Ordinance requires milfoil survey of Naples docks

 

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Elected public officials here understand the importance that should be placed on water quality.

After all, tourists expect to find pristine lakes and ponds when they visit Maine. Waterfront property owners want to live near clean lakes.

The introduction of an invasive aquatic species such as variable leaf milfoil can quickly put water quality in jeopardy.

Last week, the Naples Board of Selectmen backed a proposed ordinance designed to battle milfoil. It has been accepted as a warrant article at the 2018 Town Meeting. So, it will be up to the voters to approve or reject the Invasive Aquatic Plant Survey Ordinance.

This ordinance expands on the concept of boat inspections and would require that all public boat launches and docks that are used by six or more motorized boats be inspected for invasive aquatic plants as well. Proof of these annual inspections must be filed with the town office. The big catch is that a fine is attached to noncompliance to this ordinance. A fine of up to $1,000 will be charged to violators, and is due within 10 days of the notice of violation.

The chairman of the Naples board said the town should set an example, “lead the charge” for other towns in protecting their lakes.

Essentially, the ordinance would legitimize the inspections of the public boat launches and boat docking facilities.

The town will be sending letters to the marinas, campgrounds, summer camps, and beach associations with more than six boats, informing them of the proposed ordinance and its requirements.

Although the original draft of the ordinance limited the dock inspections to Long Lake only, the selectmen voted to also include Brandy Pond.

According to Lakes Environmental Association (LEA) Executive Director Colin Holme, “this ordinance came out of a request of the selectboard based on the finding of variable leaf milfoil in Long Lake by Four Seasons Campground.”

The discovery of milfoil by the campground’s dock in the Mast Cove area of Long Lake happened in August 2017.

The ordinance would require that the owners of all boat launches and boat docking facilities “obtain an annual plant survey from a certified party,” according to the ordinance language. The annual inspection would be done between June 15 and August 15.

“On Long Lake, there are around 12 [boat launches and/or docking facilities] that we have identified,” Holme said.

“This would require an annual inspection by someone qualified to look for invasive plants at a docking facility or boat launch,” he said.

He explained the language of the ordinance, which would require the certified party to be trained by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) or through a course offered by LEA.

“It cannot be anyone there saying, ‘There aren’t any plants here that are invasive,’ ” he said.

Holme told the selectmen that the proposed ordinance “came from the meeting that we had with Harrison, Naples and Bridgton selectmen. The idea was to craft an ordinance for Long Lake. As you well know, [Naples] cannot create laws in Harrison or Bridgton.”

So, the next step in protecting Long Lake is: “To get Bridgton and Harrison to adopt this ordinance or one that is similar,” he said.

One of the selectmen asked why LEA chose Long Lake and did not include Brandy Pond.

“Long Lake is a good place to start,” Holme said. “Brandy Pond has milfoil still. We remove it on a regular basis. Long Lake — previously until last summer — there was no milfoil in it.”

“I would be in favor of changing the wording if the selectmen wanted,” he said.

Chairman Jim Grattelo kicked around the idea of adding Brandy Pond, saying it would be unfair to marinas in Naples if only those on Long Lake were obligated to do annual plant surveys.

Grattelo asked how many boat launches there are on Brandy Pond.

Holme answered, “Seven on Brandy Pond. A lot of those places are associations.”

Grattelo spoke addressing two topics — the cost to owners of boat launches and docks, and also the urgency of making inspections mandatory.

“If I remember this should cost less than $100,” he said. “The whole purpose is to do it this year,” he said.

Selectman Bob Caron II said, “I have been boating on Brandy Pond enough to see these.”

Caron said there were probably more than seven areas where multiple boats are launched. He was also advocating for the protection of Brandy Pond by including it in the ordinance.

Grattelo said that that night the board was accepting the ordinance as a warrant article. Once it is approved at the town meeting, other bodies of water could be added to the ordinance at a later date, he said.

Then, Grattelo said it would be a good idea to add Brandy Pond to the proposed ordinance.

“We should send a message to lead the charge,” Grattelo said.

Selectman Jim Turpin asked, “What will be the mechanism to prompt these folks to get inspections done?”

Grattelo said, “We’ll send a letter. We will attach the new ordinance.”

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