JEFFERSON, Maine — A typical Sunday shift at the boat launch took an interesting turn for Amanda Moeser, a Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association employee and courtesy boat inspector at the Route 213-Bunker Hill Road boat launch in Jefferson.
While conducting a routine inspection of watercraft entering the lake on Aug. 14, she observed several suspicious plants on personal watercraft arriving from New York. Moeser had attended courses in invasive plant identification taught by the Maine Volunteer Lakes Monitoring Program and the association. She immediately identified the plant as a milfoil species. It later was identified as Eurasian water-milfoil, an aggressive invasive plant that grows in dense mats and impairs recreational activities, degrades water quality, displaces native plants and animals, and is virtually impossible to eradicate.
The personal watercraft arrived from Conesus Lake, a 3,420-acre lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Conesus Lake has a large and well-documented infestation of Eurasian water-milfoil. Since 2000, Conesus Lake has been on the New York Department of Environmental Protection’s Priority Waterbodies List, meaning it is facing an onslaught of environmental problems. The lake was listed because of the presence of multiple invasive species, impaired boating and swimming opportunities, deteriorating aesthetics, stressed and declining populations of native fish and vulnerability to its public water supply.
“It’s alarming that milfoil coming from Conesus Lake came so close to our lake. It only takes a small fragment of milfoil to start a new infestation, and these Jet Skis had several whole plants on them,” said Moeser, who, along with a team of dedicated volunteers, checks boats and trailers for invasive species.
In addition to the Courtesy Boat Inspection program, DLWA runs the Invasive Plant Patrol program, initiated in 2010 after another invasive plant, hydrilla, was discovered in the lake.
DLWA volunteers survey the lake for hydrilla and other invasive plants and animals, an effort that will lead to the early detection of invasive aquatic species.
“This incident serves as a reminder that we are always vulnerable to the introduction of new invasive plant and animal species,” said association stewardship coordinator Julia McLeod. “We want to keep our lake healthy, but we need everyone to do their part — by volunteering as a courtesy boat inspector or invasive plant patroller, checking your boat when entering and leaving the lake, or simply knowing what these plants look like and reporting suspicious plants.”
Association volunteers and staff are at the Bunker Hill Road launch every weekend from May to September.
To join the effort to protect Damariscotta Lake, contact the asociation at 549-3836 or email Julia@dlwa.org. For more information, visit http://www.dlwa.org.