What is Milfoil?
Milfoil is a rooted, submerged, aquatic plant found naturally in lakes and streams. There are five native Maine varieties that are part of the natural vegetation. But there are two non-native varieties that are considered invasives and are causing all of the trouble. Variable-leafed milfoil is already present in 27 Maine lakes systems, including streams. Eurasian water milfoil, the more aggressive colonizer of the two, has also been found in several Maine water bodies.
It is thought that many invasive aquatic plants were aquarium plants that were innocently transported here. Now that the plants are here, they reproduce by fragmentation. When a disturbance, like a motorboat or fishing lure, passes through a colony of plants, the chopped up pieces are each capable of forming a new plant. Milfoil can move from lake to lake on a propeller, trailer, fishing gear, or anchor. Non-native plants are a threat because they do not have the natural checks and balances of a healthy ecosystem. Without limitations, they outgrow and eventually choke out the native plants and disturb the balance of the food web.
The best solution is prevention. Once milfoil invades a lake, it can cost tens of thousands of dollars to eliminate. Vigilance is the key to keeping milfoil from spreading to other lakes. All boaters should be mindful to do their part to prevent the spread of milfoil (and other invasives) to other lakes by:
Checking your boat, trailer, and gear every time they enter or leave the water. Even little pieces of milfoil can start a colony. All boats, including kayaks, paddleboards, etc. need to be inspected when they are moved from lake to lake.
Using the boat launches with trained milfoil inspectors. The Town of Waterford and KLA staff the Keoka Lake town boat launch to make sure that thorough inspections are done.
Purchasing an annual milfoil sticker. The sticker fees help support the Courtesy Boat Inspection program.
Never introducing non-native plants to the lake. Something as simple as dumping water from an aquarium or a houseplant could start an infestation.
Patrollng the shoreline. Know what the shoreline in front of your property looks like and take pictures. If you see changes report them to an LEA or KLA officer. Know what milfoil looks like and watch for it.
Never using pesticides or herbicides even if an invasive is suspected. This problem needs to be solved by those trained for it. Do not try to do it yourself.
KLA continues to build a Milfoil Reserve from memberships and donations. In event of an 'invasive invasion,' KLA aims to quickly mitigate the problem and keep Keoka Lake clean.