Maine Milfoil Consortium announces seven test lakes

The Maine Milfoil Consortium has announced the seven test lakes chosen for its fight against invasive milfoil in the coming year. The lakes include Sebago Lake and Little Sebago Lake in Cumberland County, Messalonskee Lake and Pleasant Pond in Kennebec County, Shagg Pond / Lake Christopher and Thompson Lake in Oxford County, and Lake Arrowhead in York County. The group recently received $500,000 from Congress to mitigate, study, and, hopefully, eradicate the invasive plant called variable leaf milfoil.

The seven lakes have variable leaf watermilfoil infestations to varying extents, according to Jacolyn Bailey, coordinator of the project and lead scientist. "Importantly for this program, they all have community backing and robust volunteer support for their mitigation efforts," she said. The seven were chosen through a competitive application process. The goal of the project is prevention, research, management, mitigation, and eradication by identifying, applying and sharing "best practices."

The consortium kicked off its efforts to help infested lakes by hosting a daylong workshop at Saint Joseph's College on Dec. 18. Thirty-three people from several lake associations shared key information and were introduced to the steps necessary to the development of management plans. The consortium is comprised of five members, including Saint Joseph's College, which is located on Sebago Lake, Little Sebago Lake Association, the Maine Congress of Lake Associations, the Lakes Environmental Association, and the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program. It aims to develop a proactive plan for containing the milfoil threat before it escalates to attack thousands of other lakes in the state, as it has in New Hampshire and Vermont.

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, according to the Maine Congress of Lake Associations.

December 22, 2009 Contact: Charmaine Daniels at (207) 893-7723 or e-mail cdaniels@sjcme.edu