July 8 – 14, 2022Vol. 24, No. 5

7 Lakes Alliance Has Lots to Celebrate

by Anthony Wilson

The 7 Lakes Alliance is rapidly approaching its fifth anniversary, and we have lots to celebrate. With many existing and emerging threats facing the Belgrade Lakes watershed, we’ll also briefly tell you how 7 Lakes is tackling these challenges.

Most important, we will recognize and honor our newest landowner partners who have entrusted 7 Lakes, a nationally accredited land trust, with conserving and stewarding their land forever in the Belgrade Lakes Watershed. Land conservation is integral to who we are and what we do in two regards:

  1. Land conservation expands opportunities for the public to connect with nature through hiking, bird-watching, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and other outdoor adventures. Spending time in nature is restorative for the body, for the mind and for the soul, and there’s nowhere better to be “lost in the woods” than in the Belgrades.
  2. Land conservation is inextricably linked to conserving our lakes. Protecting water quality is impossible without ensuring the lands that surround them are not leaking dirt into the lakes via erosion. The phosphorus in dirt feeds algae, which can transform water into a murky, green soup. Undeveloped lands, with forested canopies, undergrowth and floors of pine needles, moss and leaves, serve as both a buffer that blocks runoff into lakes and as a sponge, absorbing and filtering rainwater before it flows into streams and other water bodies.

Another cause for celebration is the recent acquisition of 813 acres, mostly atop Vienna Mountain, part of the western skyline that rises above Long Pond in the Belgrade Lakes village. 7 Lakes’ partnership with the Maine Bureau of Public Lands ensures public access to those Allen’s Blueberry lands in Vienna and New Sharon. In keeping with our mission, that acreage is crucial to protecting a high-quality pond in New Sharon.

Land conservation is more critical than ever when one considers all seven lakes are under threat, deemed either “impaired” or “threatened” by the state; that development continues to spread along shorelines; and that climate change is sparking more gully washers that yield significant runoff.

Fortunately, the 7 Lakes Alliance is up to the task of meeting the challenges. With its professional staff, its nationally recognized land trust accreditation, its partnership with lake associations and with Colby College, and its sciencebased approaches, 7 Lakes is uniquely qualified to confront the threats, ensuring many more summer celebrations well into the distant future.

Anthony Wilson is the 7 Lakes Alliance’s communication director.

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