August 20, 2008

Biologists, Group Seek Volunteers for Milfoil Survey of Lake, Pond


Biologists and lake-association members want volunteers to join their campaign to eradicate an aggressive invasive plant species from Salmon Lake.

They hope to survey both Salmon Lake and McGrath Pond within the next two weeks to determine the extent of the infestation of Eurasian water milfoil, a species discovered Aug. 1 in Salmon Lake.

At least 50 lake residents met Thursday evening to listen to the plan from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to control or eradicate milfoil from the lake.

Eurasian water milfoil is more aggressive than variable-leaf milfoil, another invasive variety found in Messalonskee Lake. But the infestation in Salmon Lake appears to be limited to a small cove, according to Roy Bouchard, a biologist from Maine's Department of Environmental Protection.

"It's not bad yet," he told residents and lake-association members who had gathered at Belgrade Center for All Seasons. "It's not yet a bad infestation."

The cove where the Eurasian water milfoil was discovered is located between a public boat ramp of Route 8 and an outlet stream leading to Great Pond. A dive team will remove the milfoil today.

Bouchard said the department plans to prohibit boating in the cove, with the exception of property owners who live in the cove itself. They will be allowed to travel by boat into and out of the cove, but must avoid a series of buoys that will be placed to mark areas of infestation.

The Belgrade Lakes, of which Salmon Lake is a part, include Great Pond, East Pond, North Pond, Messalonskee Lake, Long Pond and McGrath Pond.

Biologists are asking boat owners to remove any vegetation that sticks to their boats, paying special attention to the propeller areas, Bouchard said. Divers will remove milfoil by hand, and the department is asking volunteers, especially from among the pond residents, to help survey the area.

Volunteer surveyors should not attempt to pluck the milfoil themselves, Bouchard said. Rather, they should tag the plants and notify biologists of the location. The program will focus on Salmon Lake first, and then McGrath Pond.

Those interested in volunteering or would like more information about the milfoil program should call 287-3901.

Residents at Thursday's meeting made a few suggestions, such as drawing down the pond in an attempt to kill the milfoil. Bouchard said this would be counterproductive, since the point is to protect the native species' habitat. Drawing down the pond would kill most of the life in it, and wouldn't actually kill the milfoil unless the pond stayed dry for a year or so.

Originally published by By JOEL ELLIOTT Blethen Maine News Service.

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