August 4 – 10, 2023Vol. 25, No. 8

Summer Is In Full Swing

Cousins Laina, Jocie, and Aly sitting on a rock.

by Pete Kallin

We have finally had most of a week without rain, although it’s been really hot and humid. That has gotten a lot of people out in the water to cool off, including me. I am part of a 7 Lakes Alliance program called “Adopt-a-shoreline.” I am a trained Invasive Plant Patrol (IPP) volunteer. You don’t have to be [a trained IPP volunteer] to participate in this program, but it helps. 7 Lakes conducts multiple trainings throughout the summer at multiple locations. Visit their website for details or stop into the gallery to learn more.

Basically the program is to patrol your shorefront at least twice a summer from a small boat or by snorkeling to look for plants that weren’t there before. If you find something that looks suspicious, grab a sample and bring it in to 7 Lakes for an ID. My area is Tracy Cove on Long Pond, which has over a mile of shoreline. It is an area where I fish regularly, paying careful attention to the plants.

At least once a year during the heat of summer, I patrol by snorkel. It cools me off, is good exercise, and gives me an up-close look at all the weed beds and “large woody debris” where the fish hang out. I have found a lot of good fishing spots this way as well as a lot of fishing lures lost by other fishermen.

All the plants I found were natives, including several milfoil look-alikes, such as water marigold which has the same “bottle brush” look as milfoil but has branching leaves instead of feathered leaves. I also spotted some large (about the size of a small football) freshwater bryozoans on some submerged tree branches. These are colonial animal with tentacles that looks like a weird jellyfish and feeds on small invertebrates.

I’ve been getting a few hikes in and doing some mushroom and berry foraging in the Kennebec Highlands. It is a much better mushroom year so far than last year, and the blueberries on top of Vienna Mountain are having a bumper crop.

Greg Held (right) and his grandson Nathan.
Henry and David with a sunfish on the hook.

I am also seeing a lot of kids out hiking with family. Last week I met Greg Held and his grandson Nathan Castillo from Neptune, NJ, hiking at French Mountain. The Helds have a camp on the north end of Great Pond, and Greg pointed out that Nathan is part of the fifth generation taking care of the family camp. He also said that the rain garden installed on the property by the YCC about 10 years ago has been “working like a champ” and preventing runoff despite all the rain we’ve had. I’m also seeing lots of my neighbors’ grandkids and relatives enjoying the water, including Sarah Toner’s nephews Henry and David, from Gorham catching sunfish, and more of Eric Hasenfus’ grandkids swimming.

This area offers some great outdoor recreation, whether you like to hike, bike, birdwatch, fish, sail, or paddle a canoe or kayak. Pick up a map of the local trails at Day’s Store or the 7LA building. Also, please check the sign out front and the 7LA FaceBook page for details on some interesting events scheduled this summer. The Tuesday afternoon presentations by Chewonki are especially popular with kids. Check the website and keep an eye on the sign out front. And make sure you take a kid along on your next outdoor adventure!

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