WILTON — About 50 Friends of Wilson Lake gathered Sunday for an annual meeting at Kineowatha Park.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the organization. Its 250 members take an active interest in the water quality and future of Wilson Lake, President Wynn Muller said.

In the summer of 1989, the water level dropped drastically after the dam gate was left open over the Fourth of July holiday. As usual, the water level got worse in August, he said.

Concerned about the town’s No. 1 natural resource, some people got together to form the Wilson Lake Association, he said.

They found they couldn’t use that name. The state said another organization already had it, so the Friends of Wilson Lake, known as FOWL, came to life. The group incorporated in 1989 and held the first meeting in March 1990, Muller said.

Since then the group, comprised of both lake property owners and town residents, have accomplished a number of activities to preserve the lake for everyone. 

Accomplishments include Gold LakeSmart status, which recognizes the large number of homes on the lake that are maintained in a lake-friendly manner. The state provides free inspections. The inspectors make recommendations of what lake property owners can do to improve their properties and continue as good stewards of the lake, he said.

FOWL provides students to monitor boats entering Wilson Lake on weekends during the summer. They check for milfoil and other invasive plants, he said.

The group started a loon program for students at Academy Hill School in Wilton after a baby loon was lost at Kineowatha Park when children chased it on the beach, he said.

Muller questioned the cause because loons don’t usually go onto the beach, but members thought a program would help children learn about loons and how fragile they are, he said.

They sought passage of a boat ordinance for the town in 2004 when one resident wanted to put a houseboat on the lake. Residents were concerned about gray water being dumped into the lake. The ordinance allows houseboats, but they have to come off the lake for owners to clean out sewage and the gray water tank, he said.

The group purchased a “doggy potty” which provides bags for owners to pick up their dog waste and a fishing line dispenser at the boat launch. They help furnish a portable toilet for swimmers at the foot of the lake and another at the boat launch.

Members test the water quality of the lake every two weeks and were involved in a septic and watershed survey of the area, he said. They co-sponsored a presentation on the lake’s water quality by students at the University of Maine at Farmington.

They provide an annual scholarship for a Mt. Blue High School senior and sold more than 1,000 of their own cookbooks. Over the years, they have put plantings and benches at the foot of the lake and have given free boat rides during the Blueberry Festival, among other things, he said.

The organization re-elected Muller as president, Rob Lively as vice president, Martie Martin as treasurer and Susan Atwood as secretary. Board members include Mary Ryan, Sharon Rainey, Jen McEntee, Martha Lively, Judy Landry, Holly Windle, Lyn Jellison and Justy Nazar. Tony McLaughlin left the board after eight years and was recognized for his efforts.

A new website, www.friendsofwilsonlake.org, was introduced, and Susan Atwood was recognized for her work in developing the site.

Membership in FOWL is open to all who are interested in maintaining Wilson Lake. The group has actively pursued town and non-lake residents as members. 

“The lake is a benefit for all of us,” Muller said.

Membership is $12 per family. For more information, call 645-3716 or visit the website or Facebook.

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