Courtesy Boat Inspector Program has Record Year

RLHT Intern Katherine Greenlaw waits to inspect boatsRANGELEY – Efforts to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic plants in the Rangeley Lakes Region intensified over the 2016 season as courtesy boat inspectors from the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust diligently checked boats for plant fragments when they entered and exited public boat launches.

Boat inspectors patrolled seven public boat launches in the area, focusing on those with higher traffic volume. Spanning from May to September, RLHT CBI’s inspected 709 boats.

In 2015, RLHT inspectors inspected approximately 650 boats, spending over 520 hours at public boat launches. This season, our inspectors inspected more boats and spent more hours at boat launches educating boaters and being ambassadors to our community. At the season’s close, 25 plant fragments were collected. Thankfully, none of the fragments were identified as invasive species.

RLHT’s Courtesy Boat Inspection program is partially funded by a Department of Environmental Protection grant. The grant provides the funding to hire three part-time inspectors to work at local public boat launches and helps to purchase necessary supplies. In addition, local municipalities provide annual support that is essential for this program.

Courtesy Boat Inspection programs around the country have three goals. One is to raise awareness of invasive aquatic plants and the ecological impact of an infestation. The second is to educate boaters on how to inspect their boats and gear to prevent the transporting of aquatic invaders. The long-term goal of any CBI program is to change the behavior of boaters to instinctively inspect their boats and trailers when entering and exiting a waterbody. During an inspection, Inspectors thoroughly check the boats and trailers for plant fragments and provide information to boaters. Most boaters are aware of invasive aquatic species, like Eurasian milfoil, and are happy to allow boat inspectors a few moments to check their boats and ask questions.

Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust is always looking for paid and volunteer inspectors to be on the front line of invasive aquatic plant prevention. If you are interested, please call Amanda Davis at 864-7311 ext 5 or adavis@rlht.org. Training for courtesy boat inspectors is as simple as job shadowing another courtesy boat inspector.

Remember, we all enjoy the pristine waters of our region and it only takes one plant fragment for an infestation to take hold. Once established, there is no native predator to slow its progress. One person can make a difference; please report any unusual plants growing in your waterbody to RLHT or the Maine Volunteering Lake Monitoring Program at VLMP.org.

Founded in 1991, the mission of the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust is to conserve and steward the natural and historical resources of the Rangeley Lakes Region for the benefit of the community and future generations.