This Week’s Lake Hero: Matt Scott
A true hero for Maine’s lakes for more than five decades, Matt Scott is considered the grandfather of lake protection in Maine. He is a walking encyclopedia about Maine’s lakes and ponds, and can recall the status of the fisheries, the history of water quality, and the on-going issues at almost any lake he’s visited. Matt first worked in fisheries for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in the early ’60s, but was recruited to the fledgling Department of Environmental Protection in 1970 as the first biologist in an agency of primarily engineers. He developed strong scientific programs to protect water quality, which led to a Maine Lakes Working Group, made up of state agencies promoting management of Maine’s lakes and ponds. In 1974, Matt formed the Maine Volunteer Lakes Monitoring Program (now Lake Stewards of Maine), leading to four decades of water quality data from hundreds of lakes. Under Matt’s leadership, staff at DEP developed a biological monitoring program assessing water quality and a nutrient management model regulating development, both among the best in the country. Matt officially retired from DEP in 1988 but since that time has remained active in many lake conservation organizations. And we aren’t the only ones who think Matt is a hero. Matt was recently recognized by the EPA with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Thank you, Matt, for serving on the Maine Lakes board and for all you do to champion Maine’s clean lakes. For more information on Matt’s recent award, visit https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/maine-citizens-and-organizations-recognized-epa-environmental-achievements.
To see an archive of all 2020 Lake Heroes, click here.
Announcing 2020 Stewardship and Lake Hero Awards
2020 is an exciting year for Maine Lakes Society! We are turning 50 and we have a lot to celebrate. In the year ahead, we’ll be recognizing 50 lake heroes…the people, organizations, and agencies that have been hard at work protecting Maine’s lakes. We’ll share one hero each week, and hope you find that their stories inspire you. And if you know of someone deserving a shout out as a lake hero, see below for instructions on how to make a nomination. We look forward to an exciting year ahead and celebrating our lake heroes with you!
Lake or Watershed Association of the Year Does your association go above and beyond with education, invasive species prevention or control, water quality protection? Click here to print a nomination form or here to fill out the form online.
Welcome Brooke Hafford MacDonald as our new LakeSmart Program Manager!
Maine Lakes Society (MLS) is pleased to announce that Brooke Hafford MacDonald of Levant has joined its staff as the LakeSmart Program Manager. LakeSmart is MLS’ signature program that works with lake associations and volunteer evaluators who meet with lakefront owners, and help identify ways they can reduce runoff and erosion on their property to protect lake water quality.
MacDonald recently completed an MS in Ecology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Maine where she studied lead poisoning in Maine’s Common Loons and attitudes about lead tackle. She has worked as a ranger in Acadia National Park, and as a field biologist with Biodiversity Research Institute.
“Brooke brings to MLS a deep knowledge of social science, and an understanding of the many factors that motivate, or limit, behavior change. Her energy and enthusiasm for working with people and volunteers, along with her background in ecology and conservation, make her an incredibly valuable asset for the LakeSmart program, and a great new addition to the MLS staff team,” said Susan Gallo, MLS’ Executive Director. “LakeSmart had its most active year in 2019, with more than 250 evaluations; and as MLS enters its 50th anniversary year, we are looking to expand the program even more.”
MacDonald replaces veteran LakeSmart Program Manager, Maggie Shannon, who has retired after more than 15 years with MLS. LakeSmart was established by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in 2003, but was transferred to MLS in 2013 after Shannon, then Executive Director of MLS, worked tirelessly with DEP staff on a successful plan to use volunteer evaluators. Under Shannon’s supervision, the program has grown exponentially.
“I’m excited for this opportunity to lead LakeSmart and build on the momentum Maggie has built over the last seven years,” said MacDonald. “LakeSmart is unique in its use of trusted community members from local lake associations to deliver messages to neighbors and friends about best practices for pollution reduction. The neighbor-to-neighbor transmission of information is the key that motivates behavior change. I’m excited to work on this innovative program that has already been replicated in other states like New Hampshire and Vermont.”
Our 2019 Fall/Winter Newsletter is Here!
To print a PDF or read on your computer, click here.
