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150 volunteers to look for invasive plants in Damariscotta Lake

Jefferson -

DAMARISCOTTA – Those who care about Damariscotta Lake are paying attention. Since an invasive plant was found in the lake last fall, volunteers have come forward in droves to protect their lake. More than 150 people will be out on the lake this summer looking for Hydrilla along Damariscotta Lake’s 45 miles of shoreline. Prevention and early detection of this dangerous plant is the most effective way to avoid a serious infestation.

The lake-wide survey coordinated by the Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association (DLWA) will be completed between July and September. Teams of volunteers are assigned small sections of the shallow areas of the lake near their homes to patrol once a year. If you see people leaning over boats looking into black buckets or snorkeling in shallow areas, they might be surveying the lake. Please do not disturb labeled buoys placed to mark plants.

Hydrilla, which is known as the worst invasive aquatic plant in North America, was found last September in a small lagoon along the western side of the lake near the entrance to Great Bay. The plant infestation was found by Dick Butterfield, a local volunteer who had recently taken an invasive plant patroller course offered by the Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program. Butterfield is an example of how volunteers can truly make a difference in catching invasive plant infestations early.

Hydrilla poses a threat to the lake because of its ability to out compete native plants, tolerate a wide range of light and depth conditions and completely change the ecosystem. Like most invasive plants, Hydrilla can move from lake to lake by human activities. A one-inch fragment clinging to a trailer or boat can grow into an entire colony. Once it is established, Hydrilla can impede boat and recreational activities and lower property values. Boaters are urged to check their boats for plant fragments before they put in and after they take out of any water body.

Surveying the lake and controlling the infestation now can prevent a decrease in property values and money spent later to manage the plant. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is working to control the Hydrilla infestation with tarps, an herbicide and barriers between the lagoon and the rest of the lake. DLWA is coordinating the lake wide survey with volunteers and staff. DLWA also coordinates the Courtesy Boat Inspection program at two boat launches on the lake.

Volunteers are still welcome and needed to survey the lake and staff the boat launches. Basic survey training is available on August 19 from 6-8 p.m. at the DLWA office in Jefferson. A field methods workshop offered by the Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program will happen on August 14 from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., meeting at the DLWA office. This workshop provides hand-on instruction and practice in conducting an invasive plant survey. Please register in advance. Contact Julia Davis at 549-3836 or Julia@dlwa.org for more information.

More information about Hydrilla is available on the DLWA website at www.dlwa.org. Anyone who finds a suspicious plant should carefully snip off a piece, being careful to collect all stray fragments, and bring it to DLWA’s office at 38 Lake Farm Circle in Jefferson. Keep plant samples cool and wet. If it is not feasible to collect a sample, mark the plant with a buoy and call DLWA.

Founded in 1966, The Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association is committed to enhancing the quality of life in and around Damariscotta Lake, assuring enjoyment for all of its natural and human residents. Learn more at www.dlwa.org.

For More Information:

Contact Name: Julia Davis

Telephone Number: (207)549-3836

Website: http://www.dlwa.org

Email: Julia@dlwa.org