NORWAY — The Lakes Association of Norway believes it is only a matter of time before dreaded invasive milfoil finds its way into Lake Pennesseewassee.

The group is ready to pay people to be on the prowl and to destroy the aquatic plants before they destroy the water.

“We feel we are on borrowed time,” said Sal Girifalco, a homeowner on North Pond and president of the Lakes Association of Norway.

Milfoils are rooted, submerged aquatic plants found naturally in lakes and streams. Five varieties are native to Maine and are part of the natural lake ecosystem. Two nonnative milfoils threaten the quality of Maine’s fresh waters.

In 2014, an invasive aquatic species survey was completed for the four Norway lakes: Sandy Pond, Hobbs Pond (Little Pennesseewassee), North Pond and Lake Pennesseewassee (Norway Lake). With the exception of Chinese mystery snails, which association members say have been observed for a number of years in all but Sandy Pond, no aquatic invaders have been detected.

But despite the clean slate, the two nonnative plants have been found as close as Lake Thompson and Hogan Pond in Oxford and Pleasant Lake in Otisfield and Casco, Shagg Pond and Brandy Pond in Woodstock, among others, according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Land and Water Quality.

The state agency said the invasive plant first appeared in Thompson Lake around 1975 and in Shagg Pond in 2003.

The voluntary Courtesy Boat Inspection Program has existed since 2000 to help combat the spread of milfoil, which can be picked up on a boat in one lake and transferred to another. The boat inspection program is working, officials say. Thompson Lake, for example, had six saves last summer when inspectors discovered variable-leaf milfoil on boats leaving the lake, according to the Maine DEP.

Girifalco said the time has come to ensure as best they can that Norway’s water remains clear of the infestation.

Girifalco met with the selectmen last week to get their blessing on a plan that would pay for three part-time boat inspectors on Lake Pennesseewasee. The association will hire and pay for the inspectors, but the paychecks will be processed through the town.

Girifalco said recreation and tourism on Maine’s lakes brings in more than $2 billion a year. Lake Pennesseewassee is open to the public and draws thousands to Norway each year.

“Everyone has a stake,” Girifalco told the board.

The association will hire part-time boat inspectors from early May until late September. Anyone who is interested should email the group at [email protected], write to Lakes Association of Norway, P.O. Box 505, Norway, ME 04268 or call 743-1808.

[email protected]

 


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