Boat launch idea floated for Canton lake

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CANTON — Leon Bucher, water access coordinator for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, told the Anasagunticook Dam Core Committee on Monday night that though a boat launch on the Canton lake was on his docket, so are 20 other launches across the state.

State biologist Francis Brautigam said he favored the site on Whitney Brook, just upstream from the proposed new dam site, because the ground is level, there’s enough room for parking and the town already owns the property.

 The property was acquired two years ago by eminent domain when it took over the dam.

Brautigam said the department had continued to stock the lake, even though there had been limited access due to low water. The temporary dam raised the level last summer so access down the brook was possible.

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 Committee Chairman Malcolm Ray said he thought this was a good use of the property as part of developing the entire three-plus acres on the brook for recreation.

 The town is waiting to hear about its request for a Community Development Block Grant for $500,000 to construct a dam. About $165,000 would still be needed. 

“In order for a boat ramp to move ahead, the first thing will be to get a clean bill of health from an environmental assessment and assurance that the funds are in place to complete the dam,” Bucher said.

 Representatives from Canton and Hartford were present for the discussion. Both towns have a vested interest in the dam as well as a boat launch because the lake lies in both towns.

Lake association President Biff Atwater said that having a public boat launch would also help keep out invasive plants as people are launching their boats all along the lake shore and this cannot be monitored.

He announced the association is ready to launch a campaign to raise the $165,000 needed for the dam construction, if the grant is awarded.  Hartford and Canton have contributed funds to get the dam process started.

 As far as the boat ramp goes, Bucher said, “We can’t make a commitment to this site until the environmental assessment is completed.”

 Ray said as soon as they hear from the grant, he will instruct the engineer to get on the assessment. Bucher said a boat launch is usually a two-year process.

 Brautigam said MDIFW was already on board. “Just line up the funds for the dam and get the environmental assessment,” he said.

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