The Friends of Messalonskee has been awarded a $12,500 grant from the Roger N. Heald Fund of the Maine Community Foundation. This grant will enable Friends of Messalonskee to begin an Invasive Plant Paddle program to educate community members, particularly the underserved, who might not otherwise have access to the lake, according to a news release from nonprofit, based out of Sidney.

With the grant money, Friends of Messalonskee will purchase kayaks, paddles and life jackets for six participants at a time to get out on the lake. Friends’ volunteers will be trained as Plant Paddle Leaders who will help community members learn to safely maneuver a kayak, identify plant species, wildlife, and become good stewards of the watershed area.

Already, Friends has approached students from Maine Arts Academy and Oakland’s Senior Center to participate in this program, offered free of charge. The hope is that the program can be offered to the community at large sometime in the future.

The Friends of Messalonskee, founded as the Messalonskee Lake Association in 1990, is a nonprofit volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation of Messalonskee Lake (aka Snow Pond). Its purpose is to educate the public and promote the responsible use of the lake through conducting projects, programs, and activities including: Supporting wildlife preservation; informing and educating the public of the results of water quality monitoring; teaching and promoting practices which protect the water quality of the lake ecosystem; and encouraging safe recreational use of the lake.

According to the release, Messalonskee Lake is the last lake in the chain of Belgrade Lakes and is at the head of the Messalonskee Stream which then runs into the Kennebec River and Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection has recently found invasive plants in the river. Messalonskee Lake was recently placed on the Maine DEP’s Threatened Lakes Priority list.

Headquartered in Ellsworth, the Maine Community Foundation works with donors and other partners to provide strong investments, personalized service, local expertise, and strategic giving to improve the quality of life for all Maine people.