In this file photo from 2020, the boat launch and cove at Martin's Point on Sabattus Pond in Sabattus. Credit: Russ Dillingham / Sun Journal via AP

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On Jan. 30 legislators heard testimony on LD 164 to fund lake restoration and protection. For years, protecting Maine’s lakes has been left mostly to lake property owners considered as the ones to benefit.

In the 1990s, the state built public boat launches on many of Maine’s lakes to provide access to boaters, which seemed like a good thing for everyone at the time. Recognizing that boats can introduce invasive species to lakes, the state also created a revenue source for lake protection by requiring boaters to purchase what is commonly called the “milfoil sticker.” Where lake associations exist, volunteers could implement programs such as Courtesy Boat Inspection, monitoring for invasive plants and water quality testing.

The problem today is that boat use has   increased significantly. Most lakes don’t have lake associations or volunteer capacity to implement these programs, and those that do must also seek additional funding for programs to be effective. Invasive species are spreading to other parts of Maine now, impacting the clean lakes we are known for. Today’s protection and restoration needs far exceed what volunteers can manage. And we should not be relying on private funders to shoulder much of the financial burden. Lakes are one of our most valuable natural resources from which we all benefit. I hope our legislators will support this bill.

Lucy Leaf, vice president, Toddy Pond Association