The Myth of Environmental Protection

by Tom Gordon

In 1970, there was no DEP, no shoreland zoning, and the Great Ponds Act was generally ignored as people dumped sand in their lakes to create beaches that could not last. Municipal sewage and industrial wastes were pouring into our rivers, streams, and lakes.

Times have changed! For 45 years, as COLA and now the Maine Lakes Society, we have advocated for strong but sensible regulations to protect the water quality and beauty of our lakes. Lakeshore property owners have accepted more stringent land use regulations because we know our lakes are fragile and our land use activities can impact the future of the waters we love. We accept regulation “for the sake of our lakes.” Continue reading

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Lakes Face Unprecedented Challenges

Maine’s freshwater lakes are under serious threat. A 2012 University of Maine study shows the clarity of many Maine lakes has declined as much as 20% since 1995. New evidence from Europe shows climate change is accelerating declines in water quality there.

If we do nothing, Maine’s lakes, long a precious asset to residents and those who visit Maine to enjoy them, could become not only a vanished treasure, but a costly liability. But we can do something to avert lake declines. LakeSmart is Maine Lakes’ answer to the freshwater challenge.

But we can do something! To learn more about Lake Smart, click here.  To support LakeSmart with your dollars by donating to the Maine Lakes Society, click here.

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Stephanie’s Sense of Place

Like many of us, Stephanie and Jim Turner realized a cherished dream the day they bought a lakeside place in Maineand named it “Our Song.”  Childhood summers spent with her grandparents near a small Maine pond left Stephanie with tantalizing memories of walking with them to the lake, catching glimpses of the beckoning water through the trees ahead, listening to birdsongs her grandmother repeated as they made their way along a dusty road and ecstatically reached the shore at last. Continue reading

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Climate Warming and Lake Eutrophication

LISA BORRE is a lake conservationist and writer who contributes the National Geographic‘s “Water Currents” blog. By permission we quote from work of hers that appeared in that blog: Climate Change Already Having Profound Impacts on Lakes in Europe and Warming Lakes: Barometers of Climate Change?

Global assessment shows 95% of lakes are warming

In 2010, National Geographic News reported on the results of the first comprehensive global study of lake temperature trends. The study — conducted by researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California using satellite data — found that in the last 25 years, the world’s largest lakes have been steadily warming, some by as much as 4°F (2.2°C). In some cases, the trend is twice as fast as the air temperature trend over the same period. Continue reading

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Maggie Shannon of Maine Lakes Society Testifies in favor of LD 1040: An Act to Enhance Funding Opportunities for Youth Conservation Corps

Good afternoon, Senator Saviello, Representative Welsh, and Distinguished Members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.  Continue reading

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Maggie Shannon for Maine Lakes Society testifies in favor of LD 839: An Act to Increase Conservation District Funding

Testimony of Maggie Shannon for Maine Lakes Society in favor of LD 839:  An Act to Increase Conservation District Funding

Good afternoon, Senator Edgecomb, Representative Hickman, and Distinguished Members of the Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee.  My name is Maggie Shannon; I live in Rome, and I am the Executive Director of the Maine Lakes Society and Coordinator of the LakeSmart Homeowner and Education Program.  Continue reading

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Maine Lakes could really use your help next Wednesday to pass this bill. Your grandchildren will thank you for it.

LD 40 Bans Fertilizer Next to Lakes

Mary Kretchmer, 8, along with her Dad, did an experiment with some water from the lake they monitor in New Hampshire. They added 1 teaspoon of 36/6/6/ fertilizer to one jar of Lake Wentworth water, none to another, put the 2 jars on a windowsill, stirred daily, and waited four weeks to see what would happen.

The two jars show Mary Kretchmer’s results.pond water experimentalger bloom in lake

The same thing could happen to waters here in Maine if we don’t take care of them.

Naturally forested lake shorelands have kept Maine’s lake water quality high until recent years.  Today’s population pressures, accelerated by longer growing seasons and intense, more frequent rain events, threaten to affect our pristine waters in the ways shown at left.  A recent satellite study of Maine lakes bore this out when it showed that many Maine lakes lost as much as 20% of their clarity between 1990 and 1995.

Unless we work together to shield our lakes from pollutants, water quality will decline. Continue reading

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Every Day is Earth Day

From Tom Gordon, Executive Director at Maine Association of Conservations Districts and a member of the board of the Maine Lakes Society. 

Forty five years ago today, I was co-chair400px-NASA-Apollo8-Dec24-Earthrise of the Colby Environmental Council, putting on teach-ins and outdoor activities for the very first Earth Day. We finished the day with a concert by Gordon Bok and I sat with the VP of Scott Paper Company – somewhat uncomfortable since Scott was behind the Kennebec River log drives which I had been researching and opposing. A few years later, the log drives were gone, Scott had built a new state-of-the-art plant, and the public had access to the Kennebec again.

Science, regulation, education, sociology and spirituality have all been part of the mix of trying to make incremental change in the way we treat our world. Today, I want to make soil conservation mean something more than an apology for big agribusiness. The mantra of “we must feed 9 billion people by 2050″ is false. We need to teach individuals and communities to sustainably feed themselves, locally and regionally, to be effective and efficient with their land use, and to not rely on the chemical and genetic tricks of big business. Soil has value, water has value, and these precious resources must be sustained and protected, and not wasted for short-term profit.

Today is Earth Day. But as we said 45 years ago, “every day is Earth Day.” Every day, we have the opportunity to think beyond our selves and make a difference in the world.The exercise of connecting with our environment is so sublime and complex that we must keep practicing it forever.

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Talking Points for LD 40 and LD 713

Maine lakes are a resource of inestimable value: Maine’s great ponds produce $3.5 billion in spending every year; supply drinking water to half our population; provide employment for over 52,000 Mainers, pay for essential municipal services through property tax revenues, and make Maine’s unique way of life possible.

Maine lakes are fragile: a recent satellite survey showed many Maine lakes lost as much as 20% of their clarity between 1995 and 2010; 26% of Maine’s great ponds rich enough in nutrients to support significant algal blooms; 268 of our great ponds are on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Lakes at Risk list, meaning that in a short time they may fail to provide expected recreation, aquatic habitat, and safety for human use unless we care for them better. Continue reading

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