RANGELEY – For the second year in a row, the Rangeley Lake State Park staff will conduct courtesy boat inspections to help protect the lakes and ponds from invasive plants and fish. Part of the team coordinated by Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, the staff will inspect boats when volunteer and paid inspectors are not at the park launch.

Four staff members attended training presented by program coordinator Rebecca Kurtz.

They learned about the economic and ecological costs of invasive plants, the 26 documented infestations in Maine (up from 19 last year) and how to conduct an inspection. They also learned that Florida and New York are spending up to $20 million a year to slow the rate at which invasive plants are taking over their lakes.

The staff also learned about invasive fish and how they threaten the Rangeley region. Illegally introduced small mouth bass are threatening the brook trout fishery in the Rapid River. If they migrate they will ultimately destroy the fisheries in the Richardson’s, Mooselookmeguntic and Rangeley Lake.

Similarly, invasive northern pike, small and large mouth bass and black crappie are threatening fisheries in other parts of the state.

To help educate boaters, they will distribute brochures on invasive fish and tell them about the impacts and penalties associated with illegal fish introductions.

The goal of a boat and gear inspection is to remove all aquatic plants and fragments and put them in the trash. Plants can be found anywhere in or on a boat and its gear, but especially on propellers, license plate holders, suspension springs and shackles, rollers or “bunks” that support the boat, anchor lines, bait boxes, fish hooks and tackle boxes

The park staff will sell lake and river protection stickers and distribute educational brochures.

Those who would like more information on the program or would like to volunteer should contact Kurtz at 864-7311, ext. 5.

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