BELGRADE LAKES — As spring approaches, teams are gearing up to stop the invasion of variable milfoil in Great Pond and Great Meadow Stream, which flows from North Pond into Great Pond.

That effort will come into focus Tuesday, when the commissioner of Maine State Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Chandler Woodcock, meets with the Belgrade Lakes Association’s Milfoil Task Committee. They’ll discuss who should be restricted from using portions of the bodies of water in order to prevent spreading of the invasive plant species.

The public may attend the meeting, which will be held at 4 p.m. at the Maine Lakes Resource Center at 137 Main St.

Lynn Matson, co-chairman of the Belgrade Lakes Association’s Milfoil Task Committee, said Woodcock was invited to discuss the possibility of extending existing restrictions to non-motorized watercraft, including canoes and kayaks.

Mark Heuberger, who co-chairs the committee with Matson, said his group also would like to close the area to fishermen.

“The key issue is that it applied only to motorized boats and we’re trying to expand that restriction so it applies not only to motorize boats but to all boats and fishing,” Heuberger said. “One of the things to successfully control milfoil is to keep people out of that area. Motor props and the action of a paddle, even a fishing lure can cause fragmentation of the plant. That’s how it spreads to other parts of the lake.”

The Maine Departments of Environmental Protection and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife imposed a surface use restriction in 2010, barring motorboats from the stretch of Great Meadow Stream between the Route 225 bridge and the mouth on the stream in the North Bay of Great Pond, where a milfoil infestation has occurred.

Great Meadow Stream flows from North Pond into the northwest corner of North Bay and divides Rome and Smithfield. Dozens of volunteers have been pulling milfoil plants out by hand.

Heuberger said raising public awareness is a key way of preventing milfoil from spreading and choking off native plants and ruining the waters for other habitat and for recreation. He believes boaters would want to help the effort and stay out of the area.

The Belgrade Lakes Association kicked off its $500,000 Stop Milfoil Campaign on Feb. 1. Matson said the campaign will fund a three-year effort to control the milfoil infestation in the stream and Great Pond.

“We’ve been in contact with New England Milfoil and they’ll come in for nine weeks this summer and lead the hand-pulling efforts,” Heuberger said.

In addition to volunteers, the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance will hire summer staff to do the pulling and put down barriers, while surveying both Great Pond and Long Pond for other milfoil outbreaks, he said.

The New England Milfoil Company has a team of certified divers that has spent hundreds of hours underwater hand-pulling tons of milfoil from area lakes and ponds, according to its website. The company also uses a suction harvester that can suck up dense patches of the invasive plant.

Matson said the campaign has collected $75,000 worth of donations in its first three weeks.

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]


For more information on Tuesday’s meeting or on the Milfoil Task Committee, call the Maine Lakes Resource Center at 495-7793 or contact Corinne Dawson at the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance at 495-6039.

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