Midcoast

Swan Lake boat, garden tour raises funds to keep water clear of invasives

Posted July 18, 2012, at 6:28 p.m.

SEARSPORT, Maine — As invasive, nonnative aquatic plants are found in more lakes in Maine, the Swan Lake Association is preparing for battle.

But the armada it plans to use in the struggle will be a flotilla of pontoon boats making genteel landings at area lakefront gardens.

Marty Stout, president of the association, and his wife Peggy, have helped organize the Aug. 4 event. The money raised through ticket sales for the garden tour will be used to expand an inspection and education effort at the lake’s boat launch area on Route 141 in Swanville.

Currently, the association pays someone to be on hand at the boat launch area from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to inspect boats and trailers for signs of invasive plants, such as milfoil. Those are the hours when most boat owners put in at the lake, the Stouts said.

“We have a very limited budget,” Marty Stout said, so the funds realized from the sale of the $15 tickets ($20 if purchased on the day of the event) will help pay for more inspections and more education outreach. Brochures produced by the association are distributed at the boat launch area which show how boat owners can inspect their own boats and trailers.

The state provides funds to match local money for the inspection and education effort, the Stouts said. Parts of Swan Lake lie in Searsport, Frankfort and Swanville, and the first two towns have provided funds for the effort this year, they said.

There are about 130 members of the association and about 350 buildings on the lake, including seasonal camps and year-round homes. Annual association dues are $20 per family, $10 per individual and $100 for a lifetime membership.

The Stouts, retired teachers who spend winters in their native Maryland, have spent summers at their lake house for the last 35 years. After learning about the devastating effect of invasive plants on lakes in New Hampshire, they became concerned about their beloved Swan Lake. When the plants were found on a lake in Damariscotta, the concern deepened.

“Now, it’s 40 miles away,” Peggy Stout said.

“That’s our biggest fear,” Marty Stout added.

Those attending will be picked up at the boat launch site between 10 am. and 2 p.m. in one of four pontoon boats and taken to the six lakefront homes whose gardens are featured in the tour. Volunteers will help participants get on and off the boats. Each participating garden is accessible with a pier or dock.

If rain or high winds make boating difficult, the event will be held on Sunday, Aug. 5. Those purchasing tickets who prefer to drive to visit the gardens can do so; road directions to the gardens are printed on the tickets.

Tickets are available at the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce, Swan Lake Grocery in Swanville, Tozier’s Market in Searsport and at the boat launch area. For information, see swanlakemaine.org.

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