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Protect Maine Lakes


Lupine on the waterLakes offer far reaching value both to Maine’s wildlife as well as its people. For more than 30 years, we have worked with more than 1,500 volunteers across Maine to monitor the health of Maine’s Common Loon, a species tied more closely than perhaps any other to clean, clear water.

Common Loons have to see their prey – small to medium-sized fish – in order to catch them, and they can only be successful on lakes where pollution and invasive plants are absent and where silt, sand and other run-off do not cloud the water.

Maine Audubon supports the following three bills that will protect Maine lakes:

An Act to Protect Maine’s Great Ponds (LD 40)

Sponsored by Senator Tom Saviello

LD 40 prohibits the use of fertilizer within 50 feet of a great pond except for a person involved in agriculture or applying fertilizer to restore vegetation to stop, slow or remediate shoreline erosion or damage.

Act to Protect Maine Lakes (LD 568)

Sponsored by Representative Ben Chipman

LD 568 includes provisions that would strengthen the Department of Environmental Protection’s lake protection efforts, reduce runoff pollution, enhance enforcement and promote voluntary actions and new strategies for lake protection.

Resolve, to Further Protect Lake Quality (LD 713)

Sponsored by Representative Gary Hilliard

LD 713 makes a number of changes to shoreland zoning including changes to setbacks for new principal and accessory structures, phosphorus mitigation requirements in conjunction with the expansion of the footprint of a structure within the setback area and requirements for the location of wells within the setback area. It also directs the Department of Environmental Protection to create a stakeholder committee to examine the effectiveness of the shoreland zoning rules, develop recommendations and report back to the Legislature next year.

Background

The water quality of Maine lakes and ponds exhibits widespread, measurable declines:

1. The clarity of many Maine lakes and ponds declined as much as 20% in the fifteen years between 1995 and 2010, as documented by a University of Maine satellite survey.

2. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has listed 10% of Maine’s great ponds as “at risk,” meaning these valuable resources will become impaired in as little as 20-40 years if land use in their watersheds doesn’t improve.

3. Continued declines would jeopardize Maine’s lake portfolio:

  • $3.5 billion in annual economic activity
  • Drinking water supplies for 50% of Maine residents
  • 52,000 jobs
  • Outstanding recreational opportunities
  • Support for municipal services derived from lakefront property tax revenues
  • The health and well being of people, businesses, and communities dependent upon Maine lakes.