As Susan MacKenzie wrote about in her recent post, on June 10, a group of NRCM Board members and staff joined Professor Whitney King of Colby College to learn about the waters of Great Pond in Belgrade. Whitney gave quite an eye-opening presentation as he shared some of the startling research data currently being collected on the health of the Belgrade Lakes.
Among the most surprising findings I heard about is that loss of oxygen in the deepest cold waters of the lakes is fast eliminating some of the fish that can only survive in cold water. This is a strong indicator of the health of the waters and has implications beyond fish. As a bird enthusiast, I wonder what kind of effect this will have on fish-eating birds like the Common Loon, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Belted Kingfisher, Osprey, eagles, and others for which the Belgrade Lakes provide a home.
Whitney described the Department of Environmental Protection’s LakeSmart program, which is a flagship program of the Maine Lakes Society. LakeSmart is designed to educate and encourage homeowners to become part of the community that actively recognizes and takes steps to minimize the declining health of many of Maine’s lakes and ponds. The LakeSmart Program offers suggestions for how to meet its four standards involving five areas:
• Road, Driveway and Parking Areas
• Structures and Septic System
• Yard, Recreation Areas, and Footpaths
• Shorefront and Beach
• Undeveloped Land
During our tour of the lake by pontoon boat, Whitney pointed out homes whose owners had built and landscaped their properties to meet LakeSmart environmental certification standards. These properties are not only helping protect the lake, but also are protecting the value of their property, based on LakeSmart data. But recognizing that there is no one cause or cure for a decline in the water quality of lakes and ponds, he emphasized the need for the larger community, homeowners, lake and pond users, conservation groups, and researchers to accelerate their efforts before we lose one of Maine’s greatest attributes—our fresh water resources.
Many thanks to NRCM staff and NRCM Board member, Susan MacKenzie for offering this informative and pleasurable outing.
Didi Manns, NRCM Board member