The Final Stages of the Songo River Project
October 12, 2015 -
Naples –The Songo River has changed dramatically since LEA’s first season with the diver-assisted suction harvester, or DASH boat, nine years ago. Where a boater or diver would once see an impenetrable mat of variable-leaf milfoil they will find native aquatic grasses, elodea, varieties of pondweeds and spatterdock. Last season, LEA’s Milfoil Control Team laid bottom barriers over the last remaining patch of milfoil in the project area. While there will be sporadic regrowth to address over the next few seasons, a boater can now boat through the Songo Bayou, Songo River and Brandy Pond with little chance of seeing milfoil.
In light of this new reality, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Bureau of Parks and Lands, and LEA have decided to remove the milfoil signs and buoys marking the former patches in Songo River. The State will also remove the additional navigational channel markers that were placed to keep boaters away from the milfoil and our team.
With no milfoil to alert boaters about, the once useful markers became sign pollution dotting the undeveloped banks through the state park. Their removal signals the beginning of our end phase. Barriers and DASH harvesting have given way to ongoing surveys and hand removal of increasingly rare regrowth. Boaters carrying milfoil fragments from another infestation in Sebago Lake may spread milfoil back into the river, but our survey work should expose those new infestations in time for an effective rapid response.
With a broad area to cover and milfoil plants growing few and far between, identification skills and thorough plant removal are more important than ever. Thankfully, LEA has a veteran crew consisting of Program Coordinator Adam Perron, Crew Leader Christian Oren, and crew members Tyler Oren, Tommy Chagrasulis and Derek Douglass with a combined thirty years of milfoil management experience. The crew will be joined by former crew members and current office interns, Lucien Sulloway and Sullivan Tidd, on a weekly basis to help cover the secondary sites in the main river channel.
This season, the bulk of the day-to-day work is shaping up to be very different from what the crew has been accustomed to in the past. With no front line for this season’[s control effort, there is no single focal point leading into the summer. It will not be until late June when the milfoil reaches its summer growth that the worst places will become evident.
With less strategic planning required to manage the Songo River, LEA is expanding our role in the regional control effort. This summer, LEA will offer consultation to the Porter Conservation Commission in their work to begin a manual control program in the Ossipee River. Adam led the DASH portion of the state-wide Invasive Aquatic Plant Manual Control Training workshop coordinated by DEP and the Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program. The two day workshop is required for the divers of organizations who are awarded grant funding through the DEP cost share manual control grants. This is the second year LEA has participated in the workshop.
As the Songo River requires less and less management to keep the infestation under control, LEA will continue to work to keep infestations from spreading throughout our region and seek new opportunities to guide burgeoning control programs.
Adam Perron, LEA Lake News, Summer 2015
Lakes: Sebago Lake
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