Local marinas helping protect lakes from invasive species

6 mins read

Steve Swain, at Dockside Marina, which he owns and operates.

Steve Swain has spent every summer of his 72 years renting boats and operating a marina at Samoset Camps on Rangeley Lake.

You might say he was born into the business – his grandfather was a Guide on Mooselook at the turn of the century and his father started renting Rangeley Boats from Samoset in the late 1920’s. Steve joined his father as a lad of 8, retrieving the rental boats from camps around Rangeley Lake and rowing new ones over from Town Cove. He fondly remembers hauling the boats out of the water each fall using his father’s team of draft horses, and teaching his sons how to prime a two-stroke motor.

So Steve, as the owner of Dockside Marina, knows firsthand the value of Rangeley’s lakes, their wild trout and their landlocked salmon – and he knows that the local economy would be devastated without them. Thus, it comes as no surprise that he is taking a number of effective measures to protect Rangeley Lake from invasive plants like Eurasian Watermilfoil and invaders like small mouth bass and Didymo (rock snot).

A few years ago he received and installed two launch signs provided by Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust (RLHT): the bright yellow “Clean Your Boat Before You Float” and the “Trouble by the Bucketful” signs. He also plugged the intake valves of all the live wells in his rental fleet and disconnected the live well water pumps. By disabling the live wells in such a manner he prevents water, plants, algae and fish from being transported from one lake to another.

This year all of his employees received Invasive Species and Boat Inspection training from RLHT. RLHT showed the Dockside staff how to inspect boats and trailers and taught them that prevention is the most cost-effective way to address invasive plants, fish, algae and mussels. RLHT also provided them with information about the “milfoil sticker” and taught them about the catastrophic costs of invasive species infestations. Finally RLHT showed them how to complete the Boat Inspection surveys that are used to collect data and to assess the threat from boats coming from infested water bodies throughout Maine, New England and the eastern seaboard.

To further insure the protection of Rangeley Lake, Steve installed a chain-link gate and padlock on his launch. Next to the gate is a prominent sign that says: “STOP: All Boats and Trailers Must Be Inspected for Invasive Aquatic Plants – Call office to set up Milfoil Inspection.”  The gate is especially effective in the spring when boaters, many of them from infested lakes, arrive as early as 4:30am. Now, instead of launching unchecked with potentially invasive cargo, each boat is inspected, regardless of the hour.

Every summer, the majority of Dockside’s rental boats stay right on Rangeley Lake. Occasionally though, they are rented to boaters who use them on other lakes in Maine and New Hampshire. To help insure none of these boats come back to Rangeley Lake with an invasive hitchhiker, Steve provides renters with an information packet assembled by RLHT and reviews them with the renters. When these boats and trailers return to Dockside, they are thoroughly inspected and washed a safe distance from the water. The hollow trailer rails, the propellers, and the SeaDoo jet pumps receive extra special attention as they make great hideouts for plants.

Fortunately for local residents and visitors, Dockside Marina and RLHT have been joined in the effort by several other marinas as well as a host of volunteers, RLHT members, the Town, and the Plantations. The employees of Saddleback Marina in Oquossoc received training from RLHT in June and the company is currently distributing educational materials at the marina and at its welcome center on Main Street. In addition, the marina is working to develop inspection signage for its launch. Finally it is working with RLHT to collect water quality and temperature data on Rangeley Lake.

The new owners of the Haines Landing Marina on Mooselookmeguntic have also have expressed a desire to receive the Boat Inspection training. With the Marina staffed 24 hours a day, the Haines Marina staff will be in a great position to help protect the lake from invasives. And several years ago the Lakeside Marina in Town Cove received boat inspection training.

Invasive aquatic species have the potential to devastate nearly every facet of the Rangeley economy and way of life. That is why every member of the community is needed to fend off these aggressive invaders. If you would like to join in the effort as a RLHT Boat Inspector or a Shoreline Patroller or if you would like to make a donation to RLHT’s Invasive Species Program, please call Rebecca Kurtz at 864-7311 (ext. 5). Or email her at rkurtz@rlht.org to learn more about how you can help.

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