Become a Better Steward of the Watershed (Lake, Pond, and River)
Here is a slightly edited version of an article in the summer issue of the Maine Lakes News Digest available through the website, Mr. Lakefront.
Those of us who own lakefront properties or use the water resources in the watershed are appreciative of all the beauty and recreation that we are so fortunate to have before us and experience. Unfortunately, unless we all take steps to become better stewards, these resources will not persist in the pristine manner which we love and are accustomed to. If we start to understand how our watershed influences us and what influence we have on it, we can learn to take better care of it all. We ALL have a vested interest in fostering stewardship of our beloved waterways, whether it is Megunticook Lake, Norton Pond or the Megunticook River.
Below are seventeen ways you can become a better steward of the lake, pond and river:
1. Join the Megunticook Watershed Association. You can keep up to date on our activities and learn how the association works to benefit the watershed in different ways. You don’t have to own property to be a member!
2. Volunteer to inspect boats at the boat ramps – at Rt. 52 or Bog Bridge on the lake, or at Breezemere Park on Norton Pond. These areas are possible venues for invasive water plants to be introduced inadvertently. You can educate boaters how to prevent their spread no matter where they launch their boat whether it’s a motorboat, kayak, canoe or any other watercraft of which there seem to be more and more.
3. Help inventory aquatic plants – learn what is native and what is invasive.
4. Do the same for fish and other animals that live in the lake. Did you know that there is an invasive snail found in the watershed? The Chinese mystery snail, a very large dark-colored snail has been found in various locations. Look for it and report where you are seeing it to the MWA Executive Director or Lake Warden.
5. Offer or attend nature walks in the area to develop knowledge about the natural attributes that are found in the watershed.
6. Consider training to help with the water testing program that starts in the late spring and continues on a weekly basis into the fall.
7. Plant or maintain a healthy vegetative buffer – i.e. plants! – along the edge of the water if you own property. This helps prevent runoff that decreases the water quality as well as adds beauty and a place for wildlife to flourish.
8. Check your property and alleviate any water erosion issues.
9. Know where your septic system is and make sure it is functioning properly. Have it pumped out at least every 5 years or more often if necessary.
10. Participate in the annual loon count.
11. Learn about Lake Smart and how you can participate and qualify for an award.
12. Encourage others not to harass loons or other wildlife. Refrain from using lead fishing tackle that can poison loons and kill them if it finds its way into the water by mistake.
13. Honor the wake zones! Waves cause shoreline erosion.
14. Please do not litter or let trash get into the water. Make a point of recycling as much as you can.
15. Pick up the trash you might find either floating in the water or at picnic sites and dispose of it properly. You might be careful but others are not
16. Do not use the lake as your personal bathtub! Keep soaps and other cleansers out of the water! They add needless pollutants to the water that can lead to algae overgrowth and a decrease in water quality.
17. Become empowered by learning about the steps you can take to protect the air, land and water. Get involved at the community and state level. Attend conferences about lake and watershed health that take place around the state. Use the knowledge to educate others. Everyone will benefit, including the health of our precious water resources of the Megunticook watershed!
Lakes, ponds and rivers play a huge role in our social well-being and economic prosperity and are home to countless other living beings. We owe it to everyone and to the native wildlife to be good care-takers for generations to come.