CAMDEN — The Megunticook Watershed Association is celebrating its 50th birthday Saturday, July 27, with a Boat Party, plus music by Just Teachers.
The festivities take place off of Camp Rabbit — GPS- 44°14'27.94"N 69° 6'30.40"W — from 4 to 6 p.m. Take a boat to get there! Visit the Association’s Facebook page for more information.
Megunticook Watershed Association Executive Director Paul Leeper has compiled the following history of the Association, which was founded when local residents learned about a possible Fernald’s Neck development in 1969.
By Paul Leeper
The Megunticook Watershed Association is 50 years old in 2019. In celebration, here’s a little look back at our first 50 years. On September 23, 1969, after filing papers with the Knox County Registry of Deeds, the Megunticook Lake Association became a legal entity. This was after an organizational meeting on August 27, 1969 that was held at the Legion Hall in Camden. The impetus to organize into a Lake Association was driven by a developer’s interest in buying Fernald’s Neck. Local residents banded together and raised funds to purchase 285 acres of the peninsula, which was transferred to The Nature Conservancy.
The official filing with the Maine Secretary of State gave a very lawyerly explanation of the purposes for this new Association: “The purposes of said corporation are scientific, educational and agricultural, and to improve and preserve the environment and the quality of Megunticook Lake and Norton Pond in Knox County and Waldo County in the State of Maine, and to conserve the natural resources in the watershed of said Norton Pond and Megunticook Lake so that such natural resources may be devoted to the scientific and social use of the residents of said watershed; to test the waters of said Pond and Lake, to discourage pollution thereof, to disseminate information about safety in boating and other water sports and to circulate printed information about the laws of Maine concerning sanitation and safety. To acquire and hold real estate for the purpose of preserving same in its natural state, maintaining the same for nature study.”
The original trustees/directors signing the state certificate were: A. H. Chatfield, Jr., E. Clifford Ladd, Carlton F. Dougherty, Bernard Frankel, A. Margaret Bok, Lester Meyerhoff, Charles W. Chatfield, Arthur E. Spellissy and Stillman F. Kelley. Carlton Dougherty was dedicated to protecting the Watershed, serving on the Board of Directors for more than 40 years.
A few years after forming as the Megunticook Lake Association, the organization changed its name in 1985 to the Megunticook Watershed Association (MWA) realizing that along with Megunticook Lake, the Megunticook River, Norton Pond, Moody Pond and the entire 32-square-mile watershed were of equal importance and should be included in all activities.
Les Fleck was the Association’s first Warden signing on in 1974. He resigned as Lake Warden in 1984 after 10 years of service. Ken Bailey was hired as part-time Lake Warden in the fall of 1984; he served as part-time Lake Warden until he was hired as full-time Executive Director/Lake Warden on April 4, 2004. He served until his death in 2012. In many ways, Ken was the face, heart, and soul of the MWA. Justin Twitchell assumed the Lake Patrol duties after Ken’s death and Paul Leeper assumed the Executive Director’s job. Dale Dougherty, son of Carleton Dougherty, became Lake Patrol Warden in 2016.
The Megunticook Watershed Association purchased the two outlet dams in 1984-85 and donated them, plus a $20,000 endowment fund, to the Town of Camden.
MWA has been testing water clarity in Megunticook Lake and Norton Pond since 1975 for the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program. Today temperature and dissolved oxygen profiles are taken every two weeks and seasonal phosphorus and algae measurements round out the MWA’s water quality testing program.
Courtesy boat inspections (CBI) for milfoil and other invasive aquatic plants have been conducted since 2001. Since 2014 our CBI program has been folded into our Watershed Stewards Project. This project educates area students on water quality problems and trains them to combat these threats. Watershed Stewards are trained to conduct Courtesy Boat Inspections, Invasive Aquatic Plant Surveys- searching for invasive plants in Megunticook Lake and Norton Pond; and, Water Quality Monitoring- measuring water clarity and dissolved oxygen levels. Our two main goals for this Project are educating area youth and protecting of our lakes and ponds. Over 35 students have been through the program and, in recent years, almost 2,000 watercraft are been inspected annually.
In conjunction with Camden Partners in Monitoring, weekly water tests for bacteria began in the late 1990s. Today MWA volunteers sample multiple locations on the lake, pond and river and the data is posted weekly on the MWA website. If elevated levels of bacteria are found the area towns are notified to post swimming advisories. In 2012, in response to consistent elevated levels of bacteria at the Breezemere Park swim beach in Lincolnville, the MWA funded a bacteria study to attempt to find the cause. As part of that study, a malfunctioning septic system was discovered and taken out of use.
A Nonpoint Source Pollution Survey was conducted from 2005-2006 and was the beginning of the MWA LakeSmart program. LakeSmart is a program that offers FREE opportunities for homeowners to learn how to manage their home and yard to protect the water quality of our waters. It’s volunteers helping neighbors with practical, common sense, solutions to erosion problems. The goal of LakeSmart is to change landscaping practices to more natural, water-friendly environments. The primary focus is to keep our waters clean by stabilizing eroding areas, reducing the use of chemicals, diverting rainwater into vegetated areas, and maintaining or planting trees, shrubs, and ground cover along the shoreland. Landscaping and managing your property in an environmentally friendly manner through LakeSmart is one way for you to help our watershed and have a low-maintenance, great-looking property.
Today, The Megunticook Watershed Association, is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, existing exclusively for scientific, educational, conservation, and charitable purposes in the Megunticook Watershed. Some of the other MWA responsibilities are:
Prevention and elimination of water pollution
Public education on safety in boating and other water sports
Safeguarding legislative activities affecting the watershed
Distribution of information about sanitation and safety laws
Safety patrols around the lake, ponds, and river throughout the year
We count on the support of our members to continue our work. If you enjoy the Megunticook Watershed please consider becoming a member.
For more information go to https://www.megunticook.org/donate/