45th Annual Maine Lakes Conference Informs and Inspires

Thank you to all who participated in our 45th Annual Maine Lakes Conference and Celebration on August 22nd! Our keynote presenter, Lisa Borre of The Clary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, led a great lineup of speakers with her informative presentation focused on climate change impacts on lakes and community action to identify and address multiple sources of threats to lake health. Borre provided a global context but brought it home with examples from Maine and elsewhere in New England, reminding the audience that some of the most important work to alleviate negative impacts of climate change begins at the local community level. Summaries of speaker presentations can be found here. Check back soon for links to presentations, more photos, and additional resources offered by presenters.


Keynote presentation by Lisa Borre on Conserving Lakes in a Time of Global Change. Photo by Ryan Burton.

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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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Living Lakes: Dragon or Damsel?

Odonates (better known to most of us as dragonflies and damselflies) exemplify the link between clean water and healthy wildlife.

Odonates spend most of their lives underwater. They hatch from eggs dropped in the water or laid on aquatic vegetation. The hatching nymphs then grow and molt repeatedly for up to four years. They are actively feeding and growing underwater all year long, which is mind boggling really when you think about it. Eventually they’ll molt into an adult, emerging from the water to live another couple of months while searching for a mate to start the cycle over again.

Odonates are voracious predators, both as nymphs and adults. They help control other insect populations, especially mosquitoes, and they themselves are an important food source for birds, frogs, fish, bees and other critters. To complete their life cycle, Odonates need clean water full of oxygen, healthy aquatic vegetation, and diverse upland vegetation where they can hide from predators, find prey and locate potential mates.

Each Odonate species has a particular habitat niche, so a mix of Odonate species around a lake is a good indicator of diverse and healthy habitats. Most are not tolerant of pollution, excessive nutrients or siltation, so as a group they are also excellent indicators of lake health.

Damselfly or Dragonfly? They are close relatives but easy to tell apart. Damselfly bodies are longer and thinner, and their narrower wings are usually held closed at rest. Dragonflies have shorter, chunkier bodies with larger eyes and rest with both sets of wings open.

Top Left Photo: The Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Lestes rectangularis) is a widespread dragonfly found across the lower 48 states. They prefer open and shallow ponds, lakes, marshes and slow streams with lots of sunlight and little surface vegetation. (Photo by Bill Bunn)

Top Right Photo: The Slender Spreadwing (Lestes rectangularis) damselfly is found in all 16 Maine counties, on lakes or ponds with regular shade and dense emergent vegetation. (Photo by Bill Bunn)

How can you help Odonates? Planting wide strips of diverse native vegetation along a lake’s edge is not only good for filtering runoff and protecting water quality. It also provides good wildlife habitat. Tall vertical plants such as grasses make ideal perches, though mixing those in with other broad-leaf plants is ideal.

Some experts say that Odonates will perch on tall bamboo stakes (not live plants), about 3-4 feet high and set in full sun among other lakeside vegetation. And, please, do not use pesticides! Without reproducing adults, there are no eggs, which are a valuable food source important to a lake’s ecosystem.

See the grasses and other buffer plants listed in the Buffer Handbook Plant List.

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Global Warning Threatens Ice on 1000s of Lakes in the Northern Hemisphere

Lakes are among the first in the environment to feel the effects of climate change. According to this BBC story, scientists believe some 35,000 lakes will lose their winter ice within a generation. What can you do? Each of us can help turn the tide of global climate change. Carpool to work, walk when you can, turn your heat down a degree or more, and wear an extra layer during the winter months. Your efforts matter!

Here’s a link to the BBC story and full text is below.

Lakes ‘skating on thin ice’ as warming limits freeze


Thousands of lakes across the Northern Hemisphere are set to lose their winter ice as global temperatures rise, say scientists.

Their new study suggests that, within a generation, over 35,000 lakes will lose their winter cover.

The researchers involved say the disappearance will have significant implications for millions of people living near these bodies of water.

It could also pose a threat to supplies of drinking water and to fish species.

Right now some 15,000 lakes in Canada, the US and northern parts of Europe experience intermittent ice cover during the winter months. This means that they freeze in the colder winters but remain ice free when winters are warmer.

This is already posing problems for communities living in these regions who rely on ice roads that cross lakes for food supplies and social connection.

Lake ice is also seen by scientists as an important long-term indicator of climate change and one of the world’s resources most threatened by rising temperatures.

Now, in what researchers believe is the most comprehensive analysis of lake ice loss, researchers say that many more lakes are set to go ice free in winter.

If the world manages to keep the rise in global temperatures to 2C, the study suggests that the number of lakes experiencing intermittent ice will increase to over 35,000. This may have implications for 394 million people who live within an hour of their shores.

“We’re not taking about lakes getting a little warmer. We are talking about lake ice being gone in the winter,” said Dr Catherine O’Reilly, a co-author on the study from Illinois State University.

“Our children and grandchildren would not see something we have taken for granted.”

In a worst case scenario, where the world warmed by 8C by the end of this century, the number of lakes impacted would be 230,400.

The authors stress that rather than being some long term prediction of the future implications of warming, this melting is happening now.

“It won’t require that much warming for these impacts to be felt,” said lead author Dr Sapna Sharma, from York University in Toronto, Canada.

“It’s happening right now – Lake Superior for example is no longer freezing every winter. The Great Lakes are experiencing it. We have examples from all around the world of lakes that are experiencing this big change and we predict its going to occur in a lot more lakes in the future.”

As well as promising an end to cultural and recreational activities such as outdoor skating and ice fishing, the loss of lake ice is also threatening environmental impacts. Lakes that don’t freeze over are more susceptible to losing more water through evaporation.

Disappearing ice – a case study

From Alaska to Canada, from Germany to Japan, the report highlights similar trends in disappearing ice.

At Lake Suwa in Japan, data on the onset of ice has been collected since the 1400s. Local legend has it that a ridge in the ice is formed by the feet of the Shinto gods as they cross the lake.

Priests have recorded the date when this icy ridge appears since 1443. In the first 250 years of records, the lake didn’t freeze just three times. Between 2005 and 2016, there were seven winters when the lake was freeze free.

Lakes get warmer faster in the spring with the potential onset of harmful algal blooms, as well as reduced oxygen levels in the water.

“Ecologically, not having ice on these lakes does not bode well for how the ecosystem will respond,” said Dr Sharma.

“Rapid warming of lakes has implications for the potential to have degraded water quality and development of algal blooms earlier on in the open-water season. In addition, dissolved oxygen concentrations could decline earlier in the summer season, leaving more fish at risk of dying due to a compromised habitat.”

The key element at work in limiting the ice is air temperature. However, there were other factors at play including the shape of the lake, with more circular shorelines receiving greater wind shear across their surfaces, which can prevent the formation of ice.

Water depth is also very important.

“The deeper the lake is, the more heat storage it has and it takes more cold weather to get the lake down to a temp where it could freeze,” said Prof John Magnuson, a co-author from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The study has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

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Spring Newsletter v44 Spring 2018

  1. Please Enjoy our latest and greatest Spring Newsletter v.44  of 2018!

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