RANGELEY — Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust wrapped up the Courtesy Boat Inspection program with the close of fishing season in the Rangeley Lakes Region. This year was highly successful, with nearly 1,700 boaters participating in the program, a few boats more than the previous year.

Since 2002, RLHT has diligently checked boats over 25,000 boats for aquatic hitchhikers, like milfoil. Paid and volunteer inspectors have been focusing their efforts in high traffic public boat launches.

The Courtesy Boat Inspection program purpose is threefold: to educate the public of threat aquatic invaders pose; to educate boaters on how to inspect their recreational equipment; and to change the behavior of recreationalist to instinctively inspect their boats when entering and exiting a water body.

It only takes one plant fragment on one boat for an infestation to take hold on a lake. Once established, there is no native predator to slow its progress and it grows at an expediential rate, rapidly taking over shorelines making the area unsuitable for swimming or fishing.

Support for the Courtesy Boat Inspector program annually comes from the voters of Rangeley, Rangeley Plantation, Dallas Plantation and Sandy River Plantations, along with private donations, and grants from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Brookfield Renewable Energy.

Folks should be reporting any unusual plants growing in their water body to RLHT at 207-864-7311 or the Maine Volunteering Lake Monitoring Program at VLMP.org.

A Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust courtesy boat inspector checks for plants at Rangeley’s town dock.

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