by Charlie Tarbell
I bet you are wondering about just what Lakes Environmental Association (LEA) does for Keoka Lake Association (KLA). I used to wonder about that too. Why was I spending my cash as a member of both organizations? You might even call me a slow learner — I’ve been an LEA member for over thirty years.
I confess that I’ve always been impressed with how much KLA manages to accomplish on its own, with only a dedicated group of volunteers as staff. Don’t get me wrong, volunteers are great. And they actually do contribute SIGNIFICANTLY to KLA’s success. But there is nothing like dedicated, full-time staff when it comes to mission-critical tasks that cannot be deferred based on volunteer availability.
By mission-critical, I’m referring to LEA’s complex regular water quality testing. I’m also referring to the cutting-edge advanced water quality research that will help us understand the biochemistry of Maine lakes and how we can protect this precious resource. And did I mention courtesy boat inspections (CBI)? LEA hires and manages all our boat inspectors at the Keoka Town Boat Launch site. They also provide a team of divers who, annually, inspect Keoka’s potential “hot spots” for milfoil in order to augment our own Plant Patrol observations, conducted by our volunteers. You could say that LEA is providing a professional wrapping to our core volunteer effort, ensuring that nothing gets missed.
LEA is also our voice in Augusta (remember— the capital of Maine, and seat of the government). Colin Holme (LEA’s Executive Director) is our constant advocacy presence, promoting those bills that will protect and benefit our lake. Yes, I’ve attended occasional hearings with Colin, but I have to stress that he, and his staff, are the steady, well-known presence in Augusta representing Keoka’s interests.
LEA’s importance to KLA also shows up in our financial support. First of all, approximately 35% of KLA members (who total over 120) are also LEA members. That is a high percentage of support compared to many other lakes. Second, KLA provides a grant of over $2000 (FY2021) to LEA to support regular and advanced water testing. And, third, KLA funds the CBI program with over $7,000, money raised mostly via grants augmented by our membership dues. Indeed, 50% of KLA’s annual budget is committed to LEA programs.
Finally, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not only past President of KLA, but I’m currently serving as Treasurer of LEA. That means that I see where the LEA money comes from and where it goes. I can solemnly testify to a budget carefully managed and well-spent by a quality organization. LEA is truly worthy of our support.
LEA IS our staff. LEA is our constant presence. LEA “keeps the lights on” throughout the year when it comes to lake protection programs. They maintain a laser focus on their mission: Protecting the waters and watersheds in the Greater Sebago Lake Region.
If you are already a member of LEA – thanks for your support. If you are not a member of LEA, then please, in addition to being a member of KLA, consider supporting LEA directly with your membership. It is money well spent in protecting our lake.
Membership information available at: www.mainelakes.org