Free course on invasive aquatic plant identification is Aug 14 in Oquossoc

OQUOSSOC — Maine waters are being invaded, and as with a serious illness, early detection is key. The earlier the introduced invader — such as Eurasian water-milfoil — is detected, the greater the chances of successful management and reduction of the risk of spread.
With more than 6,000 lakes, ponds and miles of suitable stream habitat to be monitored for the presence of aquatic invaders on an ongoing basis, the challenge in Maine is enormous. This opportunity for free training will provide participants with everything they need to get started.
The course will be held Wednesday, Aug. 14, at the Rangeley Region Guides and Sportsmen clubhouse on Old Skiway Road and is geared towards participants without a botany background; there are no prerequisites. Ellie White, regional aquatic plant coordinator, will be at the course to help.
When people think of an invasive aquatic plant, they often think of milfoil; however, there are native milfoils which don’t threaten our waters. as several problematic and dangerous milfoils. Eurasian Water-Milfoil is the plant commonly known to be invasive. There are 10 other lesser known plants such as Curly Leaf Pondweed, European Frogbit and Hydrilla, which could be just as (or perhaps more) dangerous to Maine waters.
If an invasive plant becomes established, it multiples rapidly, choking the surface of the lake, which at first glance may appear to be an agricultural field instead of a lake. The plants will entangle swimmers as well as boat propellers. While invasive plants have infested lakes in the southern and central Maine regions, no established plants have been found in the Rangeley area.
Lake Stewards of Maine, formerly known as the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, is the oldest and one of the largest citizen-based lake monitoring programs in the nation. Through its internationally recognized Invasive Plant Patrol program, LSM has now trained more than 4,500 “plant patrollers” across the state. Lake Stewards of Maine has a network of “jump start teams” responding to a newly-identified invasive plants. This team’s goal is control and eradication of these plants before they become established. Roberta Hill, the invasive species program director of LSM, will be teaching this course.
The Rangeley workshop will be presented in four parts:
* Overview of invasive species issues in Maine and beyond * Plant identification fundamentals;
* Plant identification hands-on exercise with live plants;
* Conducting an invasive aquatic plant screening survey, tools and techniques;
Sponsored locally by the Friends of Quimby Pond and the Kennebago Lake Association, the course is free to all participants; lunch will be provided by the Friends of Quimby Pond. All workshop participants receive an Invasive Plant Patroller’s Handbook. Attendees who sign up to become certified also receive a copy of the Maine Field Guide to Invasive Aquatic Plants. To register for the course, contact Sue Motley at suesmotley@gmail.com or call 207-670-8124. Another option is to sign up on-line at www.lakestewardsofmaine.org/invasive-plant-patrol-workshops/intro-registration/. Plant patrollers, who have already taken this course, are welcome to attend.

PHOTO: Hydrilla in a Maine lake. (Lake Stewardsd of Maine photo)