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MLRC Partner Highlight: The BLA LakeSmart Program

For more than a century, the Belgrade Lakes Association has worked towards its mission to preserve the water quality of Great and Long ponds. As testament to that dedication, the BLA’s LakeSmart program is robust, having screened more than 300 properties around their two lakes in the past decade. LakeSmart, a volunteer-operated education program, offers shoreline property owners the opportunity to learn ways of minimizing their property’s impact the lake. To be “LakeSmart”, one must simply maintain their lakeside properties in a manner which mirrors nature and prevents stormwater runoff from entering the water.

A LakeSmart property on Great Pond in Rome, ME.

This past winter, the BLA engaged a nationally-known consultant, Ken Wagner, to report on the state of the Belgrade Lakes. Based upon the decades of data he reviewed, Wagner concluded that Great and Long ponds are at risk of reaching a tipping point where algal blooms could result. More data is required to fully understand the state of the lakes. In response, MLRC and its conservation partners are actively collecting more data this summer as part of the Water Quality Initiative. While the final outcome of those studies is not yet known, it is clear that everything must be done to prevent erosion and keep pollutants out of the lakes. The time for action is now.

In response to the threat of declining water quality in the Belgrade Lakes, the BLA screeners are stepping up their efforts. With a crew of 14 experienced volunteers, the BLA LakeSmart program is primed for an ambitious season. Despite the rainy weather, volunteers were present at the first Belgrade Lakes Market of the season, prepared to answer questions and sign up interested individuals for a property screening. The volunteers intend to be present for each market throughout the summer, rain or shine.

Other developments to the program this year include a partnership with the BRCA Youth Conservation Corps. Program Director, Nathan Durant has been trained as a LakeSmart screener so that he can better design BMPs (best management practices) to LakeSmart recommendations. YCC project sites on Great Pond and Long Pond will now be prescreened for LakeSmart as a part of the initial site evaluation process. Nathan and BLA LakeSmart volunteers are reaching out to local road associations to talk about their respective program’s new synergy.

To sign up for a screening or for more information about BLA LakeSmart, contact BLA LakeSmart Coordinator Logan Parker at lparker.mainelakes@gmail.com.