August 11, 2014

WRPA partners with others to help protect Raymond's waterways - By Peggy Jensen

Raymond Waterways Protective Association (RWPA) partners with many groups as it works to protect Raymond’s waterways. It partners with Maine Volunteer Lakes Monitoring Program (VLMP) to monitor water quality in Raymond’s lakes and ponds. Secchi disks are used to measure water clarity. The deeper the disk is visible, the clearer the water. Raymond’s lakes are consistently more clear than the average readings in the state. Keeping that clarity has been a priority for RWPA. Partnering with Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) has allowed RWPA to conduct watershed surveys and obtain grants under the federal Clean Water Act, Section 319. These grants have involved more partnerships—with the town of Raymond, with local lake associations, and with Portland Water District—to provide matching grants to cooperating property owners to implement various strategies to keep storm water runoff from entering the lakes and ponds. The runoff carries soil particles that carry phosphorous and that acts as ‘fertilizer’ for algae. Preventing algae blooms of green scum is just one benefit. Keeping Raymond’s lakes and ponds attractive to visitors helps maintain the local economy. RWPA has also partnered with VLMP to provide free training for staff and volunteers to learn to identify invasive aquatic species that threaten Maine’s lakes. 
In early June, RWPA and local lake associations sponsored a VLMP Introductory Plant Patrol workshop to teach staff and volunteers to identify invasive aquatic species that threaten Maine’s lakes. Some of the participants were RWPA summer staff. Many participants were volunteer plant patrollers who find retaking the training helps to keep their skills sharp. And RWPA was especially pleased to have a group of Girl Scouts from Windham enjoying the learning opportunity. The Scouts hope to survey the Windham shoreline of Sebago to find where variable milfoil has settled in. Since RWPA hopes to complete a survey of Raymond’s shore, this could be another partnership, maybe even a model for more towns to join in the effort to combat milfoil in Sebago.

In late June, RWPA again partnered with local lake associations to sponsor a 2-day VLMP Manual Control and Diver workshop on Sebago Lake. Divers and others who help control milfoil came from around the state to learn the most recent procedures for removing invasive plants from Maine’s waters. The RWPA Diver Assisted Suction Harvester (DASH) boat and crew hosted the second day of in-the-water training and were recognized for their skills.

In August, RWPA and local lake associations will sponsor a final day of training provided by VLMP, how to conduct a field survey and mapping. Hopefully many people from Raymond will participate and form the nucleus of a group of volunteers who will work with RWPA to survey and map all of Raymond’s shore on Sebago for variable milfoil. If no new sites are found there will be great rejoicing! But if new sites are found, RWPA can then use that information to plan next season’s work.
RWPA has been fortunate to have a long-time partnership with Port Harbor Marina. Port Harbor has provided docking space and help with off-loading the harvested milfoil that are key to the success of the DASH work. Property owners in the Bayview area continue to support the DASH work. The town of Raymond has been an important partner in removing the harvested milfoil to a place safe from accidental re-entry to the lake and in maintaining the DASH equipment. 

Even more important are the partnerships that RWPA has established with local lake associations who contribute funds, and sometimes volunteers, to maintain the Courtesy Boat Inspection (CBI) program. Providing voluntary inspections of all boats and trailers entering Raymond’s waters on weekends and holidays during the summer season is the first line of defense against invasives.

In addition, RWPA has partnered with many, many volunteers who step in whenever needed to keep the CBI and DASH programs going, to do the regular water quality monitoring, the yearly plant patrols on the lakes and ponds, and to help work in the Jordan River to remove milfoil there. Staff and campers from Camp Agawam on Crescent Lake and workers from Tom’s of Maine have given generously of their time—and strength—to help place benthic barrier tarps in the river. The barrier tarps deny the variable milfoil sunlight and thus prevent photosynthesis essential for plant life. Thanks to all their hard work, the river is now two-thirds to three-fourths clear of milfoil. 

Recently, RWPA has partnered with property owners in the Turtle Cove/Mason Cove area of Sebago to construct a second DASH boat and to work on removing milfoil from those coves.

There is still much work to do. Crescent Lake is finishing a Clean Water Act grant this season. 

Panther Pond has completed a watershed survey and is moving toward applying for a grant. Raymond and Thomas Ponds are recruiting more plant patrol volunteers. The monitoring needs to continue on all the waters. 

RWPA looks forward to continuing current partnerships and to embracing new ones. If you’d like to be a part of the effort to keep Raymond’s waters clean and healthy, visit the RWPA website or contact RWPA:

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