BELGRADE — Boaters looking to paddle from Great Meadow Spring into Great Pond will have to wait until at least the end of year, state officials said Monday.

The temporary area ban on non-motorized boats has been extended by state officials in order to help prevent milfoil from spreading throughout Great Pond.

The restricted area includes Great Meadow Spring from where Route 225 crosses over and extends into the northwest corner of North Bay in Great Pond. Buoys mark the restricted area’s boundary.

The original ban for all watercraft went into effect April 23, but the surface restriction on non-motorized boats was set to continue through Sept. 21 to allow for duck hunters to access the areas. Now, that restriction will continue through Dec. 31.

The departments of Environmental Protection and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife extended the ban to help sustain the efforts by the DEP and local associations like the Belgrade Lakes Association and Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance in the removal and suppression of the invasive plant species. Staffers and volunteers at the local associations have been removing milfoil plants by hand and with diver-operated suction, as well as deploying heavy plastic sheets, called benthic barriers, to block sunlight and apply pressure to kill the plants.

Samantha DePoy-Warren, spokeswoman for the DEP, said the work to fight back variable leaf milfoil infestation has been too valuable to lose traction.

“Paddles can transport invasive plants just as easily as motors,” she said.

DePoy-Warren said the ban could be extended into next year after the departments meet again with community stakeholders this winter, but it’s not a decision they’ll take lightly.

“The health of those lakes is so critical to those communities,” she said. “They understand the short-term inconvenience has a much more meaningful long-term payoff.”

The surface use restriction allows boat access in emergency situations where property or human safety is endangered, as well as for DEP-endorsed efforts in the survey and removal of milfoil.

Under state law, both the DEP and IFW had to agree to the surface use restriction. DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho and IFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock signed off on the extension.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

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