In 2018, LEA saw a rash of invasive plant activity in the state. Pennesseewassee Lake had a Eurasian milfoil “save” at the beginning of the boating season, where plants were intercepted coming from a lake in New York State. A new infestation was discovered in July in Cobbossee Lake. On the heels of that cleanup came the discovery of European Frog Bit, an invasive lily pad never found in Maine before.
Locally, LEA has recorded seven “saves” this year. Jewett said all but the Eurasian catch were coming out of the State Park (two) or moving through the Songo River (four). “We had only one save last year on the Songo River,” she said. “The increase of plants found at our infested sites is likely due to the time we have spent getting the Long Lake infestation in Mast Cove under control. These infestations must be monitored each year for new plant growth. If you don’t get it early, the patches will get big again. Across the state, there have been many more. I don’t have the exact number right now. I do know that Lake Arrowhead in Waterboro has already had 48 ‘saves’ this summer. I believe all of those are from boats leaving the water or boats that only boat on that lake. That public launch has the most catches by far.”
The discovery of new infestations always brings questions about the efficacy of the program, but lake data shows that the Courtesy Boat Inspection program is working. Maine continues to have many fewer invasive aquatic species compared to other New England states. Less than 10% of Maine waterways contain invasive species compared to 84 bodies of water in neighboring New Hampshire that have invasive aquatic plants. Maine has about 40 total infested waterbodies with different plants, mostly variable milfoil, Jewett said.