Pictured is an example of a richly vegetated shoreline which acts as a “buffer” to protect the shore from erosion, and filters harmful nutrients from storm water runoff. Michele Windsor photo

NORWAY — The Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) wants to help lakes and ponds stay clean and clear by helping shoreline property owners understand the role that vegetation “buffers” play in protecting the water from storm water runoff, which can carry pollutants. To do that, the district will host two workshops in August.

Healthy shoreline buffers are key to programs and projects done by the Conservation District: The LakeSmart Program and the North Pond Watershed Protection Project. Both center around efforts to reduce nonpoint source (NPS) pollution entering lakes. NPS pollution is another name for storm water runoff that carries sediment, nutrients and pollutants from the land into bodies of water.

The LakeSmart Program is run by the Maine Lakes Society and is an education program and an incentive program. It provides educational information about ways to deal with runoff and awards to those who improve their properties and manage it to protect the lake.

The Watershed Protection Project on North Pond in Norway is funded by Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. It is coordinated by the OCSWCD in partnership with the Lakes Association of Norway, the Androscoggin River Watershed Council and the Town of Norway, and is overseen by Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The project provides 50/50 mini grants of up to $350 to residents to reduce erosion and runoff on their properties.

In support of LakeSmart and the North Pond Watershed Protection Projects, OCSWCD will hold two workshops on “All About Buffers: Planting Greenery for Cleaner Water” on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 17 and 18.

The district will have a presentation at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, at Howard Pond in Hanover, sponsored by the Howard Pond Association, a LakeSmart program participating lake. At 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, there will be a presentation at North Pond in Norway, sponsored by the Lakes Association of Norway. The presentations will provide information about the function and importance of buffers, retaining natural vegetation and enhancing or creating an effective buffer. Plant selection for various site conditions and exposures, as well as sources of planting material, will be covered.

The presentations are free and open to anyone who is interested. The district requests that people planning to attend either workshop register by calling Michele Windsor at 207-744-3111. Details on the meeting locations can be found at www.oxfordcountyswcd.org.

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