Thursday, April 17, 2014
  1. Form a steering committee: Identify several people interested in lake protection and invite them to a meeting to discuss forming a lake association.
  2. Define the Purpose of your Group and Frame it as a Mission Statement: Your Mission will guide all objectives, goals, and actions of your organization. Example: Crystal Lake Association protects the water quality of Crystal Lake through education, action and preservation. You may want to do a little research beforehand; call your county Soil and Water Conservation District and check COLA’s website
  3. Develop an Action Program. Brainstorm what you’d like to accomplish in 5 years, then choose several realistic Objectives from that list. For each one, create an action plan stating objective, assigning responsibility for that objective, and setting a timeline for accomplishment
  4. Develop a database of member names and contact information: Appoint one person to be responsible for maintaining an address list of present and potential members.
  5. Hold a Public Meeting: This is an organizing meeting where you will share your plans with other lake and watershed residents to enlist their support and membership. (It is often helpful at this stage to invite an outside spokesperson to talk about the role lake associations play in protecting water quality.) Share your mission, objectives and action plans. Invite discussion and seek agreement by a democratic process. Decide which actions the group will undertake. Enlist volunteers. Decide the date of your next meeting. Elect or agree upon the group of people who will carry out steps 6,7, and 8 before the next meeting occurs.
  6. Publish a Newsletter and Send out a Membership Request: Publish a Newsletter right away, even if it’s only one page. Announce the creation of the association and describe plans for the future. Include a request for residents and users to join and be sure to print a membership form readers can clip and mail back to you. A pre-printed return envelope, called a remit, can also be inserted to make responding easier.
  7. Write your Bylaws: For a sample By-laws template or advice on By-laws, write Maine COLA at or POB 426, Belgrade, ME 04917; or call 877-254-2511.
  8. Work the Action Plan for the Activity You Have Chosen: The key to sustainability is completing actions that support your mission. Your plan may be as simple as distributing educational information at a lakeside picnic, or as ambitious as doing a watershed survey.
  9. Hold your First Official Meeting: Ask members to approve By-laws, elect a Board, and accept the budget you propose for the coming year. Use the gathering to celebrate your lake, publicize your accomplishments and plans, have fun, and share lake stewardship information.
  10. Register as a Nonprofit Corporation with the Maine Secretary of State. This does not make your Association a nonprofit in the eyes of the IRS, but it does establish your corporate identity with the State of Maine. the simple procedure can be accomplished online or by mail. It provides only limited protection against liability for officers and directors of the corporation. (
  11. Market your Brand! Commit to vigorous communication and outreach. Publicize your accomplishments. Seek ways to celebrate your lake and build community around it as you
  12. Protect its Water Quality. Picnics, races, raffles, and kids activities build community/identity.



Learn More - Join Maine COLA Learn as much as you can about lakes, watersheds, water quality, and the programs and resources available to help you grow and succeed. Call COLA’s Hotline for information and advice: 877.254-2511 . Plan to attend COLA’s Annual Maine Lakes Conference every June and network with other lake leaders. Enjoy the journey!

2014 Legislation - We Need Your Help!!


Maine Lakes Society 

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