LakeSmart Program

LakeSmart: Saving Our Lakes, One Shore at a Time from Maine Lakes Society

“It’s hard to believe one person’s expansive lawn or eroding camp road could be a threat to something as large and enduring as a lake. But it can when added to a shoreline full of similar sites.

All stormwater that gets into a lake carries nutrients. Over time, the cumulative impact can be thousands of pounds of pollutants. The result, “death by a thousand cuts,” means algae blooms, fish kills, and the loss of water clarity and spawning habitat. One tiny rivulet from one rainstorm may not seem like much, but when multiplied across a lake’s watershed and added up over decades, eroded soil can turn a lake into a smelly, pea green mess.”

– Maggie Shannon, Maine Lakes Society

What is LakeSmart?

LakeSmart is a free educational program for lakeside and pond-side homeowners who want to learn how to manage their home and yard to protect water quality. The program is administered by the Maine Lakes Society (MLS). In the Damariscotta-Pemaquid region, Coastal Rivers works with MLS to bring the LakeSmart Program to residents who live on Biscay, McCurdy, Pemaquid, Paradise (Muddy), Duckpuddle, or Muscongus (Webber) Pond.

Why LakeSmart?

Studies have shown that as water quality declines the value of shorefront property also decreases. Declining water quality also can affect the type and number of fish species that inhabit the lake and can hinder other recreational uses of the lake as well as the local economy. It benefits everyone to take whatever actions we can to protect lake water quality. The goal is to make lake-friendly land-use practices the norm throughout Maine.

>> GET STARTED


How does it work?

The LakeSmart program is designed to educate and to recognize watershed property owners who adopt and maintain responsible property management. A primary objective of the program is to teach landowners how to minimize the amount of phosphorous added to the pond, which is a key to preventing algal blooms.

Participating landowners receive a free evaluation of their property from certified volunteer evaluators. Evaluators look at road, driveway and parking areas; structures and septic systems; lawn, recreation areas and footpaths; shorefront and beach areas, and undeveloped land if any.

If the property meets established standards, the landowner receives an award certificate and a sign recognizing the property as being LakeSmart. At their permission, the names of the LakeSmart Award winners are published in newspapers and in association newsletters and web sites.

If a property does not initially meet the standard, the landowner is given recommendations and educational tools on how to solve the situations preventing the award. The landowner has the option to make modifications to meet the standard and be re-evaluated.

So far 38 property owners around the Pemaquid Peninsula have received the LakeSmart award and 10 property owners have received a commendation.

> Download a description of how the process works.

Debby and Mike Kane (center), who live adjacent to Paradise (Muddy) Pond, received the LakeSmart Award from LakeSmart volunteers, Peggy Drake (l) and Mary Berger (r).

Get LakeSmart Start!

Are you a homeowner interested in receiving a LakeSmart Award, but still might have some work to do?

In these “socially distant” times, we are developing ways to work with homeowners online. Through emails, photos, and virtual meetings using the “Zoom” platform, the Coastal Rivers trained coordinator and evaluators can make LakeSmart recommendations for your property. Following up on these recommendations can give you a head start for receiving an Award in 2021!

To learn more or to get started with LakeSmart Start, email Sarah Gladu.

LakeSmart Start images and graphic


Resources for lakeside and pondside residents

For more information on how to enhance your property’s value and live lightly on the land for the sake of your lake or pond, see:

  • LakeSmart Process Explains the steps to becoming LakeSmart, starting with contacting Coastal Rivers for an evaluation.
  • LakeSmart FAQs Got questions? We may have an answer here for you.
  • Coastal River’s brochure “Buffers: Your Lake’s Best Defense”
    Explains what buffers are, why they’re critical to a healthy lake environment and what you can do.
  • Lakes Like Less Lawn
    Whether you have lakefront property or live many feet from the lake, you can help protect lake water quality and make your property more beautiful and more valuable by making changes to your lawn.
  • Erosion Control for Homeowners
    Soil erosion costs Maine homeowners millions of dollars a year. Soil loss not only causes damage to roads and property but eventually finds its way to a lake, pond, river or stream. Here’s what you can do to control erosion.
  • Vegetated Phosphorus Buffer Strips
    Vegetated phosphorous buffer strips are areas of natural vegetation that have been left undisturbed or are replanted to naturally existing specifies.
  • Fertilizer Basics
    Individual lawns and planting beds may be small, but their total areas add up quickly. Misuse of fertilizer can harm the environment and injure landscape plants.
  • When Canada Geese Become a Pest: Options for Landowners
    While many people enjoy seeing Canada geese, problems can occur when too many geese concentrate in one area.

Shoreland Zoning Information

What you should know before you make changes on your shoreland

Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust is in no way involved in setting or enforcing regulations. This information is provided as an educational service. Please contact your town directly for the most current ordinances.

The “Shoreland Zone” is a legal term that refers to lands that lie within 250 feet of the high water line of great ponds and 75 feet of streams and wetlands. Lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams are sensitive to all human activities in their watersheds, but changes made within the Shoreland Zone have a disproportionate impact on these waterbodies.

In order to protect the health, benefits and value of these resources, Maine has established a minimum set of rules to guide what may, and may not, be done in the shorelands. This set of rules or regulations is known as the Shoreland Zoning Law. Most land uses within 250 feet of Maine’s rivers, wetlands, lakes, the ocean, and within 75 feet of certain streams are subject to the regulation of Maine’s Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act. The law protects water quality, limits erosion, conserves wildlife and vegetation, and preserves the natural beauty of Maine’s shoreland areas.

All municipalities must enact, administer and enforce a local shoreland ordinance. This local ordinance is required to be either as restrictive as or more restrictive than the state’s model ordinance.  Your local shoreland zoning ordinance sets the rules in your municipality.

Before you make landscape or building changes within the Shoreland Zone, check with your town office to see what is permitted in your municipality, and if permits are required for what you plan to do.

If you suspect a violation of the Shoreland Zoning Law or local ordinances has or is occurring on a lake, river, stream, or wetland, please contact the Code Enforcement Officer in your town and request that he or she assess the site in question.

Please contact your town office for the most current information on shoreland zoning.