Franklin Countys First News

Rangeley Plantation voters approve lake monitoring program support

RANGELEY PLANTATION - Voters at their March 14 annual town meeting, approved spending $4,250 to help support the boat monitoring protection program against invasive aquatic plants and for continued water quality monitoring.

To prevent the spread of Hydrilla (shown here pulled from the water in Lake Manitou, Indiana) to other lakes in Indiana, all the public launches on Lake Manitou were cabled and locked for a period of two years while toxic herbicides were applied to kill the invasive plant.

Rebecca Kurtz, director of the Headwaters Lake Protection program coordinated by Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, told residents of how taxpayers in Moultonborough, N.H. raised $200,000 in 2009 to fight existing infestations on Winnipesaukee Lake and that they will need to raise an additional $800,000 in the next four years. "Such treatment costs are typical," she said.

Algae blooms and plant infestations also have shown to have a detrimental impact on property values, which in some instances have shown to decline by as much as 40 percent, Kurtz said. "Prevention costs one-tenth to one-one-hundredth as much as treatment and RLHT’s program is all about prevention."

The Plantation’s $4,250 contribution will help create five part-time jobs for local people and will help train over 35 volunteers to help protect the lakes as part of the boat monitoring program.

For the past eight years, RLHT’s boat monitors have inspected more than 12,000 boats and educated an estimated 40,000 visitors on protecting area lakes from invasive species of aquatic plants. On three occasions, volunteers spotted pieces of the invasive plants and were able to stop their introduction into the lake. The most recent interception occurred last June on Mooselookmeguntic Lake when a boat from heavily infested Lake Cochituate arrived at the launch. Two volunteers, Pam and Don Montevani, found a plant fragment of Curly Leaf Pond near the boat’s bilge area and removed it before it had to change to infest the lake.

Kurtz said taxpayer funds have also been used to support one of "the most comprehensive water quality monitoring programs in the state." Staffed by a part-time employee and more than 13 volunteers, this part of RLHT’s program has collected years of data regarding water clarity, dissolved oxygen, phosphorus concentration, and temperature that are used to detect changes in water quality.

"Rangeley’s lakes and ponds are the region’s most treasured and valuable assets and they support 80 percent of the local jobs and the local economy. They also support the fish and wildlife that draw visitors from around the world," she said.

Anyone wishing to help out as a volunteer or would like information regarding free training workshops, please contact Kurtz at 864-7311, ext 5 or rkurtz@rlht.org.

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