In late January I sent a brief announcement to members announcing that, as anticipated, the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance and the Maine Lakes Resource Center had successfully combined forces to create 7 Lakes Alliance. The response to our new name and mission was overwhelming and deeply gratifying, although some members had questions regarding our scope and mission. Will you still be offering the same programs and services? Does this change the relationship with the lake associations? Everyone I have spoken with has demonstrated that you, our most committed partners, share a vision for 7 Lakes Alliance echoed by our staff and ratified by our board at our February 15 meeting.
7 Lakes Alliance will support land and water conservation in the Belgrade Lakes Region by engaging with the whole community to achieve clean water, well stewarded lands, and a vibrant economy. Our work will combine contemporary scientific knowledge, respect for the area’s natural heritage and local traditions, inclusive priority setting and collaborative problem solving, with ongoing dialogue and widespread resource sharing to create a culture of conservation that serves us all.
At 7 Lakes Alliance we know that the lake associations are the first line of defense in the protection of our lakes. We both respect the autonomy of the lake associations and value them as conservation partners. While all five lake associations are separate entities from 7 Lakes Alliance, we are committed to encouraging voluntary collaboration and partnership; working together to develop conservation plans, priorities, and solutions; being generous with 7 Lakes Alliance resources; and treating colleague organizations with fairness and honesty. Our goal is to offer services to our lake association partners guided by their needs and requests.
7 Lakes Alliance is committed to providing, improving, and expanding the conservation programs and services offered by our predecessor organizations, including:
- Critical invasive plant mitigation and prevention activities such as Maine’s largest Courtesy Boat Inspection program, STOP MILFOIL, and Adopt-A Shoreline;
- Maine’s largest Youth Conservation Corps and the 319 Erosion Control Program that completes more than 100 erosion control projects each year;
- An exceptional land conservation and stewardship program that works with willing land owners to secure the permanent conservation – via easement or land purchase – of lands with high recreational and/or ecological value; creates and maintains trail systems to make these lands accessible to everyone; and respects the economic and cultural values of our neighbors; and,
- Unparalleled lake quality research in partnership with Colby College that utilizes advanced scientific research and broad data collection to understand water quality trends, model lake dynamics, and develop informed remediation treatments to combat algal blooms and other water quality challenges.
The lands within our watershed offer wonderful opportunities for recreation and protection of our lakes. As most of you know, our lakes are under attack from harmful algae and invasive plants and the open spaces we hold dear – both wetlands and highlands – are under constant threat of development. It will require more cooperation, increased collaboration, and far greater resources to insure that our children and grandchildren enjoy the pristine lakes and lands of our youth. 7 Lakes Alliance is gearing up to increase our services beginning with a search for a Chief Executive Officer to lead us into the future.
I’m excited and optimistic about our future and the prospect of preserving the beautiful Belgrade watershed. I’ll continue to keep you apprised of our progress.
Thanks for your support.