Franklin Countys First News

RLHT seeks volunteers for invasive plant watch

Rangeley Invasive Plant Patroller and Lake Leader, JoAnn Meisel, inspects an aquatic plant at South Bog.

RANGELEY - The Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust needs volunteers for their Headwaters Lake Protection Program. The program gives community members the opportunity to join other citizen scientists all over the state and nation who have made a commitment to monitor their preferred waterbody for clarity, total phosphorus, dissolved oxygen or invasive plants, and regularly record data.

“The time I spend patrolling is minimal compared to the contribution I feel I’ve given to the community. I have always loved Maine’s lakes but it wasn’t until I lived in Rangeley that I realized how important they are - especially in our community,” RLHT Program Manager Amanda Laliberte said.

Similar programs exist across the state, and are often organized through lake associations. Citizen scientists help expand water resource monitoring, decrease data gaps, and improve the overall understanding of Maine’s water quality. Collection, observation and reporting procedures are designed to be inexpensive, quick and easy to perform, and provide hands-on experience for volunteers. Training, materials and monitoring equipment are provided free of charge.

“Nearly every waterbody needs a few more plant patrollers and several ponds that need water quality monitors. So many of our volunteers have been at this for over a decade and are ready to pass on their skills and passion to the next generation. Until then, we are relying on our community to educate themselves on invasive plants, how to protect water quality and the clean, drain, dry campaign," Laliberte said.

Plant patrollers survey the shoreline for invasive plants. Their efforts ensure that if there was an infestation, a quick response would be available. In 2018 patrollers surveyed over 90 miles of shoreline but more eyes are needed on the water who know what to look for and who can help with shoreline gaps. With invasive plants, early detection is key in eradication.

Some ponds like Dodge, have slowly lost their team of patrollers over the years. Rangeley, Mooselookmeguntic and Cupsuptic Lakes are all in desperate need of more volunteers with less than half of their total shoreline surveyed each year.

“We prioritize the high traffic and disturbed areas when we survey, trying to get the most out of our time on the water but we need more eyes on the shoreline," she said.

To learn more about the plants or to volunteer, contact Janet Bissell, Volunteer Lake Leader for the region at janetbissell@yahoo.com or by calling RLHT at (207) 864-7311.

The Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust maintains traditional public access and uses of over 1,4000 acres of conservation land for recreation, education, and scientific study. They operate EcoVenture Youth Camp, Headwaters Lake Protection Program, and offer remote and traditional camping through Cupsuptic Lake Park & Campground. To learn more about RLHT or how to get involved, visit rlht.org.

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1 Responses »

  1. Sounds like a great job for our Senator Angus King.

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