Message from Karen Hall, FLA President & Newsletter Editor
I’m sitting at my computer this morning, scrambling to finish up the summer supplement newsletter (which was supposed to go out six days ago!) and sweating like crazy in this 90-degree heat. This has been a busy year for the FLA board members, so scrambling and sweating are par for the course. If you attend the annual meeting on July 17, you’ll get a full update on board and association activities. You’ll also get a chance to bid on some fabulous pies at the auction.
The issue of greatest concern to the board (and to all lake-dwellers) is still our population of native milfoils. At our spring inspection, we saw a lot of plant die-back, so we thought we were looking pretty good. Now, however, we’re seeing a lot of new growth emerging from the dead plants. Included in this newsletter issue is a copy of the updated depths map for the lake (many thanks to Jim Gameros for his depth-finder work). Please take some time to read the accompanying text to learn what you should know about milfoil, plant surveys, and littoral zones. Please also talk about this stuff with your neighbors. A friend of mine was at Allen’s last week, getting his usual cup of morning coffee, and he stepped into a heated discussion of the “milfoil issue” on Forest Lake. He’s a very reliable guy, and what he reported back to me was pretty disturbing…. Apparently the coffee talk that morning was that the lake association board had their heads up their proverbial you-know-whats and that the plants in the lake were NOT milfoil and that this particular group of fishermen were going to drive their boats right through the areas marked off with buoys and do their fishing there anyway.
What can I say to that? Well, if you’ve read past newsletter issues (or gone to our website at ForestLakeMaine.com), then you already know that the plants in question were identified by three state agencies and two independent laboratories (using DNA analysis) as low water and farwell’s milfoil. You also know that these are native species in Maine, not the hybrid or non-natives that other lakes are dealing with, but that they are not native to our lake (they first showed up here, we think, about four years ago—that’s our guess based on plant surveys), so they are behaving like an invasive species.
If you want to fish in the areas marked by buoys, be my guest. Chances are, you’ll have a great time. Fish LOVE milfoil. Here’s my request (and please pass this along): anchor your boat on the outskirts of the plant colony so that your motor doesn’t rip up chunks of plant material (which will spread across the lake and form new colonies) and when you reel in, take any plant material that you catch on your line and lures (and you will!) home with you and throw it in your trash. Please DON’T toss it overboard. Remember, we’re trying to keep this stuff from spreading (if you want to see what a mess it can create, look at the cove colony). If you overhear a conversation like the one above, please step in and speak up. This is a small, fragile lake, and all of us need to be good stewards.
Another issue of concern, and this is a very personal one for me, are the number of boats and jetskis that simply ignore Maine safety regulations. The law is headway speed only unless further than 200 feet from shore (or the shoreline of the islands). Obviously, if you measure that distance on Forest Lake, the area for boating is very, very limited, so most people “bend” that rule a bit. Couple that with ignoring of the law that requires jetskis to stop operating an hour before sunset, and we’ve got some hazardous shore waters. I swim nearly every day along the northeast shoreline. I usually swim 50-60 feet off shore, mostly to avoid weedy patches and docks and moorings, and usually in the evening when the boat traffic has calmed down. I can’t tell you how many times in the past four weeks, I’ve nearly been decapitated by a jetski (or, sometimes, a boat—although that’s more rare), even though I make a point to splash quite a bit when I know a watercraft is approaching (or sometimes I stop swimming and just bob in the water, waving my arms in the air). I’ve been swimming this lake for years, so I’m pretty savvy about saving myself, but on any given evening, there are dozens of kids in the water, sometimes close to shore, sometimes out a bit. So please review the safety regs, abide by them, and if you see someone breaking the law, please stop them.
I could continue to harp on other issues of safety, or pollution, or just plain courtesy, but I need to get off the soapbox and go water my tomato plants. Thank you, thank you, thank you a million times over to everyone who practices good lake stewardship and, of course, to all of the board members for their many volunteer hours and the money that comes out of their own pockets for gas and travel to various meetings and trainings. Despite an explosion of development and population on the lake and in our watershed, Forest Lake is pretty clean and healthy and safe. That’s an accomplishment that takes a committed community effort.