July 14 – 20, 2023Vol. 25, No. 5

Who Will Help the Lakes?

The 7 Lakes Alliance building in Belgrade Lakes Village houses a team of year-round scientists and other staff who work to protect the waters and land in the 115,000 acre Belgrade Lakes watershed. Although it is just five years old, the 7 Lakes Alliance is built on the nearly half-century legacy of its two predecessor organizations, the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance and the Maine Lakes Resource Center.

Maine’s lakes are legendary. An estimated 6,000 of them dot the landscape, blue the maps and bring belonging to the hearts of uncountable humans. Maine’s lakes are a source of indescribable beauty, a substantial economic contributor to their communities, a habitat for many of the state’s beloved wildlife, birds and plants and an indicator of environmental health.

As a crucial, sought-after commodity that doesn’t exist in much of the world or in many other states, the plentiful natural water in Maine deserves to be protected against diminishing water quality, invasive aquatic plants (and fish species), excessive watercraft wakes and crowded development.

Protections against these challenges include state laws and their oversight by the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Conservation. Others include the coordination and work of statewide organizations such as Maine Lakes and the Lake Stewards of Maine. And many protections are put in place by regional and watershed organizations such as the 30 Mile River Watershed Association, the Cobbossee Watershed District and the 7 Lakes Alliance — each of which serves as an umbrella organization for the lake associations in their jurisdictions.

The 7 Lakes Alliance, for example, represents the seven lakes in the Belgrade chain: Great Pond, Long Pond, East Pond, North Pond, McGrath Pond, Salmon Lake, and Messalonskee Lake, a.k.a. Snow Pond. These lakes, in turn, are represented by five lake associations: The Belgrade Lakes Association (Great and Long Ponds), East Pond Association, North Pond Association, McGrath Pond/Salmon Lake Association, and the Friends of Messalonskee.

Individual and unique, each lake association tends to focus on challenges, concerns and projects. Last summer, 2022, for example, the Belgrade Lakes Association reported on its impressive loon project; East Pond, the alum treatment which cleared the algae bloom; North Pond, on current state of algae blooms; McGraw Pond/Salmon Lake, on the Lakesmart program of lake-friendly property improvements; and the Friends of Messalonskee, on loon translocation.

Although they have not met yet this season, annual meetings are scheduled, beginning with the East Pond Association on July 15, the North Pond Association on July 24, the Friends of Messalonskee on July 29, the Belgrade Lakes Association on July 30, and the McGraw Pond/Salmon Lake Association on August 10.

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