WILTON — Wilton is known for many beautiful locations that attract visitors from all over, but one place that holds a special place in its residents’ hearts is Wilson Lake. Known for its radiant beauty, Wilson Lake keeps its luster thanks in part to Friends of Wilson Lake [FOWL].

Founded in 1989, FOWL’s mission statement has always been “to preserve and protect the aesthetic qualities, the recreational value, and the purity of the water of Wilson Lake in Wilton, Maine, and its watershed.”

“It’s kind of a funny story,” Vice President Robert Lively said about FOWL’s formation. “What’s now called the recycling center, it used to be the Wilton dump. People just went and dumped their garbage out in this big pile and that attracted seagulls. So, the seagulls would eat there during the day then they would come here to the lake in the evening.”

Lively would go on to elaborate that the seagulls and their waste caused concern over the quality of the lake, which is what led to the initial formation of FOWL. “Since then, the dump part of the recycling center has been closed, so the seagulls are gone. But their legacy lives on because we are concerned about the water quality,” Lively added.

FOWL’s legacy goes far beyond seagulls. Since their formation, they have received multiple awards for their contributions to the care of Wilson Lake.

Most recently, they received the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce 2022 Community Service Award at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting held in Farmington on Oct. 18.


Furthermore, founder and board member Mary Ryan was featured in a special issue of DownEast magazine, 70 over 70. The issue features 70 individuals over the age of 70 who are doing extraordinary things, and Mary Ryan was featured among them for her work protecting the quality of Wilson Lake.

President Sandra Muller and Vice-President and Treasurer Wynn Muller were selected as “Clean Water Champions” by the Natural Resources Council of Maine for their efforts of protecting the water in Wilson Lake.

Currently, FOWL has programs put into place to keep the quality of the lake in check. One program involves keeping invasive plants from entering the lake. FOWL’s primary strategy is prevention through boat inspections. A legislative bill passed in 2000 requires boats on inland waters to have an inspection sticker displayed on their boat.

According to their May 2022 Newsletter, FOWL started inspecting boats in 2003 and have inspected well over 900 boats per year over the past four years.

In the same newsletter, FOWL also highlights their efforts to keep algal blooms in check. Algal blooms, as described in the newsletter, generally refer to rapid growth of microscopic unicellular algae. They can be harmful and aesthetically unpleasing to swimmers, fishers, and boaters.

To combat algal blooms, the organization turned to the LakeSmart program. According to Lakes.me, LakeSmart is an education and outreach program that rewards lakefront homeowners who manage their land to protect water quality. The program is free, non-regulatory, and voluntary.


Lively reported to the Wilton Board of Selectpersons that 40% of shoreline properties are in LakeSmart.

Moving forward, FOWL is working in collaboration with Mt. Blue Community Access TV to produce a documentary about Wilson Lake.

Executive Director of MBTV Andre Cormier approached FOWL with the idea. “He said, ‘you know what would be really neat’,” Lively said. “’Why don’t we do a documentary on Wilson Lake.’”

Lively went on to elaborate what the documentary would include. “We have reviewed historical pictures through the Wilton Historical Society, of the lake and of people enjoying the lake. We’re doing interviews with people who are sharing stories about the lake,” he said.

No released date has been confirmed yet, but Lively is enthusiastic about the project.

“It’ll be historical, it’ll be informative, and it’ll be educational because the goal, of course, is people will become encouraged to keep up the good work of keeping [Wilson Lake] healthy and clean,” Lively stated.

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