Maine Milfoil Consortium receives funding

Congressional appropriation will support milfoil mitigation, education, and research efforts in Maine

The Maine Milfoil Consortium, a group that came together two years ago to address the threat of invasive aquatic plants in Maine lakes, has been awarded $500,000. The $500,000 federal appropriation through the Interior and Related Agencies bill just passed by Congress will be used to mitigate and control invasive milfoil in seven "test bed" lakes, which pose high risk of spread to other waters. The mission of the Consortium is to address the milfoil infestation threat through a focused program of prevention, research, management, mitigation, and eradication through the application of "best practices."

Currently, 26 Maine lakes are infested with variable leaf milfoil, the invasive aquatic plant that was introduced to the state by visiting boaters. Milfoil can destabilize the fundamental ecology of lakes vital to recreational boaters, homeowners, businesses and visitors to Maine. Maine's 6,000 lakes generate $3.5 billion in direct and indirect spending in Maine each year. The Maine Milfoil Consortium has a proactive plan to contain the milfoil threat before it escalates to attack the thousands of other lakes in the state, as it has in neighboring New Hampshire and Vermont.

A Request for Proposals will be sent to lake associations in Maine that represent lakes infested with variable leaf milfoil and that have robust citizen action to mitigate the spread of milfoil. In addition, matching funds will be raised for public education campaigns, scientific study of milfoil, and the dissemination of "best practices" to all lake associations statewide. The project will be coordinated by Jacolyn Bailey, a doctoral student working with Dr. Aram J.K. Calhoun at the University of Maine at Orono, one of a small group of scientists that is studying the invasive plant in Maine. Members of the Consortium are Saint Joseph's College, which is located on Sebago Lake, the Little Sebago Lake Association, the Maine Congress of Lakes Associations, the Lakes Environmental Association, and the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program.

Jacolyn Bailey, spokesperson for the Consortium, noted that the proposal for these funds was presented to and supported by Governor Baldacci, Senators Collins and Snowe, and Representatives Michaud and Pingree. Senator Susan Collins, who was the co-author of the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act and is a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, took the lead and was instrumental in supporting the Maine Milfoil Consortium to gain support for this work in Maine.

Dr. E. Joseph Lee, President of Saint Joseph's College, which is providing a home for the Consortium, said: "On behalf of the Maine Milfoil Consortium, of which Saint Joseph's is proud to be a part, I want to thank Governor Baldacci and all of our members of Congress for supporting this important project to contain, and if possible, eradicate milfoil in Maine's lakes. We have Senator Susan Collins and her peers to thank for bringing this significant funding into Maine to preserve what is one of our greatest treasures - our beautiful lakes."

"Maine's lakes and ponds are invaluable to our economy and environment," said Senator Collins. "It is critical that we work to stop the spread of invasive species in Maine and throughout the nation. I am proud of the dedicated efforts of the Maine Milfoil Consortium to stopping the spread of milfoil in Maine's lakes and ponds and I am proud to have successfully secured this important federal funding," she added.

November 20, 2009 Contact: Charmaine Daniels at (207) 893-7723 or e-mail cdaniels@sjcme.edu