ROME — Volunteers joined with officials from the Travis Mills Foundation on Tuesday to work on erosion-prevention measures intended to protect the Long Pond lakefront alongside the retreat for wounded veterans.

About 15 volunteers from the 7 Lakes Alliance, Belgrade Lakes Association and Travis Mills Foundation put in 40 plants and mulch for a shoreside rain garden, a large buffer garden and an infiltration trench to prevent soil erosion into Long Pond. More mulch will be added to the garden next week.

“One of the largest attractions of our retreat is our lakefront,” said Brandy Cain, executive director of the Travis Mills Foundation. “We know that our veteran families enjoy Maine’s freshest waters because we all have a shared interest in the viability of our lakes. By taking these proactive measures, the Travis Mills Foundation can ensure that we are doing our part for better lakes for us all.”

Bill Morris packs mulch around a plant Tuesday at the waterfront area of the Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat on Long Pond in Rome. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

The retreat opened in 2017 following work by Travis Mills, an Army staff sergeant who lost all four of his limbs after surviving an explosion in Afghanistan. Since his injuries, Mills, a 30-year-old Michigan native, has started a foundation to raise money for wounded veterans and moved to the Augusta area, where his wife, Kelsey, is from.

The foundation says the retreat “supports recalibrated veterans and their families through long-term programs that help these heroic men and women overcome physical obstacles, strengthen their families and provide well-deserved rest and relaxation.”

The retreat includes a handicapped-accessible lodge, lake access, kayaks, bicycles, paddle boards, a movie theater, children’s play space and other amenities.

Laura Rose Day, CEO of the nonprofit 7 Lakes Alliance, said the group’s Conservation Corps was excited to partner with the Travis Mills Foundation to protect Long Pond “by keeping eroding soil and the excess phosphorus it carries from ever getting into the lake,” which is a key step in preventing harmful algal blooms.

“Our partnership will benefit the families who visit the foundation and everyone else who depends upon a healthy Long Pond for work, play and a healthy place to live,” Day said.


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