Imagine your favorite lake or pond covered with the brown, smelly scum of an algae bloom. Could you enjoy boating or swimming if the shoreline was clogged with milfoil or some other invasive aquatic plant? And what would happen to the economy if anything damaged Maine’s lakes? Water quality is affected by what happens throughout watersheds – in every town, every development, every house lot.
The Lakes Environmental Association (LEA) is dedicated to protecting the waters and watersheds of Western Maine. There are many threats facing our lakes and individuals can only do so much. Even an association representing a cove, road or lake speaks with a small voice that can easily be lost among all the competing interests. So those of us who care – really care – about our lakes need to speak in a voice loud enough to be heard. Our members often sum up the reason they join LEA in just three words: “Strength in numbers.”
For five decades, LEA has been the voice of lake protection in the Lakes Region. Maine might not have a milfoil program today if LEA hadn’t fought so hard in the Legislature. When the federal government proposed a nuclear waste dump near Sebago Lake, LEA played a big part in the battle to defeat it. And right now, LEA is trying hard to increase enforcement of Maine’s environmental protection laws, while at the same time helping property owners understand how and why lake protection is vital.
LEA’s staff, board, members and volunteers work every day to protect our waters. LEA’s programs and projects include:
Mitigation or Clean Lake Check-Up program – This program offers free technical consultations to landowners regarding land use concerns, problems or permits. These check-ups are offered to all landowners and even those who need to resolve a violation. The goals are to educate landowners and protect water quality.
Municipal services – Planning and Compliance Program – These are services offered to municipal officials. They range from mitigation plans for violations, computer mapping services, planning and ordinance expertise and project reviews for subdivisions or commercial projects.
Invasive aquatic species program – Through this program, LEA coordinates Maine’s Courtesy Boat Inspection program, prevents and controls milfoil infestations, and educates the general public about prevention and the harm invasive aquatic species can cause.
Water testing and monitoring – LEA monitors the water quality of 41 area lakes with the assistance of a cadre of volunteers and financial support from six communities: Bridgton, Harrison, Denmark, Naples, Waterford and Sweden.
Education – LEA educates hundreds of adults and school children annually through in-school programs, Holt Pond Camp and hikes, the Caplan Family Environmental Education Series and other special programs.
Land conservation and recreation – LEA created the 700-acre Holt Pond Preserve and maintains trail systems along the Stevens Brook in Bridgton and at Holt Pond. LEA partnered with the Loon Echo Land Trust to establish Pondicherry Park in downtown Bridgton.
Environmental policy and affiliations – Much of LEA’s effectiveness is attributable to state and regional affiliations and its leadership in developing statewide lake policy. LEA initiated the Maine Milfoil Summit held annually in March and LEA staff members have served on numerous state task forces.
Membership services, funding and administration – LEA’s life blood is membership support. Maintaining this support and fulfilling administrative duties are constants.
Special projects – LEA conducts a wide range of special projects including, but not limited to Contractor Certification courses, grants for planning and education, and developing boat wash stations.
More information about LEA: