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China/Vassalboro fifth graders help with revegetation program

Students at VCS helping with the revegetation project at the Masse Dam Site.

Fifth grade students from China Middle School and Vassalboro Community School are continuing the work started two years ago by fellow students helping with the revegetation project at the Masse Dam site, in Vassalboro. They are learning the connections between alewives, native plants and the restoration of Maine waterways back to their original state. The restoration of Maine waterways, also known as the Alewife Restoration Initiative, will allow river herring, an anadromous fish, to return to freshwater to spawn.

The site of Masse Dam, which was removed in 2018. (photo by Eric Austin)

Matt Streeter, from Maine Rivers, shared what has happened and is happening as dams are being removed allowing alewives and blueback herring to return to China Lake and Outlet Stream. Nate Gray from the Maine Department of Marine Resources provided information on alewives as a keystone species and what that means to our local environment. Anita Smith, a Maine Master naturalist, clarified the difference between native and invasive plants and why we need to focus our restoration efforts with native species.

This year’s seed collection were ones that would do well in wet to medium wet soils. Some of the seeds planted were Swamp Milkweed, Swamp Smart Weed, New England Asters, Wild Bergamot, Black-eyed Susan and Golden Alexander. Next fall students will go to the Masse Dam site to plant their young plants along the outlet stream. There is also a plan for the fifth graders to visit the site this spring. In the spring they will learn more about the history of the site, identify critters from the stream to determine if the stream is healthy or not, as well as plant shrubs along the stream’s edge.

Seeds for this project were provided by the China Lake Association.

Article and photos submitted by Elaine Philbrook of the China Lake association.

Students at CMS helping with the revegetation project at the Masse Dam Site.

Winners of 2019 China Lake Association post contest

The winners of the China Lake Association poster contest were, from left to right, Elaine Philbrook, contest coordinator, April Dutilly (fifth grade, fourth place), Madeline Clement (fifth grade, fourth place), Elijah Pelkey (fifth grade, third place), Elliotte Podey (fifth grade, first place), and Kayleigh Morin (sixth grade, first place). Back is China Lake Association President Scott Pierz. Not present, fifth grade winners, Ruby Pearson (second place), Bayley Nickles (fourth place), and Octavia Berto (sixth grade, second place), and Jayda Bickford (sixth grade, third place). (photo courtesy of Elaine Philbrook)

China Lake Association holds annual meeting

At their annual meeting on July 28, the China Lake Association presented Scott and Katy McCormac with the LakeSmart Award. In photo, Katy, left, accepts the award from Marie Michaud. (Contributed photo)

Submitted by Scott Pierz

The China Lake Association held its annual summer meeting on Saturday, July 28, at the China Primary School, which included an excellent presentation by Dr. Whitney King, of Colby College. More than 70 people attended.

China Lake Association Director Elaine Philbrook presented awards for this year’s poster contest held for the fifth and sixth graders at the China Middle School. There were amazing posters again this year, created upon the theme of “The Year of the Buffer.” The top award winners were fifth grader Chase Larrabee and sixth grader Stephanie Kumnick.

This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Whitney King, from Colby College, who presented the audience with information about the condition and treatment of East Pond. His talk was entitled, “Saving East Pond: A Cautionary Tale.” During this summer, a team of participants and scientists undertook the task of introducing alum, also known as Aluminum Sulfate, into East Pond. The project took 20 days to complete. In proper concentrations, this process is believed to reduce (“lock up”) the phosphorus concentration in the water-body thereby limiting the availability of phosphorus to produce algae blooms. Dr. King’s report also included information about the historical condition of China Lake. There were many interesting and good questions, and Dr. King was very dynamic and knowledgeable in his presentation.

Director Elaine Philbrook talked about the Invasive Plant Paddle Program she is participating in, with a scheduled Plant Paddle to take place on Tuesday August 21, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the Four Seasons Club, 570 Lakeview Drive. To register and to find more information about the Invasive Plant Paddle, go to: https://www.mainevlmp.org/invasive-plant-patrol-workshops/

Director Marie Michaud updated everyone on the progress being made this summer with the China LakeSmart Program. She reported that China LakeSmart was in full swing with over a dozen new shorefront buffers already installed this summer. The work is completed by the Youth Conservation Corps operated by the China Region Lakes Alliance. More work is expected to be completed by this season’s end. People were encouraged to join her team of volunteers who assess the shoreline of China Lake property owners who would like a buffer planted. It is a free service to China Lake property owners. Anyone interested can e-mail chinalakesmart@gmail.com. Finally, Katy and Scott McCormac were recognized for achieving a LakeSmart Award, which was presented by Marie Michaud.

The Kennebec Water District was recognized for its contributions, once again donating considerable funds to support China LakeSmart projects. Also, the Kennebec Water District helps support the Courtesy Boat Inspection Program on China Lake. Inspectors can be seen at the Head of China Lake on the weekends. The Kennebec Water District’s representative, Matt Zetterman, made a presentation and reported that China Lake again, for the second year in a row, has had incredibly good water quality based on lake monitoring data.

Nate Gray of the Maine Department of Marine Resources gave an excellent update on the Alewife Restoration Initiative (ARI). He spoke on the progress being made on the ARI project, including last year’s removal of the Masse Dam, and the upcoming scheduled removal of the Lombard Dam, in Vassalboro. He commented that conceptual fish passage designs continue to be developed for the Ladd and Box Mill Dams, in North Vassalboro, along with an engineered design of a fish passage at the Outlet Dam, in East Vassalboro.

Director Bob O’Connor wrapped up with the loon count for China Lake this year, reporting a decrease in the number of loons observed: 20 adult loons but only one new loon chick seen. This loon count is conducted early in the morning the Saturday before the annual meeting for a very short period of time, and in specific locations around the lake. This is the established way in which the loon count takes place, however, other local reports set the number of observed new loon chicks to be four.

Finally, Registered Agent Jamie Pitney conducted the business of renewing some of the director’s terms and the slate of officers will remain the same for another year until the next annual meeting in 2019. These include Scott Pierz (President), David Preston (Secretary), Tim Axelson (Treasurer) and James Pitney (Registered Agent).

For additional information about the China Lake Association or for anyone interested in becoming a member go to the China Lake Association’s website at http://chinalakeassociation.org/ or check things out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/China-Lake-Association.