Naples survey ordinance helps catch milfoil

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — If it was not for the ordinance in Naples requiring all points of entry that have multiple boats launching into Long Lake to be surveyed for invasive plants, the milfoil off Birch Point might not have been caught.

(Birch Point is on the east end of Long Lake in the vicinity of the site of the former Bay of Naples Inn.)

Also, partly as a result of the milfoil growth found in Mast Cove last summer, Lakes Environmental Agency (LEA) divers were searching nearby areas, and found milfoil toward the island that had not been there previously.

LEA’s Milfoil Control Coordinator Christian Oren provided an update of the results of the Invasive Aquatic Plant Survey Ordinance that was adopted in Naples.

He spoke about the ordinance during the Naples Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday and also during an interview last week.

Following the discovery of milfoil in Long Lake last summer, the Town of Naples hosted a milfoil workshop which included local selectmen from Harrison and Bridgton.

Then, Naples’ law firm drafted an ordinance requiring invasive aquatic plants surveys to be done on Long Lake and Brandy Pond. A cost of $200 would be paid by the business, camp, marina or lake association.

“It was voted unanimously by townspeople to get major landowners and business people to help support the cost of managing it,” Oren said during the interview.

Oren said that Naples took a very proactive approach to protecting its water bodies.

“The education component has been great.

The awareness is good. We have a lot of people along Long Lake who have come forward with what they thought might be milfoil,” he said, adding people are “out on the water looking for these plants, knowing that milfoil would be a disaster for the lake.”

On Monday, Oren told the selectmen that the deadline of Aug. 15 had passed for the surveys to be done.

“There was a handful that never contacted us,” Oren said, adding he handed off that list of the town manager.

As of Wednesday, it was unclear if the other dock owners were in noncompliance or had contacted the town or another environmental agency rather than going through LEA.

According to the language of the Invasive Aquatic Plant Survey Ordinance, the fine for not doing a survey was up to $1,000. The fine is to be paid within 10 days of receiving a notice of violation. Refusal to pay the fine could result in a summons to appear in District Court.

The good news is: about a dozen multislip dock owners, including summer camps, and local marinas contacted and hired LEA to do the survey, Oren said.

Oren confirmed that milfoil had been found “on the east shore” off Long Lake “between Birch Point and Arrowhead Point.”

“We discovered it by doing these surveys,” he said. “The infestation in Mast Cove — we are getting a good handle on it. They discovered a lot more toward the island. The marina itself looks really good,” he added.

“There is not much more to be said. We caught it. If we weren’t doing this, we wouldn’t have found” the milfoil,” Oren told the board.

Chairman Jim Grattelo said the next move is to “get the towns of Harrison and Bridgton to do the same thing we are doing.”

Oren spoke about ways to improve the ordinance.

“I don’t know if we would do it the same way. Maybe, have a fee imposed on people who have a number of boats? It did require a lot of our time to organize surveys and contact people.” That additional layer of administrative efforts on LEA’s part could be supported through a fee, he said.

“It would be easier to have a fee imposed,” he said.

The chairman spoke.

“Let us know. This was a pilot program. For everyone, it was easy to throw out $200 to have it [the survey] done,” Grattelo said.

Selectman Bob Caron II said he had requested that the topic of the milfoil survey be on the agenda after he received “a couple calls from residents about finding more” milfoil on Long Lake.

“That patch was not there last year.” Oren said.

Caron said, “You have to monitor it going forward.”

Oren agreed.

According to the state, a milfoil outbreak “is not eradicated until you haven’t seen it for three years,” Oren said.

During a phone interview last week, Oren weighed in on the impact of the ordinance that was in effect this summer.

“It is working. I think it is a great first step in Naples. We would like to see something similar to this ordinance in surrounding towns,” he said.

“It is not hugely burdensome” on the businesses, camps and landowners with multiple-boat launches—the areas that do not have milfoil inspectors. “Most of the surveys run $200 dollars,” Oren said.

“I think the ordinance is working: 1.) for the awareness 2 we found a small patch of milfoil because of these surveys,” he said.

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