Grant to tackle Woods Pond’s erosion

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

A major soil erosion project is in store for the Woods Pond Watershed, one that will reduce annual soil loading to the lake by around 45 tons by attacking the highest priority erosion sites.

Barry DeNofrio of the Wildwood Road Association told the Bridgton Board of Selectmen Dec. 10 that the work will begin next spring to correct the problem sites. The Lakes Environment Association, acting as lead partner in the two-year project, received word recently that it has been awarded a $60,000 grant through the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The DEP grant will be matched by $42,810 from local sources, including both cash and “in-kind” donations, for a total project cost of $102,810. The grant project allows the Lakes Environmental Association to share the costs of implementing erosion control efforts with the town of Bridgton, summer youth camps, private road associations and property owners in the Woods Pond Watershed.

“It will give us a good program to fix some of the problems there,” he said. “It certainly is good news.”

DeNofrio said the town needn’t worry it will be asked to contribute more beyond the $2,000 voters approved at Town Meeting last June, along with the $4,000 of in-kind services that the Bridgton Public Works Department has agreed to provide.

“There’s nothing more that the town has to contribute” under this Phase 1 “high priority” portion of the Woods Pond Watershed Improvement Project, which runs for two years, DeNofrio said. Since the vast majority of the overall project will be spent within Bridgton’s boundaries, “the town of Bridgton’s investment of $6,000 will be multiplied more than 17 times.”

DeNofrio said he couldn’t say what help might be needed for a future Phase 2 project, which would be needed to tackle the remaining medium priority sites, plus new problems that might arise.

Public Works crews will be focusing their erosion control efforts on the town portion of Wildwood Road, where it crosses Sucker Brook. This area was identified in the 2012 watershed survey as a critical source of erosion, and the work will involve construction of roadside berms, reshaping of shoulders, lining ditches with stone and installing plunge pools.

In a fact sheet on the project provided by Jeff Stern, who owns and operates Fiddlehead Environmental Consulting in Harrison (which provides grant writing services, water testing and erosion control assistance to towns, lake and river associations and nonprofit organizations), the work is critical in preventing algae growth on the pond.

“Long-term water testing by LEA indicated that Woods Pond is increasingly at risk” of an algae bloom, which would cause drastic declines in lakeshore property values,” said Stern, who coordinated the 2012 Woods Pond Watershed survey (his family has owned a camp on Woods Pond since 1977). The fact sheet estimated that the Phase 1 work will abate 75% of the soil loading that was identified in the watershed survey.

The grant will also allow LEA to offer technical assistance to residents, summer youth camps and private road associations related to erosion control work on their properties. Such assistance might include advice on shoreline buffer plantings, road maintenance or updates on local Shoreland Zoning regulations. A local steering committee will be formed to guide project activities.

Bridgton is one of seven partners in the project, along with the Portland Water District, the Woods Pond Water Quality Committee, Wildwood Road Association, Woods Lake Association, Camp Wildwood and Camp Kingswood. The Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District will assist in delivering grant services and provide engineering where needed.

A separate grant will be applied for after the two-year life of this project is over to address the remaining medium priority sites.

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