AUBURN – The Stanton Bird Club will offer a program on the health of local waterways at 7 tonight at the High Street Congregational Church.

Roberta Hill, aquatic ecologist, environmental educator and program director for the Maine Center for Invasive Aquatic Plants, will present an overview of a “uniquely Maine” environmental success story, offering a glimpse into the role volunteers play in the protection of Maine’s lakes and ponds.

The Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, formed in the early 1970s, is believed to be the longest-standing citizen lake monitoring program in the U.S., also one of the largest.

The program has been swift to adapt to new threats to Maine’s lakes and ponds, and for the past several years it has led the statewide effort to inform the public about the threat of invasive aquatic species.

The program formed the Maine Center for Invasive Aquatic Plants, and since then more than 1,500 volunteers have trained to identify invasive aquatic plants, including the milfoils.

Volunteer “plant patrollers” represent Maine’s best hope for identifying lakes and ponds that have been infested with aquatic invaders.

Through the generosity of residents, the Auburn Water District and others, the program recently found a permanent home on the shore of Lake Auburn: the Woodbury Brackett Environmental Center, a homestead converted to visitor center and office space.

Outreach carries beyond the boundaries of the center, with volunteers acting as technical resources and lake protection “ambassadors” for their watershed communities and schools.

In 2005, the program became the first nonprofit environmental organization to receive the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence.

The Stanton Bird Club is a conservation organization offering monthly natural history programs and field trips throughout the state free. The club welcomes new members whose dues help to provide land stewardship at three sanctuaries owned and managed by the club in Lewiston and Monmouth. For more information, call 782-5238 or visit www.avcnet.org/stanton.


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