Long Lake hit with milfoil outbreak

MILFOIL REARS ITS UGLY HEAD in Long Lake, as shown here by Christian Oren, who is the milfoil control coordinator at Lakes Environmental Association. (Photo by Mary Jewett, LEA educator and naturalist)

NAPLES — Long Lake is no longer safe from milfoil.

The Lakes Environmental Association and Maine Department of Environmental Protection have identified variable leaf milfoil growing in Long Lake.

Long Lake had previously been thought to be safe from this invasive aquatic plant, but substantial growth has been found in Mast Cove in Naples.

Variable leaf milfoil has the potential to occupy large areas of Long Lake because the water body is relatively shallow with many coves; perfect for milfoil growth. This invasive plant grows and spreads incredibly quickly. Any fragment larger than an inch can re-root and become a new infestation. Milfoil grows to the surface, and then spreads out in mats dense enough to prevent recreation and boating. The concern is that milfoil will quickly spread across Long Lake if not contained. A few years ago, a survey showed no milfoil in the cove, however half an acre is now choked by the weed.

Long Lake has been protected from milfoil for years despite its connection to Brandy Pond and the Songo River, which have serious, but controlled infestations. Milfoil had grown up to the bridge over Route 302, which separates Long Lake from Brandy Pond.

Hard work by the Lakes Environmental Association Milfoil Control Team brought the Brandy Pond and Songo River infestations under control, and prevented fragments from reaching Long Lake.

LEA also posts Courtesy Boat Inspectors to prevent the introduction of invasive plants like milfoil at the three public launch sites on Long Lake.

However, there are numerous private access points that would be impossible to staff throughout the summer. A small private boat launch at the heart of this new infestation is the prime suspect for introducing this variable leaf milfoil, possibly from out-of-state boats.

LEA is acting quickly to attempt to control the new infestation before it can spread any further around Long Lake. LEA’s Milfoil Control Team brought their Diver Assisted Suction Harvester to the site on Monday to start eradication work. This is the same veteran crew that successfully controlled variable milfoil on the Songo River, so hopes are high that management will be successful.

Surveys are also planned for the southern portion of Long Lake. Early detection is key to preventing any additional plants from developing into large patches that are difficult to control.

Volunteers are needed for this survey! The first survey is planned next Tuesday, Aug. 15 with a rain date of Thursday, Aug. 17. Contact mary@leamaine.org if you would like to help out.

Until then, LEA advises boaters to stay out of Mast Cove, remove and dispose of any plant fragments, and to contact LEA at 647-8580 if they see any suspicious plants.

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