Maine (WABI) - As folks head out on Maine's lakes, the state is asking boaters to be mindful of milfoil.
As Joy Hollowell reports, a recent discovery of the invasive species is ramping up concern about the plant.
Maine has six native milfoil plants and according to Karen Hahnel with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, native plants are actually great for our water quality. What isn't good, is two invasive species of the plant.
"One of the invasives is variable leaf milfoil and that is in the majority of our infested water bodies," explains Hahnel who is with the Invasive Species Program.
The other, known as Eurasian Milfoil, was discovered in a Norway lake on May 31st.
"We further looked at the plant under a microscope and found a miniscule mollusk on the tip of that fragment," says Hahnel. "And that turned out to be a zebra mussel, a very invasive mussel."
Inspectors with Maine's Courtesy Boat Inspection Programs are trained to look for all hitch hiker plants.Boaters are asked for the voluntary inspections both before launching as well as when they return.
"We would want to look behind the license plate, the light, I would look under the trailer and up the back of the boat," says Hahnel as she demonstrates what a typical boat inspection might look like. Gear inside the boat as well as the anchor itself are also on the list. But with 6,000 lakes in Maine, inspectors can't possibly cover all waterways all of the time. Which is why the DEP is asking the public to pitch in.
"So we would like boaters, people who recreate on the water, to make it a habit to clean, to drain, to dry their equipment before they leave a water body and certainly before they are back," says Hahnel.
Hahnel says the entire process only takes about three minutes but could have long lasting effects on our natural treasures.
"We all love these beautiful lakes and we want to keep them that way," she says.
Boaters are required by law to have a Lake and River Protection sticker displayed on their boat if they are using it in fresh water.
Stickers for Maine residents are $10, $20 for those from out of state.
For more information on the Eurasian milfoil, log onto https://www.maine.gov/dep/water/invasives/euratext.html
If you'd like more information on Maine's Voluntary Boat Inspection programs, log onto https://www.maine.gov/dep/water/invasives/inspect.html