RANGELEY – The Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust Courtesy Boat Inspection program saw significant usage this year with nearly 1,700 boaters participating.
Since 2002, RLHT has diligently checked more than 20,000 boats for aquatic hitchhikers like milfoil and zebra mussels. Boat inspectors man public boat launches in the region, focusing efforts in high traffic public boat launches, like the Town Park public boat launch on Rangeley Lake and Mill Brook PBL on Richardson Lake from ice-out in May to the end of September.
The purpose of the Courtesy Boat Inspection program is threefold: to educate the public of threat aquatic invaders pose, to educate boaters on how to inspect their recreational equipment and lastly, to get boaters to instinctively inspect their boats when entering and exiting a water body. During an inspection, boats, trailers and gear are looked over for plant fragments while boaters are offered educational information. Boaters are often aware of the threat that milfoil and other invaders can pose to our water bodies.
Support for the Courtesy Boat Inspector program annually comes from the voters of local municipalities, private donations, and grants from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Brookfield Renewable Energy.
It only takes one plant fragment on one boat for an infestation to take hold on a lake. Once established, there is no native predator in to slow its progress and it grows at an expediential rate, rapidly taking over shorelines making the area unsuitable for swimming or fishing.
Each of us enjoys the natural beauty of the waters of our region. One person can make a difference; please report any unusual plants growing in your water body to RLHT at (207) 864-7311 or the Maine Volunteering Lake Monitoring Program at VLMP.org.