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2002 Milfoil Summit Report
Date: February 28, 2002
Place: Saint Paul's Center, 136 State Street, Augusta

8:00    Registration and refreshments
8:30    Welcome and Introduction - Peter Lowell, LEA
8:40    Maine's new Invasives Legislation and the Task Force - Ship Bright, MLCI
9:00    The Summer of 2001 - Roberta Hill, PWD and Peter Lowell
9:20    The Invasives Sticker Program - IF&W
9:30    Invasives - A Public Issue from the Press's Perspective
          Naomi Shalit, Maine Public Radio News Producer
          Susan Young, Bangor Daily News Environmental Reporter
10:30  BREAK
10:45  Acting Locally - Ideas and Options, John Van Bourg, COLA
11:00  This Spring, This Summer - Roy Bouchard, DEP and Scott Williams, VLMP
11:20  Opportunity for Questions and Comments
11:30  Wrap-Up
11:45  Lunch

Notes courtesty of Maggie Shannon:

Maine's New Invasives Legislation and the Task Force - Ship Bright MLCI
Maine passed the nation's most comprehensive invasives management legislation (LD 1812) in 2001.  Its funding mechanism is a annual sticker required for all motorized boats beginning in 2002.  The cost for in-state boats (boats which do not leave the state of Maine) is $10.00; for boats from out of state the fee is $20.00.  It is significant that this funding mechanism is a dedicated, non-lapsing source of revenue for the program.

The economic argument (drop in property values for individual landowners, lost tax revenues for towns) was critical to passage of the legislation.  Figures from Rutland, VT, show an average property value decline of $12,000.00.  Further, once the invasives are established in a lake, the costs of controlling the infestation is greater than most towns or lake associations can afford.  10% of Maine's income relies on lakes; invasives threaten this economic mainstay.
We must be prepared to speak up on the Sticker Issue, since it may generate controversy.  $10 and $20 are small amounts to pay when you consider the potential loss of our lakes.  It is a good investment.  It is better to pay a small amount for prevention than a huge outlay for the cure.

For the current status of LD 1812:  www.mainedep.com

The Summer of 2001 - Roberta Hill, PWCD;   and Peter Lowell - LEA

We work in urgent times.  We have a small window for action and so much to lose.  We need to be aware of certain barriers to desired behaviors which are really myths, and be prepared to counter them with good information.
     1)  Why is Milfoil suddenly a problem when it's been here for many years? Let's be sure we are talking about the same thing.   There are many “look alikes” which are native, non-threatening species.  Coon tail and bladderwort are often mistaken for milfoil.  There are 6 native non-invasive milfoils!  These good plants can be confused with the undesirable ones, leading people to mistakenly think milfoil is not invasive.
     2) Milfoil is the only problem.  Milfoil is only one of the invasive species which seriously threaten our lakes.  There are 11 most unwanted species of plants and animals headed our way.  Believing milfoil is the only problem could be a stumbling block to effective prevention.
     3)Milfoil only affects the shallow areas of a lake.  True, but the shallow part is exactly where humans and lake interface; from the shore to a depth of 20 feet.  If you look at the topography of lake bottoms, you will find the deep areas small in comparison to the vulnerable shallow areas near shore.
     4)Milfoil doesn't affect the drinking water.  Not true.  Milfoil elevates the amount of organic matter (turbidity) in water.  This can clog filters.  Where filters are not used, turbid water still requires disinfection and disinfection byproducts are carcinogenic. Herbicides commonly used to control infestations are a potential threat to public health.
Currently, there are 87,000 chemicals used in commercial herbicides!  There is not enough scientific data on these chemicals to tell whether they are safe or not.  Endocrine system damage is one of the risks involved.  Herbicides, far from being the silver bullet some people claim, actually create more plants in the long run.

We are on the verge of a situation where we will have to reallocate resources unless we grab the window of opportunity and prevent the spread of invasives.

