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 you 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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Loons May Not Be Able To Survive Warmer Summers in Maine


A just-released report from the National Audubon Society, a 7-year study of climate and bird habitat plus decades of bird census data, claims half our bird species are at risk of extinction.

Loons are among them. Yes, the loon has adapted to changes in climate before. But it’s the pace of change that is the problemm. Animals do adapt to changes in habitat, but they do it slowly.

But now the changes are happening at a pace and scale we have never seen before. In loon-friendly climates like Minnesota, and likely Maine, loons’ summers will simply get unsurviably warm. Adaptation may not be possible.

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LakeSmart on MPBN!



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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.

Climate warming is having a “eutrophication-like” effect on lakes

Climate warming exacerbates lake eutrophication, a natural aging process whereby a lake becomes more enriched with nutrients and algal growth over time. This process, sometimes called “cultural” eutrophication because it is accelerated by nutrient pollution from humans (think Lake Erie), has become one of the greatest problems facing lakes throughout the world.

As water temperature increases, it has a similar effect on a lake as increasing nutrient loading, although the mechanisms are different. The natural mechanisms that control phytoplankton growth weaken in a warmer climate. The lake’s growing season is longer, the nutrients are more readily available, and predation on phytoplankton is lower. This leads to more algal growth.

Studies by Dr. Erik Jeppesen at Aarhus University in Denmark note that climate warming creates ideal conditions for algal blooms. Jeppesen’s research suggests that the more eutrophic a lake is, the more sensitive it is to warming water temperatures, especially in northern temperate lakes. Part of the reason is that eutrophic lakes tend to have large stores of nutrients in the sediments. With climate warming and less winter ice cover in recent decades, deep lakes remain stratified longer, with warmer water near the surface and cooler water at depth. Less mixing and a lack of oxygen in the deeper layers create ideal conditions for algae-loving nutrients, such as phosphorus, to be released from the sediments.


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Lake Smart News



LAKE SMART PROGRAM 2014 OFF TO A STRONG START News from Lake Smart Coordinator Maggie Shannon

  • Formal Trainings Scheduled: Four (4) LakeSmart training sessions are planned.  Each runs from 9 am to 3 pm, includes classroom and field training.

Mid-coast June 19, Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association, 38 Lake Farm Circle, Jefferson Central June 21, Maine Lakes Resource Center, 137 Main Street, Belgrade Lakes Southern July 9, Sebago Ecology Center, 1 White Rock Road, Standish Northern July 14, Birch Point Campground, 33 Birch Point Road, Island Falls

  • 2014 participants  in our program: about 34 lakes, up from 19 last year.  The 34 fall roughly into 3 groups: mature programs, intermediate, and new programs (see spreadsheet for details).
  • Colby research

Cathy Bevier, Russ Cole and Philip Nyhus want to conduct a study of prior LakeSmart Award and Commendation properties on Great and Long ponds where the program began in 2004.  (Over 200 names just since I started the volunteer screener program in 2009!)  They have 4 students available to assist in 1) assessing ‘what happens to the site after the ‘LakeSmart encounter,’  2) identifying which LakeSmart landscape elements are key to NPS prevention (Cathy calls it ‘site integrity’), 3) whether recipients desire further contact/mentoring from the sponsoring association, and 4) picking up info to improve what we do and how we do it. We’ve had one meeting and will soon have another to finish defining the content of the study.  I have asked for more emphasis on social, marketing, messaging aspects, but that may not be in the outcome. The Belgrade Lakes Association (most mature LakeSmart program in state) is collaborating; head of the Water Quality Committee – Pat Donahue and the BLA LakeSmart Coordinator – Logan Parker attended the meeting as did Kathi Wall for Maine Lakes Resource Center.

  • Collaboration with Maine Audubon ‘The Loon Project’

Susan Gallo, head of Maine Audubon’s loon project, and I met to discuss collaboration.  Outcomes: Susan will include info about LakeSmart when contacting the 1,000+ loon counters Maine Audubon will define standards for a superior, loon-friendly buffer.  If the MLS board approves, a small add on for the LakeSmart Award sign showing the Loon Project logo, can be attached to the sign to show super stewardship Susan and I will each include a slide about the other’s program in all our outreach talks We will cooperatively explore funding possibilities for a collaborative buffer building project good for Loons ‘N Lakes  (NB: Tom Gordon! SWCD plant sales might be one source of buffer strengthening) Susan will distribute LakeSmart brochures, I’ll distribute her Fish Lead Free stuff. We will publicize and provide display space for Susan’s ‘Fish Lead-Free’ campaign at the Conference. Maine Lakes Resource Center is now an Exchange site for tackle exchange. Sorry, I forgot to mention, that in addition to water quality, property value, etc., I am emphasizing habitat protection more and more in LakeSmart information. This is a win-win for LakeSmart and us – loons aren’t the only species people are passionate about.  Ask Peter about fish. This opens the door to fishermen’s groups.  An example of the new trend is the article I have provided for LakeSmart participants.  It is attached here as Loons in April (was also in our newsletter), and is part of the “Toolkit’ MLS provides to participating Lake groups.

  • LakeSmart Certification for  Maine Landscaping and Nursery Association (MELNA)

v  Bill LaFlamme has located the earlier list of nurseries and landscapers trained in LakeSmart principles and practices.  It’s now on our web site and attached here. v  Bill  and I will continue to  train new MELNA member starting in September

  • Good News bits and pieces

Echo Lake, new this year, started off with éclat: 4 Awards last Sunday. New property owner Stephanie Turner of Lermond Pond in Hope, started with a bare canvas (read dirt) around her rebuilt cottage.  The summer home is realization of her lifetime dream.  She lives in CA; she and I worked out plants and plantings; she bought a yardful of shrubs from a nursery unseen; took red-eye to Maine while husband drove the cabinets he built for their kitchen across country.  $6K plants delivered & planted, kitchen install completed, before Stephanie and husband, exhausted after 1 week of labor,  have returned to CA Heart-warming story – Stephanie used to visit her grandmother on Hobbs Pond and Stephanie is pretty telegenic. WABI is doing a video interview of Stephanie on August 4 or 11, depending on weather, asking why she did all this. We have Maine Lakes’  Board member Ed Graham to thank for this publicity. I guess you can tell I’m pretty excited by this project!   Maggie Shannon, LakeSmart Coordinator and Maine Lakes Acting Executive Director


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