With the discovery of variable-leaf water-milfoil in Big Lake during the fall of 2019, it became clear that organizations in the Downeast Lakes region needed to spring into action. The quick-spreading nature of this invasive species has created the need for an immediate and thorough response.
Downeast Lakes Land Trust is pleased to announce the formation of the Big Lake Milfoil Coalition, organized to fight against the spread of this new arrival to the Downeast Lakes region. DLLT will be organizing this coalition and acting as the fiscal agent for all project funding contributions. Joining DLLT in this ambitious partnership are Lake Stewards of Maine, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Grand Lake Stream Guides Association, Woodland Pulp, LLC, and Big Lake Campmeeting Association.
“The problem of invasive milfoil is too big and too important for any one organization to tackle alone,” said DLLT President David Montague, “which is why it’s so important for all of us to work together on this issue. With support from Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, this local initiative is critical for protecting the lakes and the vitally important fishery.”
During the fall of 2020, volunteers from the Lake Stewards of Maine and the Maine DEP undertook an extensive survey effort, and DEP contracted with New England Milfoil, a private company specializing in milfoil removal, to remove infestation sites using scuba divers and suction devices that capture plant particles that could otherwise drift away and take root in other parts of the lake. While these measures showed some success in milfoil removal, we are still in the very early stages of the fight against this invasive plant. The formation of this coalition will allow DLLT and partner organizations to spread the workload more efficiently, and collectively improve the fight against milfoil infestation.
In an effort to contain the spread, DLLT interns and volunteers will be performing courtesy boat inspections this summer at various launches on Big Lake. Please do your part, and help the coalition stop the spread of milfoil by checking your boat for plant materials before transporting, and by cleaning, draining, and drying all surfaces and compartments before launching on a new waterbody. The vigilance of local residents, boaters, and recreationists in the area is paramount to the future success of these collaborative efforts.
DLLT is busy fundraising to help with the costs of this removal effort. If you wish to support the efforts of this coalition, please visit www.downeastlakes.org/donate and write “milfoil” on your donation note. We hope that by catching this unfortunate infestation early and stamping it out, we will be able to protect Big Lake and the many beautiful lakes in the Downeast Lakes region for future generations.