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Milfoil Progress Report

The 2022 field season for LEA’s milfoil program was incredible. Thanks to a huge funding boost in 2020 and 2021 we expanded our crew to 18 divers and 4 boats! We continue to focus our work in Long Lake, the Songo River, and Northern Sebago Lake including Frye Island, Sebago Cove, Kettle Cove and the Northwest River. We were fortunate to have some amazing senior crew members and invested new divers join the team.

Long Lake: Thanks to the rapid response since 2019, finding milfoil patches in Long Lake is challenging. Crew members focusing in this area spent days sea-sledding (check out our youtube page for some footage), and might never see a plant. Nonetheless, we did locate singular milfoil plants in the Bridgton Academy beach cove, and small patches of plants near the Harrison boat launch. Our benthic barriers from the 2021 season showed positive results in Cape Monday Cove, only requiring surveying and hand pulling in the 2022 season. The majority of the milfoil at Salmon Point and Four Seasons Campground has been removed, we continue to find individual plants and small patches in these areas. Public awareness of milfoil is growing in the Bridgton Academy Beach Cove and Cape Monday Cove. In August, we held a plant identification workshop at the north end of the lake hosted by a concerned homeowner, and we also presented at the Cape Monday Cove Association meeting. Public awareness and knowledge of milfoil will continue to be important in order to limit the spread and catch new infestations early.

The Songo River crew taking a break from suction harvesting below the Songo Locks

The Songo River is a place we will forever be monitoring, tarping and harvesting. This highly traveled waterway is challenging to work in, and while it looks nothing like it did when we began there years ago, plants always seem to be lurking! The number of shallow coves present a particular problem as they are ripe for milfoil growth, and people exploring the coves in motor boats can catch plants and bring them back into the main channel. We worked hard this season to tarp and harvest any plants and patches that we saw, and did an extensive amount of surveying and re-visiting areas. Boaters can help us a great deal by not driving into coves, and giving divers in the water a wide berth! We are extremely fortunate to work with a generous land owner near Sebago State Park and are able to base operations out of “the Point”. A huge thank you to Dottie and Drew Betz. Another huge asset for the milfoil removal program is the Courtesy Boat Inspector Program that works to keep invasive aquatic plants out of the water before they take hold. They are also excellent at notifying the crew if milfoil is coming out on boats, as it was at the Sebago State Park Boat Launch this summer. Multiple surveys finally revealed the culprit- a large patch directly under where boats would launch, back around, and take off! Through the eyes of many we finally got that patch under a benthic barrier!

We were fortunate enough to have News center Maine come out this summer and do a story on our crew on the Songo. Click the image above to see the full story.

Sebago Cove may truly be our greatest challenge yet. Where Muddy River meets Sebago Lake was once clearly a stream and wetland (the stream channel is highlighted when water is low), this area became flooded with the installation of dams along the Presumpscot River but remains extremely shallow throughout. It is protected from high winds and waves that can ravage Sebago Lake, and unfortunately sees many visitors looking for a protected spot to waterski and boat. This is troublesome because the cove is highly infested with milfoil, which boating can chop up and spread, and visiting boaters are sometimes not aware of. Landowners along Sebago Cove are frustrated and looking for some solidarity and some success!

Aidan, Alec, and Tommy laying benthic barriers in Sebago Cove

This season we continued the Sebago Cove Land owner initiative, where we focused on working with specific shore land owners to clear their dock and swimming areas, and make sure they have clear access to the main channel. While this program was less popular this season dew to an increased number of renters, we still serviced a number of shore land owners. With fewer Sebago Cove land owner initiative projects this year we were able to devote more time to the large monocultures in and around the waterskiing track. The crew worked hard to lay 101 benthic barriers on the most dense areas. Hopefully this work will knock back the infestation in the northern end of the cove and reduce the spread from water sports activities. While we feel like this season was a success in its own right, we have a long way to go and need more land owners to invest (mentally and financially) in the fight against milfoil. A huge thank you to the landowners who believed in the cause and supported part of our work this summer, and especially to Joann Brown, Charlie McIntyre, and the Sebago Cove Association for extra help and dock space.

Patch of 101 (60,600 square feet) benthic barriers on the northern end of Sebago Cove

Northwest River: There has been milfoil in the Northwest River for years, and many land owners don’t see a problem with it. However, this is a public boat launch for Sebago Lake, a protected area for a marina, and many private landowners call this place their special spot! We have been working for several years to get huge monocultures of milfoil under some semblance of control here, and after laying almost 200 benthic barriers in 2021, we are feeling pretty confident things are starting to lean towards being more manageable. The river looked good after pulling the barriers at the beginning of this season. We spent the beginning of the summer harvesting and hand pulling until the crew ran out of work! A huge thank you to Lynn and Joe Borst for docking space, parking, and a general cheer squad welcome. While we were very successful this season, 2023 will require continued maintenance and harvesting to prevent it from returning to a large infestation.

Flowering variable leaf milfoil in the Northwest River in 2021

Frye Island: We’ve been visiting Frye Island for some time and have had such a positive experience with landowners there. Plus who doesn’t want to ride a ferry to work…? The infestation at Frye is looking really good compared to years past. Paul Walker who has been there every year said it just keeps getting better and better at the Marina and Quail Circle. Individuals are excited about us being there, engaged in milfoil removal and spreading the word- not the plant. Keep up the good work Frye Island residents and thank you Roxy!

This work requires long term thinking, making tough choices, and prioritization of goals. The past two years have been a great starting point with an infusion of funding into the milfoil program, but this funding is not indefinite. The 2023 season may look quite different with again fewer boats and crews. We will do our best to prioritize high needs areas like Sebago Cove and the Northwest River, and continue to survey Long Lake and monitor the Songo River. If you think you see milfoil in your area please send a photo and location to We cant do this without financial support from landowners, members, the Department of Environmental Protection, and funders- thank you for all your help!

Red stemmed variable leaf milfoil in the Northwest River

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