Photo by Ryan Burton
We’re wrapping up our slate of LakeSmart trainings for the year and had an amazing day in Unity on Aug. 10 with a new crew of enthusiastic LakeSmart evaluators from several different lake associations! They’ll be out in their communities meeting with camp owners, working with them to reduce runoff and erosion and protect water quality and wildlife habitat for their lakes. Want to find out more or get your association involved with LakeSmart? Learn more here.
in • sid • i • ous
By Maggie Shannon
Nonpoint Source Pollution (NPS), the leading cause of lake impairment, is insidious. By definition, NPS is diffuse, minute and gradual in its encroachment on water quality. Public naïveté and the sequestration of gathering impacts in deep lake waters may obscure the drastic outcome from observers until the ultimate drop in dissolved oxygen beneath the thermocline kills fish or yields a bloom like that pictured here. Make no mistake, though not inevitable, this unimaginable future is possible for any lake in a developing watershed, however clear its water may appear today.
In 1998, the head of Lake Assessment at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection informed my lake association we had maybe 20 years to avert serious damage to water quality in Great Pond. Although it hasn’t bloomed yet, its area of anoxia at depth is 35 times greater than it was in 1983, and professionally guided research suggests we haven’t long to wait. Two upstream lakes in our chain of ponds bloom and a third is flirting with it at fall overturn. One of these three was treated with aluminum phosphate in 2018 and had a summerful of clear water for the first time in 30 years. It cost the community $2,000,000 and in the words of the primary fundraiser, “It was worth every penny.” This is no doubt true, but the fix is time-limited and may need to be repeated around 2040.
The point is, NPS is a Stealth Enemy, and it’s important for all lake associations to arm themselves against its approach. Because it’s counter-intuitive for uninformed lake dwellers to think hardly noticeable stormwater runoff could affect something as large as a lake, effective communication and site-specific remedies are wanted. LakeSmart’s unique delivery system, a friendly visit from friends and neighbors, is the surprisingly powerful answer. Leading edge research confirms that person-to-person conversation within a community is the best way to bring about change in behavior; snazzy brochures, advertising, and even expert advice can’t move the average person to change day-to-day acts. Think about it: lake associations are perfectly positioned to answer the need, and they (I mean you!) possess the passion, the influence, and people power to get the job done. Act now. Sign up for LakeSmart before more harm comes your lake’s way. We provide instruction, all materials, ongoing counsel and technical support without cost to our anti-NPS partners. FMI.
LakeSmart: Our Time For Action
Like the slow approach of twilight, lake declines are hard to see coming. But, as lakers in the know, you and I didn’t need the 4th National Climate Assessment (NCA 2018) to tell us that growing danger is fast approaching places that we love. The NCA’s stark warning – especially for the Northeast – tells us delay is a luxury we can’t afford. It’s time to act.
NCA 2018 said “… the Northeast is projected to be more than 3.6 degrees F warmer … the largest increase in the contiguous United States” by 2035. (See page 5 for more information regarding this report.) Among expected outcomes are longer stretches of drought punctuated by downpours during open water season – a bad prescription for lake health. Adding that alpine, freshwater aquatic and certain forest habitats (such as Maine’s spruce and fir) are most at risk, NCA 2018 emphasized that “increasing demands upon these ecosystems to support human use and development” intensify the threat.
A clearer call to action is hard to imagine, but when the very character of our whole region is at stake, choosing which path to follow may seem hard. We, at Maine Lakes Society, as well as many lake practitioners and leaders recommend adopting LakeSmart because its triple-bottom line is precisely what’s needed in our time and place: stable and improved water quality; healthier wildlife habitat on land and water; and a brake against climate change itself. It’s likely this remedy applies to most folks reading this article, since most of us live or recreate in developing lake watersheds.
If your association hasn’t joined LakeSmart, we urge you to do it now while we still have a fighting chance to shield our lakes. For free training and materials, call Drew Morris at 207-495-2301 and ask to get connected to the LakeSmart, or write email@example.com.
Support the work of Maine Lakes Society to keep our lakes healthy! With your tax-deductible donation, you support statewide programming that protects water quality, wildlife habitat, and the countless economic, cultural, recreational, and spiritual benefits provided by our lakes.