Exciting things are happening in Bridgton on behalf of our lakes and ponds. With the opening of the Maine Lake Science Center, lake protection will climb to a higher level.
Last August, the Board of Directors of Lakes Environmental Association purchased a 17-acre property adjacent to Pondicherry Park for the center. Site work was completed in November. By December, attention turned to the building—a former family cabin tucked into the woods.
Acting as CEO for the building project, LEA’s Executive Director Peter Lowell has overseen the changes to the structure. The center offers a ﬁfty-seat conference room, three researcher housing units, an education center, research lab and ofﬁces.
Lowell says, “Although the center is new, work on the concept has been underway for seven years, starting when LEA became concerned that Maine’s lakes were not beneﬁtting from advances in water quality testing and research. Staff visited several lake programs around the country and began to develop relationships and partnerships with Maine’s academic community.
Two years ago, we formed the Lake Science Advisory Board, made up of lake researchers and experts from Maine to California. The board is a collaborative effort among researchers who are working together to identify research needs and priorities and to pursue research grants.
As we learned about new technologies and new tests, we began to expand our lake monitoring program to include temperature sensors, sediment analysis, algae research and even the hi-tech remote sensing buoy. This year, we have added a ﬂuorometer to take ﬁeld measurements of chlorophyll at various depths.”
While various local contractors remodeled the building, the LEA staff and numerous volunteers, including board members, completed the menial tasks. The ﬁnished product will be a state-of-the-art facility. Dr. Bridie McGreavy, former educator of LEA, summer 2015 will serve as the center’s ﬁrst consulting executive director beginning in 2016.
McGreavy is excited about the potential. “The Maine Lake Science Center will serve as a partnership hub for lake-related research at local, state, national, and eventually international scales,” she says. “We intend to use sustainability science to help connect biophysical and social science with decision making about lake policy issues in many different contexts. We want to improve knowledge and education about lakes, and we also want to involve people in the science in ways that will improve the relevance, trust in, and use of science for many types of lake protection strategies.”
The Moose Pond Association fully supports this endeavor and is excited about learning from additional testing procedures. With the advent of the Maine Lake Science Center, the testing regime will be revamped. LEA’s researcher, Amanda Pratt, has already been conducting new water quality tests, such as for the algae Gloeotrichia, that will develop a baseline of scientiﬁc data for Moose Pond. HOBO sensors are anchored in each basin, providing temperature readings every ﬁfteen minutes. Combined with the data collected by LEA for the last 44 years, this current research will identify trends happening below the surface.
Once more researchers are working at the Maine Lake Science Center, it is hoped that we’ll have a better handle on how to bring data and practice together to protect the Moose Pond and the other lakes in the region.