Milfoil outbreak prompts workshop

Milfoil infestation

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Local elected officials have had milfoil on the brain.

It has been the topic during the Naples Board of Selectmen meetings for the past several weeks. And, after the meetings, milfoil has been the center of conversations with lakefront residents.

Milfoil will be the subject matter during a special workshop on Monday.

The workshop starts at 6:30 p.m. (note the time change previously listed in our print edition as 6 p.m.), one hour before the board’s regular Monday meeting. The public is invited to attend. However, public comment will not be heard until after the workshop.

“The public is welcome to attend and after the workshop we will open it up for public comment,” Chairman Jim Grattelo said. “The public cannot participate in the workshop,” he said.

A variable leaf milfoil breakout at Mast Cove in Long Lake necessitated the milfoil workshop in the eyes of the selectmen. Many board members have studied the photos of the milfoil growth, which Lakes Environmental Association (LEA) estimates could be four years old. Mast Cove is part of a privately-owned campground.

For the upcoming workshop, the Town of Naples has extended invitations to the towns of Harrison and Bridgton. As of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, those town officials had not responded, according to Town Secretary Kate Matthews.

LEA Assistant Director Colin Holme will be on hand, accompanied by John McPhedram, of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

“I was invited to come in. I assume we will be talking about long-term planning,” Holme said.

Members of the Naples Board had hoped the town could assist by asking the boat owners to move their marine vessels away from the dock so LEA could more effectively and easily place mats on the floor of the lake and kill off the milfoil.

However, Holme is not sure the town has that authority.

“I don’t think they can. The town can’t say we need you to move the boat unless it was part of their permitting when they permitted the dock.

“The only thing would be a surface use restriction. LEA discussed it with DEP when the infestation was first discovered on Long Lake,” Holme said. “First, we would have to argue for the surface use restriction. We would have to get it and to implement it.”

“A lot of the boats are owned by people who aren’t there,” Holme said. “Although we really want the boats out of there, we aren’t sure it is possible” to force the removal of the vessels, he said.

The Maine Court ruling regarding moorings indicated that the water belongs to the State of Maine. However, the dock in the water is private property as well as the boats tied there.

“We have worked around the boats but it is difficult. We have been working around the boats and around the dock. We’ve made good progress,” Holme said, adding that LEA staff plan to continue the milfoil eradication at Mast Cove.

Naples Chairman Jim Grattelo said he hopes the workshop’s guests can answer whether or not the town has the power to have boats removed or if the town has to ask nicely.

“We want to know what authority the town would have to move the boats so LEA can do its job. The water is under the jurisdiction of the State of Maine. The town would like to ask for the boat to be removed so LEA can put a blanket on the milfoil growing there,” Grattelo said.

More than once Selectman Bob Caron II has said the milfoil growth and the fact no one reported it sooner are topics that raise his blood pressure.

“Our goal is that everyone would see this is serious. This could affect the entire lake, it could affect other communities also,” Caron said.

He said that in addition to Naples, the towns of Harrison and Bridgton should get on board because Long Lake is located in all three towns.

“I am hoping that we can stress to the business that it is important. We need to move boats so that LEA can do its job,” he said. “That is the short-term goal.”

“This milfoil has been there for four to five years. That is something they [campground owners or boat owners] should have reported. Unfortunately, it went unchecked for a long time,” Caron said.

“Long-term, the town should pass an ordinance for private campgrounds on the lakes to do milfoil inspections,” Caron said.

“I hate to see that. You don’t want more rules, more laws. You would hope the businesses would do this on their own, since they know what milfoil is capable of doing to a body of water,” Caron said.

“The lake is their livelihoods, and milfoil could ruin that,” he said. “It is here. We have to deal with it, hopefully sooner than later.”

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