By Joanna Tarrazi
Bangor Daily News post
A new citizen-based water quality monitoring program for the lakes and ponds of the Moosehead region will start on Friday, June 26th with a comprehensive volunteer training workshop. The workshop will take place from 9:00AM to 1:30PM at the Beaver Cove Marina on Moosehead Lake. Workshop participants will learn everything they need to know to become fully certified water quality monitors, and to collect important scientific information on the health of the lakes and ponds of the Moosehead region. Monitors must have access to a boat and anchor and be willing to take a reading every two weeks during the open water season. Training, equipment and technical support will be provided free of charge by the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program (VLMP).
Why measuring water clarity is important . . .
Lake systems are complex. Affected by such natural variables as the weather daily, seasonally, and annually, they are changing all the time. Water clarity data (information, carefully collected at regular intervals over time) provides a way to sift through these normal changes to detect actual water quality trends, to track these trends over time, and to respond to negative trends in a timely manner. If actions are needed to mitigate water quality problems, this data provides an essential tool for ensuring the best outcomes.
Why the Moosehead Region? Why now?
Covering over 75,000 acres and measuring over 280 miles around its outer shore, Moosehead Lake is Maine’s largest lake. It is also one of Maine’s deepest lakes with a mean depth of 55 feet and a maximum depth of 246 feet. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has ranked the water quality of Moosehead Lake as “above average.” The exceptional water quality and vast deep water habitat support a healthy cold water fishery. Grand as it is, Moosehead Lake is but one of many exceptional lakes in the region. Together these lakes form one of the most pristine, ecologically rich, highly-valued regions in the State.
But there is a problem. Threats to the pristine status of lakes of the Moosehead region are growing with increased watershed and shoreline development and the movement of invasive species. Most other lake-rich regions of the State have active lake monitoring programs in place to ensure the timely detection of harmful trends. But citizen lake monitoring is sparse to none-existent in the Moosehead Region. We are looking for interested citizens to help us address this critical gap.
The Maine VLMP became directly involved in the Moosehead region in 2008 when they assembled a team of trained citizen lake scientists to carry our an ambitious multi-year project to survey the entire shoreline of Moosehead Lake in search of invasive aquatic species such as Eurasian milfoil and hydrilla. The project was completed in 2013. No invasive species were detected and over 100 native plant species were documented. To see a short documentary on this first-of-its kind project, please visit the VLMP’s YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiXPQRthaS4
Drawing upon forty-four years of experience in supporting citizen lake science in Maine, VLMP staff is now working with a steering committee comprised of local stakeholders to develop a locally-sustainable citizen-based monitoring program in the Moosehead region. Kay York Johnson, President of the Friends of Wilson Pond, and a member of the steering committee, noted that, “gaining an understanding of factors that are affecting our water quality is an important part of understanding our larger ecosystem and watershed. We hope that local citizens and also summer residents will join us in this important new program to detect threats to water quality in the Moosehead Region. This program is important to not only keep our region’s water bodies pristine, but also to preserve our region’s biological diversity and ecological integrity.”
One of the committee’s key objectives for 2015 is to initiate a citizen-based water quality monitoring program for the lakes and pond of the Moosehead Region. Given its enormous size and complex bathymetry, Moosehead Lake poses a special challenge with respect to water quality monitoring. Most lakes in Maine have one to three sampling stations (sampling stations generally correspond to the deepest spots in the lake). The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has identified 22 discrete “deep-hole” sampling stations on Moosehead Lake. The objective for 2015 is to train volunteers and local resource agency staff to monitor 8-10 of the 22 Moosehead sampling stations and at least two other unmonitored lakes in the region. In subsequent years the committee will work to activate citizen lake monitors to collect data at all 22 stations, and to establish a monitoring program for all other lakes in the region as well.
In addition to Moosehead Lake, the committee is seeking volunteers to take Secchi readings on the following waterbodies: Baker Pond, Big Duck Pond, Big Indian Pond, Brassua Lake, Burnham Pond, First Roach Pond, Indian Pond, Little Brassua Lake, Little Duck Pond, Little Lobster Lake, Little Spencer Pond, Lobster Lake, Long Pond, Mountain View Pond, Mud Pond, Rum Pond, Seboomook Lake, Socatean Pond, Spencer Pond, Tom Young Pond, and Tomhegan Pond.
Please contact the Maine VLMP for more information about volunteering to take Secchi readings on any of the above-named water bodies or to learn more about the Moosehead Lake Water Quality Monitoring Workshop. Pre-registration is required for the workshop, and refreshments will be provided. The Maine VLMP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207) 783-7733. You may also visit the VLMP website at www.mainevlmp.org.
About the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program (VLMP): The Maine VLMP is the oldest, and one of the largest, citizen-based lake monitoring programs in the nation. The organization works to protect Maine lakes through widespread citizen participation in the gathering and dissemination of scientific information pertaining to lake health. The VLMP trains, certifies and provides technical support to hundreds of citizen-lake-scientists across the state who monitor a wide range of indicators of water quality, assess watershed health and function, and screen lakes for invasive aquatic plants and animals. The VLMP is comprised of more than 1200 certified monitors, keeping an eye on the health of roughly 450 Maine lakes. The VLMP has been cited nationally and internationally as an exemplary model for citizen lake science, and has received numerous awards over the years for their work. The work of the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program is funded in part through grants from the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Additional support for the workshops comes from foundation grants, private donations, and the generosity of local sponsors.