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Waterford Library: A Habitat Hero

by Robert Spencer, Over the Dam

Essential to healing our damaged environment are organizations which recognize a climate in crisis and educate citizens to actions they can take on their own to save the planet. Lakes Environmental Association and Keoka Lake Association have been working for years to train waterfront property owners in ways of managing their lots to improve water quality. Now Waterford Library has joined the ranks of climate conscious organizations who seek to show, by example and event planning, how we all can contribute to reducing climate degradation.

In June, Trustees and Library neighbors hired Al’s Goats of Maine to clear the Library lot of an infestation of poison ivy which threatened the safety of those attending outdoor events. Elimination of the noxious weed was completed without the use of herbicides such as Roundup, which not only may pollute our waters, but also potentially cause health problems for living organisms, including humans.

On Saturday, July 26, an event funded by the Sheena Fraser Fund brought together residents who seek to improve the biodiversity of our local environment. Their teacher was professional Ecologist Deb Perkins of First Light Habitats in Poland, ME. We met at Diane and Jim Flynn’s waterfront home on Stone’s Cove, Keoka’s easternmost shore line.

Perkins’ Walk-n-Talk is “Landscaping For Biodiversity and Water Quality.” During the two-hour discussion, she introduced us to significant native woody plants and ground covers that already exist on the predominantly wooded lot. Deb explained how those plants support bird and insect life and how a diversity of native species works to maintain natural water quality.

Are you aware that there are over 3,100 species of caterpillars native to our neighborhood and that approximately six thousand are needed to feed a brood of chickadee fledglings? Or that a ten-foot-wide buffer of small native shrubs and ground covers can help to reduce runoff from your lawns, which may contain chemical contaminants?

We learned of plants that are available from local sources to suit a variety of soil, sun, and shade conditions. Perkins passed out a variety of very helpful brochures and pamphlets that explain in detail what actions we can all take to keep our lake water clean and still have a beautiful, low maintenance landscape.

On Tuesday, June 13, at 5:30 p.m., the Library grounds will be the site of the next live gathering with an environmental theme. People from Waterford and surrounding towns will meet to plan a habitat garden to be installed on the lot, following the removal of poison ivy. This project has been selected by the local Climate Conversation group as an action that can be taken to demonstrate how climate friendly gardening can improve our climate by encouraging biodiversity.

Some definitions:

Habitat garden: “An intentional, cultivated space designed to benefit wildlife and boost diversity.”

--Deb Perkins

Biodiversity: “Refers to the variety of life on Earth at all of its levels, from genes to ecosystems.”

--American Museum of Natural History

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