June 28, 2024

Raymond Waterways Protective Association conducts annual meeting

By Nancy Crilly-Kirk
Special to The Windham Eagle

The annual meeting of Raymond Waterways Protective Association was held at the Hawthorne House in Raymond on June 22 and the organization’s president summed up the accomplishments of the past year and challenges ahead, while the main speaker outlined an effective program to help lakes in Maine, and new board members were formally elected.

Guest speaker Susan Gallo, the executive director of 
Maine Lakes, told those attending the Raymond
Waterways Protective Association's annual meeting
that heathy lakes contribute between $4.2 billion and
$14 billion to the Maine economy each year.
RWPA President Wayne Eckerson said some of RWPA’s work this year began in March with planning and hiring for the summer. That includes hiring a Courtesy Boat Inspector Manager, Sarah Henderson, who is a Raymond resident and an adjunct faculty member in environmental studies at the University of Southern Maine.

Eckerson said Raymond Waterways oversees four boat launches throughout Raymond ponds and lakes, where paid and volunteer inspectors check boats for invasive species before they are launched to prevent the spread of invasives. As Raymond waterways are severally connected, the Courtesy Boat Inspection program is crucial to keeping all the town’s lakes and ponds healthy.

He also introduced board member Steve Craine, who will be managing the LakeSmart Program to control erosion for Raymond shoreland property owners.

According to Eckerson, a new emphasis will be placed on public education and he said efforts will be made to provide the public with readable, portable literature on how to preserve lake health. Sabre Yachts, of Raymond, for instance, will fund the printing of 2,000 cards, distributed at various local businesses this summer, that help new and returning visitors with information on how to keep the lakes healthy. Juliet Kirk, Raymond Waterways system expert, opened Raymond Waterways’ Facebook page on June 23.

Acknowledgements and gratitude were expressed by Eckerson to Peggy and Neil Jensen, long-time RWPA volunteers; State Representative and director Jess Fay, for organizing the meeting; Marie Connolly for her long-time service as treasurer and plant patroller on Panther Pond; Sibyl French and Bunny Wescott for their several years’ service patrolling and organizing the 66 volunteers who survey Raymond waterways for invasive plants, and a remembrance of Woody Beach, a Raymond Waterways board member and coordinator of the Audubon Society’s loon count for many years, who died late this spring.

During the meeting Neil Jensen said that it is not a question of “if” with invasive weeds and species spoiling our waterways, but “when,” and urged the RWPA to continue the CBI and invasive plant patrol programs.

Bob French, another longtime RWPA volunteer, pointed out the economic benefit of healthy lakes to all property and businesses owners in Raymond, even those who are not on the shoreline. A recent University of Maine study reinforced this idea:

As the guest speaker Susan Gallo, executive director of Maine Lakes, said healthy lakes in Maine contribute from $4.2 billion to $14 billion, to the Maine economy each year.

Gallo also presented information about the LakeSmart Program, which Raymond Waterways has adopted this year. Her points included praise for Raymond Waterways for existing out of 2300 Great Ponds over 10 acres in Maine, only 100 have lake associations for lake health—and for RW’s commitment to lake health.

She also said that erosion, even more than invasive species, is the biggest threat to Raymond lakes and ponds. It encourages algae, which not only clouds lake health, but can be dangerous to animals, and humans.

Raymond Waterways will send experts to your Raymond lakefront property to evaluate and advise you how to decrease erosion in a non-regulatory, non-enforcing way. Every consultation is free and non-binding, and no reports by the volunteers in LakeSmart will be sent to any regulatory agencies. As one of the LakeSmart experts said, “What Have You Got to Lose?”

LakeSmart seeks to discourage the “suburban norm of lawns to lakefront”—the idea that lakefront properties have to look like owners’ other houses in the suburbs. That lawn culture increased with the influx of new lakefront owners during the pandemic. Lawns, more than native forest and shrubs, add considerably more phosphates and other chemicals to lake water.

Some residents of Turtle Cove on Sebago Lake brought up the continuing issue of invasive Asian Milfoil in their part of the lake. The Town of Raymond has taken over that work and hired a private contractor but the problem seems to persist.

Jennifer Danzig, of the Thomas Pond Association, urged Raymond registered voters to attend the Tuesday, Aug. 13 Raymond Select Board meeting at 5:30 p.m. to vote to change the solar ordinance to limit large-scale commercial solar projects on Raymond shorelines. For more info, contact Laurie Wallace at rwallac23@gmail.com.

RWPA members in attendance also unanimously elected:

· Angelo Conti, a graduate of Unity College with a degree in Environmental Studies, and an avid angler, who oversees the CBI program,

· Juliet Kirk, a Columbia graduate and mechanical engineer with a specialty in systems and part of a family that has owned camps on Panther for more than 100 years

· Peter Rowland, a Tufts graduate and Sebago Lake resident, who has agreed to be Treasurer for the board.

See the raymondwaterways.org site for more information on the LakeSmart program and other information about Raymond lakes and ponds.

Raymond Waterways is hiring Courtesy Boat Inspectors.to check boats entering Raymond lakes and ponds at public boat launches on Panther Pond, Crescent Lake, Thomas Pond and the Raymond part of Sebago Lake for invasive species, and to help educate the public about the importance of safe practices to keep the lakes healthy. Inspectors must be 16 or older and enjoy spending time outdoors and meeting people. Part-time with some flexibility in hours. Inspection shifts are mostly (but not entirely) on weekends and holidays throughout the summer. The pay is $18/hour. If interested, please contact cbi@raymondwaterways.org

A non-profit association dedicated to protecting and improving the water quality of Raymond's lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams and fostering watershed stewardship for the benefit of residents and visitors to the area, visit the Raymond waterways website at raymondwaterways.org <

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