Peter Lowell reviewed the Courtesy Boat Inspection Program begun in 2001.  We are striving for consistency and a uniform approach.  A manual, as well as signs, t-shirts, and a brochure are available.  For these materials or to schedule a training session for volunteers contact Peter at LEA 647-8580 or  lakes@megalink.net

The Invasives Sticker Program - Mike Sawyer, IF&W

IF&W's part of LD 1812 is education and enforcement.  These responsibilities, funded by the sale of stickers, fall under the aegis of  IF&W's Recreational Safety Division.  

Stickers will be available at Boat Registration Agencies and Licensing Agencies.  $1.00 of each fee will remain with the agencies, and the rest will go to IF&W to run education and enforcement programs  Colonel Mike Peabody, Director of the IF&W expressed concern about public reaction to the program (sticker shock).  Game wardens will not require boats without stickers to return to shore this summer;  they will only give warnings and tell boaters not to return to any lake before getting a sticker.  IF&W does not have the funds to hire/train the 6 wardens mandated by LD 1812.  Colonel Peabody will neither hire not train wardens until revenues from sticker sales come into IF&W.

The Perspective of the Press - Naomi Schalit of NPR and Susan Young Bangor Daily News  (Informal comments from these women on how to get your story into the media)  Weeklies are your greatest assets;  they are always looking for stories.  June to August is a good time to get stories in the press and on the air.  Quirky, unusual, idiosyncratic stories get coverage.  Controversy gets coverage.  (e.g. IF&W doesn't have the money to fund the education and enforcement positions LD1812 requires - “the law of unintended consequences” in action.)  Stories that come in early in the day and early in the week get coverage.  For Newspapers, pictures can pave the way to getting covered.

Think of the angles.  For instance, a gubernatorial race is coming up.  Get to Baldacci, Flanagan on the issue. There is an important financial angle to this story;  get hold of the financial reporter in your newspaper.  Alert the MMA;  they send a newsletter to every town in the state.

Naomi Schalit:  nschalit@pbc.org   (207) 287-1094

Acting Locally, Ideas and Options - John Van Bourg,  COLA
“Communicate, Educate, Associate, Communicate!”

This effort is only going to succeed if it is supported on the local level.  The DEP can't do it.  The IF&W can't do it.  LEA, VLMP, COLA can't do it.  The only way it will work is if every lake association has an inspector by this summer.  The ramps will have to be staffed, by volunteers, by paid people.
This kind of effort is very difficult to sustain over time.  We will need sustainable funding for the future.  The crunch time is now (Roberta's narrow window of opportunity) - effective programs will have to be fielded this summer when sustained funding is not yet available.

At the same time, lake associations cannot afford to focus on only one issue.  These are all hot items: Invasives, NPS Pollution, Mercury in the water, dam insurance which is hard to get since 9/11

Think of activating all the lake constituencies: water-skiers, fishermen, divers, etc.

This Spring, This Summer - Roy Bouchard, DEP and Scott Williams, VLMP
Roy reviewed what the DEP WQ Department accomplished in 2001 (whew!)  Emphasis on education; a recent poll indicates more than 60% of those questioned were informed about the threat of aquatic invasive plants.  Surveyed border crossings to get the number of boats that enter Maine as part of risk assessment;  found 51,000 powerboats enter annually at the NH border and Jackman.  Roadside inspections were not effective.

The sticker program will be tricky.  It is a PR problem.  It is difficult to administer.  The DEP is understaffed.

The DEP's program of “Rapid Response” (to the discovery of new milfoil infestations) also needs more staff.  It is not rapid enough now.

More posters will be available this spring: April or May

Scott discussed the Invasive Plant Patrol Program (IPPP). The IPPP is all about reducing risk.  A well informed public is the best defense on this issue.  VLMP's IPPP provides hands on training for volunteers to learn to recognize aquatic invaders.  Those who take the training are certified.  The VLMP then helps volunteers with screening programs on their lakes, and shows them how to construct screening tools.  VLMP's IPPP workshops will start in late June and be given weekdays and weekends.  

NB:  SUMMER MILFOIL SUMMIT will be held on JUNE 14