to Maine's Quality of Place, emphasized as Maine's drawing card by the recent Brookings Institute report.
Protecting lake watersheds in their entirety is my major initiative this year. Health of our lakes requires extending nonpoint source prevention even beyond critical shoreland zones (featured in Maggie's LakeSmart initiative) to encompass headwaters tributaries, wetlands and interconnecting groundwater systems. Let's build partnerships with others involved in watershed protection, starting with Land Trusts and proceeding with Maine Rivers, Maine Audubon (wetlands & aquatic-related habitat), Maine Natural Resources Council, Maine Source Water Protection Program, Small Woodland Owners Association, groundwater protection interests -- to name a few. (Cf. Article on Land Trusts, p. ). We are exploring an exciting partnership with Maine Lakes Conservancy Institute (MLCI) to enhance pupil lake education.
Spread of milfoil cries for urgent prevention strategies. Milfoil's introduction and persistence in Salmon Lake, critical to the Belgrade Lakes chain, and now Darmiscotta Lake cry for bold thinking outside the box. Mounting milfoil crises challenge us to brainstorm options to check dissemination of invasive species – options including building support for quarantining infested lakes, boat inspections at launches and at the border (weight stations), and intensified education and publicity. (Cf. Public Health precedent for quarantines). As a starter, Maggie has been collaborating with diverse interest groups to propose Legislation requiring boat inspections at fishing derbys. Consequences of not acting would be disastrous to Maine's economy, recreation, ecosystems and property values.
[Note for next Newsletter: I heartily endorse the suggestion of one Lake Association President: Lake Associations lead with voluntary initiatives, such as quarantines on boating to, from and, indeed, within invested lakes.]
Lake Association & Land Trust Partnerships for LakeWatershed Protection
We encourage Lake Associations to form alliances with their local or regional Land Trusts toward permanent protection of lake watersheds and of lakes themselves. Land Trusts are nonprofit organizations chartered by the State to protect lands valued by the public for watershed protection, scenic values, recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, guiding development vs. sprawl, etc. Land Trusts may acquire land in fee simple or conservation easements. Conservation easements are tailored to acquire those rights, such subdivision, that would defeat public benefits; yet, at the same time, enable a landowner to enjoy all other uses of their land. Landowners donate conservation easements to assure their land and lake heritage will remain into the future. They may enjoy tax benefits.
Examples showing the benefits to lakes of Lake Association—Land Trust cooperation include the following: Lake Associations in the Belgrade Lakes Region joined with Land Trusts to form the Belgrade Regional Conservation Council, with Executive Director, Peter Kallin, our Board member. Members of the Five Kezars Lake Association negotiated a conservation easement with the Greater Lovell Land Trust to protect Back Pond watershed flowing into the Kezar River and Kezar Lake. Five Western Maine Land Trusts formed an Upland Headwaters Alliance to cooperate on regional projects and services. This has facilitated a Crooked River Initiative to promote conservation easements and other measures to protect Class AA Crooked River watershed of Lake Sebago, Greater Portland's water supply. Leading this initiative are Western Foothills and Loon Echo Land Trusts in cooperation with Portland Water District.