The Lakes Region weekly provided a great opportunity to bring attention to L.D. 1626. I did share my early career experience, testifying before Legislative committees. However, I also tried to convey how any personal efforts pale in comparison to the work of the thousands of volunteers throughout the state over the past decade. Witnessing their actions, on Maine-owned lakes, on behalf of all Maine citizens and our tourism base, has been a humbling experience.

My frustration with the article is that it is about me at all. Others volunteering over the last decade, offer a wide variety of expertise. They are scientists, divers, economists, doctors, etc. They deal with small, detail-oriented issues through the broader issues of running community-based, not-for-profit organizations, and fund-raising. Some call them the “Maine Milfoil Militia.” They have an excellent record of leveraging “seed” money, made available to them through the Milfoil sticker program. On average, they raise over quadruple any grant funds they receive. Yet this issue is not these local about these volunteers the Milfoil Militia; it is about every Maine taxpayer.

LD 1626 is a bipartisan issue. It is a matter of paying a small amount now or exponentially higher costs later. Recreational boat users, who actually cut through milfoil beds which can spread fragments to infest shores up to miles away, are being asked for an additional $5 toward the “Stop Hitchhikers” milfoil sticker. There has been no increase since the original 2002 legislation. The amount requested under LD 1626 is less than a six-pack of beer, a few bottles of water or a sandwich to go. To those outfitting a recreational boat with safety gear, tackle, fish finders, and other sporting enhancements, this $5 has inconsequential impact on the quality of their enjoyment of Maine’s lakes or their choice to use them. In comparison, swimmers in state and town parks currently suffer the experience of encountering the long, slimy strands of milfoil plants, cut free by passing boats. Should the current situation become even worse, the economic structure of “Vacationland” will be undermined, impacting the tax base of all Mainers.

Warm summers and active tourism have witnessed “blooms” of milfoil beds and increased spread of fragments (often by boat) to new shores over the last few summers. The Militia is now being “attacked from the rear and side.” If LD 1616 is not passed before these insurgents become embedded, the cost for milfoil removal could be more than 10 times higher. Every taxpayer faces an even greater threat if LD 1626 does not pass. Tourism, local economies and tax revenue will be undermined, impacting each taxpayer’s wallet to an even greater degree in the future.

This bill will be voted on at any time now in the Maine Legislature. Contact your local representative to urge them to vote yes on LD 1612. One of the easiest ways to contact them is at www.maine.gove/legis/.gov/legis/house/hbiolist.html.

Diane Potvin

Raymond


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