OQUOSSOC – What is a watershed survey and what are the benefits of doing one? These questions were addressed by Shelby Rousseau, stewardship director for the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, at the Oct. 20 meeting of the Rangeley Region Guides’ and Sportsmen’s Association.

The purpose of a watershed survey is to protect water quality by identifying land uses that impact the water quality and the aquatic life. Although it is sometimes thought otherwise, sedimentation and excess nutrients in the water that negatively affect aquatic habitats are not largely the result of logging and woodcutting. Driveways, walkways and footpaths all have an effect as well.

Watershed surveys, Rousseau said, have been conducted previously on the Cupsuptic and Sunday rivers. At the request of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust is taking part in a survey of the Rapid River/Pond.

The Rapid River watershed survey will identify cold water seeps where brook trout and other aquatic species take refuge, determine the land use impact in those places and remedy any negative impact in order to promote a healthier aquatic environment. The watershed includes approximately 6,550 acres.

The trust, the owner of nearly all the lands adjacent to the Rapid River and Pond in the River, has been working with Jeff Stern, a watershed professional from Fiddlehead Environmental in Oxford, to conduct the survey.

As a committee member in the “Save the Rapid” Coalition, the trust recognizes the high profile the river has to anglers, biologists and regional camp owners. Funding for the survey is being provided by Florida Power and Light, the trust and other sources.

Don Palmer, association president, announced that the club is awaiting grant money, including donations from Orvis, to conduct a study on the Rapid River. The money will be used to study methods to redirect the flow of water to control the smallmouth bass so they won’t interfere with brook trout.

The club has laminated 50 signs warning of the dangers of the introduction of invasive plants in the waters. The signs will be posted throughout the area to continue to raise awareness of the threat.

The association will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, at the clubhouse in Old Skiway Road. A representative from Trout Unlimited will discuss its programs, such as a camp for youngsters, fly tying and stream stewardship.

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