RLHT Conducts Courtesy Boat Inspections for 15th Season
Rangeley, ME - The Rangeley Lakes Region has some of the healthiest water bodies in Maine. The Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust hopes to keep it that way. Their Headwaters Lake Protection Program oversees water quality monitoring and invasive species on 16 waterbodies within the upper Androscoggin River Watershed which are most likely free of aquatic invasive plants.
This is the 15th year RLHT will be conducting courtesy boat inspections in the region as part of an educational program that engages the public by teaching them to inspect their boat and trailers to prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals. Each year the courtesy boat inspections are funded through voters in local municipalities, grants and donations.
Courtesy boat inspectors traditionally cover public boat launches on the larger bodies of water: Cupsuptic, Mooselookmeguntic, and Rangeley Lakes. “These lakes have the highest boat traffic and give us the greatest bang for our dollar,” stated Amanda Davis, of Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust.
“Over the last 14 seasons we have talked with over 18,000 boaters and visitors to our region,” stated Davis, “Inspectors are often the first people visitors interact with when visiting the Rangeley Lakes Region. They are a traveling Chamber of Commerce and the ‘front-line of defense’ for invasive plants entering the lakes we love.”
Invasive plants can be devastating on a waterbody and local economy. A tiny fragment or a single seed carried on a boat trailer or fishing gear can start an infestation. Invasive aquatic species are self-sustaining and can double or triple in size within a single year, often outcompeting and eliminating the beneficial native plants. They have no natural predators and left alone can fill in shorelines with mats of thick fronds, making lakes unsuitable for swimming or boating.
There are significant changes in habitat for native species, often causing the loss of wanted native plants and animals, a loss of property values, and reduction in recreational opportunities especially watercraft and fishing.
Rangeley's lakes and ponds are an extremely valuable economic resource as well as a stunning natural resource. They contribute to the enjoyment of many Maine residents, they help relive property tax burdens on local people in rural communities, and they support substantial economic activity. Protecting water quality should be a priority of everyone who cares about the Rangeley Lake Region.