Combatting invasives through Courtesy Boat Inspections

Combatting invasives through Courtesy Boat Inspections

An ounce of prevention

Aquatic invasive plants are very good at spreading from one fresh water body to another by “hitchhiking” on boats and trailers. And they are considered “invasive” for a reason. Just a small piece of milfoil, for example, can spread throughout an entire lake or pond.

Once these plants are established, they are almost impossible to remove. They spread rapidly and form dense mats near the surface of the water, blocking sunlight, crowding out native plants, and creating poor habitat for fish, diving birds, and other forms of wildlife. Not to mention getting in the way of swimming and boating.

Needless to say, this can be a very costly problem. Attempting to control invasives through mechanical or chemical means can cost between $200 and $2000 per lake-acre each year. In Vermont, it’s been calculated that invasive aquatic plants can cost over $12,000 in lost property values, per property, on infested lakes. (From the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.) In light of these costs, prevention seems like a sound investment.

In an effort to prevent these harmful plants from being introduced to our lakes and ponds, Coastal Rivers participates in the Courtesy Boat Inspection (CBI) program.

In a normal year, this program would be run by volunteers who take shifts at area boat ramps, educating boaters about invasive aquatic plants and inspecting boats and trailers for these unwanted “hitchhikers.”

This summer, to avoid asking our volunteers to place themselves at risk, we have hired an intern, Lulu Linkas, to serve as Courtesy Boat Inspector at the Pemaquid Pond boat launch in Nobleboro. Lulu is carefully following safety protocols established by CBI.

Lulu is also a wonderful summer addition to our team. Though still in high school, she arrived at our doorstep with an impressive resume of interesting experiences and goals.

When asked to tell us a little about herself she shared, “I have spent many summers on the coast of Maine – scuba diving (she is certified), fishing, sailing, kayaking, canoeing and backpacking . And I have a passion for environmental studies.” She has volunteered a couple times at the Bristol Mills fish ladder counting and recording alewives.

She went to elaborate, “I am especially interested in GIS technologies and anything to do with Maine ecosystems and technology. I know a bit about ecology and environmental studies from my schools science curriculum, and plan on furthering this knowledge with an Ecology and AP Environmental Science classes next year. Before the pandemic, I had an internship with Terra Remote sensing and was especially interested in learning about GIS technologies in a Marine setting. The company studies the ocean floor in remote areas of British Columbia. Overall, I am really interested in anything to do with Maine ecosystems.”

You can find Lulu most weekends inspecting boats and trailers, removing plants, and providing education to boat owners about potential invasive “hitchhikers” that might find their way into local waters via boats, trailers or fishing gear where they can do great harm to the ecosystem. We are very glad to have Lulu on the lookout!

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