This summer the Lake Fairlee Association started a Greeter Program at the state boat launch. The goal of the initiative was to raise the awareness of boaters about all aspects of milfoil, the tenacious plant that is taking hold on the bottom of Lake Fairlee. Numerous other lakes and ponds around New England have similar programs.
The program focused on sharing of information. It took the early part of the summer to get the state permit and guidelines in place. Then, beginning in mid-July, volunteers spent several hours each Saturday and Sunday greeting boaters. They asked boaters if they were aware of the milfoil problem in the lake, and shared general information about the plant.
Two key discussion points were how to avoid spreading the plant within Lake Fairlee and how not to unintentionally take it from our lake to another body of water. Boaters were then handed a pamphlet which had bulleted directions on how to clean boat bottoms, motors, trailers, fishing gear, and diving gear after leaving any body of water. The information pamphlet also highlighted a notice about the $199 fine that the state will impose upon anyone who transports invasive aquatic species from one body of water to another.
The Greeter Program continued through the end of August. Response was very positive. With one exception the interactions were consistently friendly and informative. The boaters appreciated the crash course to prevent the spread of milfoil and many were surprised to learn that there was a state fine. The volunteers felt good that they were able to do something concrete to contribute to the preservation of Lake Fairlee.
We are indebted to the many people who volunteered their time and energy to get this program off the ground. Next summer we hope to get an earlier start and reach more boaters.