Grassroots Effort Hits Rooted Plants on Sebago Cove
October 12, 2007 -
When Ed Lapham looked out onto beautiful Sebago Lake this summer he realized his cove just wasn't as beautiful as he remembered it. Two hundred acre Sebago Cove, the shallow inlet serving no fewer than five homeowners' associations, was becoming choked with obnoxious vanable leaf milfoil.
"I can remember when we used to be able to swim off our dock," he said, a bit wistfully, last week. "We just can't anymore. Too much milfoil."
Ed decided it was past time for direct local action. Intervene. Fight the rooted weed with a grassroots campaign. Get technical advice. Marshal resources. Break the task down to each individual taking care of his or her own piece of shoreline, if necessary. So, Save Sebago Cove was bom. It's had a tumultuous infancy, already. Ed got up some flyers and called some people. Word spread of the Sept. 1 organizational meeting. Ed didn't know how many people would express interest in helping. But 180 people showed up! More than two dozen others sent regrets and said they wanted to help. Still more have stepped forward since, to volunteer.
"A man I never met before came up to me just this morning and handed me a check," Ed Lapham said. "That's happened a lot to me lately." ; "We don't have an event or work session where I don't meet some new people," Ed said over the weekend. "This has been a great way for everyone around the cove to get out and mix with people from nearby associations."
Donations of time, material and cash have poured in, even though non-profit status is 'some time off yet'. It was as if people were waiting for the call to action. It's been quite a month. At the Sebago Pines common area Sunday, where he and a couple dozens volunteers were crafting bottom mats and renovating a pontoon boat, Ed said the group is so numerous and diverse, there is willing and able expertise that can be tapped for every task. Others are more than willing to leam how to tag a mat or trim a boat. One member has connections to a mill up north, where some matting material was just being thrown away in the trash. The stuff already has proven to be a promising milfoil-fighter. It's dark, but since it's porous, the matting sinks well and doesn't balloon up, like other materials that have been tried, making application easier.
Save Sebago Cove volunteers were attaching orange, numbered floats to sections of mat last weekend, and there will be some matting applied to the cove bottom before winter hits, Lapham said. Milfoil is devilishly difficult to eradicate, once it is in a lake. That is why the DEP and area groups have established boat wash stations, volunteer monitors and education programs all around the Lake Region, to keep milfoil out of places it hasn't infested yet. The weed can overcome native species, producing dense patches that drive out native plants and fish.
Infestations damage the quality of life for anyone on or near the water; this, in tum, can hurt livability and property values. The LEA has reported heightened success this past year in fighting a highly visible Songo River infestation. A matting program conducted by Casco lake associations on Lily Brook has worked well in knocking down that infestation.
Lake infestations can prove stubbom. The invasive plant has been in Sebago Lake for more than a decade - Ed Lapham insists he's seen it around for 30 years. "Four years ago, though, that's when I saw a distinct change."
Sebago Lake is so large, only a very small percentage of its total area is infested. That's because the plant can't grow in more than 15 feet of water. Unfortunately, since it flourishes in shallow areas, like Sebago Cove, which hardly drops off to more than eight or 10 feet deep, it is along the shorelines where people live and recreate most heavily that milfoil is most visible. It's all over Sebago Cove.
And milfoil is an issue along more than just this one Naples cove shoreline. Already, Save Sebago Cove has received tremendous help and support from John McPhedrin at the DEP, Peter Lowell at Lakes Environmental Association, Nate Whalen from Portland Water District, and a long list of the environmentallyconcerned - from the Maine Lakes Volunteer Program to Carol Ann Doucette. The old pontoon boat was a princely gift from Point Sebago, and it will be retrofitted as a milfoilfighter. Lapham said there will be divers in the cove hand-harvesting next year. The group is keeping track of the numbered mats. These mats will be GPS'd, and records will be shown where they were laid down and for how long.
The milfoil-fighters are providing materials so that individual homeowners might take care of their own infestations a sort of grassroots movement, squared. The cove will be mapped and boats directed away from the worst sections. Milfoil can be spread more easily when it is chopped up.
"One thing we've got going for us is people, lots of bodies. Our strength is going to be manpower," Ed Lapham said Sunday moming, as his friends and neighbors swarmed all over the old pontoon boat. "And our one goal is to save our cove."
SOURCE: BRIDGTON NEWS
Lakes: Sebago Lake
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