Letter to Membership June 2017

16 Jun
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A bit of History and Background

The Moosehead Lake Fisheries Coalition (MLFC) was founded by a group concerned about the downward spiral of the Moosehead Lake fishery and the apparent lack of response from Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W) in the mid 1980’s. Early years were very contentious with MLFC proposing many ideas and IF&W saying no to most. Some of those ideas were pretty far out, but some were certainly worthwhile. Although little was accomplished, we got the attention of IF&W and a Focus Group was formed by IF&W to address the problem. MLFC was well represented on the Focus Group. A management Plan for the Lake was written with objectives and measurable goals. A lack of forage for the game fish, impacting fish growth was thought to be a key to the problem.

Early successes for MLFC included moving smelt eggs on burlap from spawning areas in other waters to Moosehead, done by our volunteers with IF&W permits. We also cleaned tributary streams of beaver dams and debris to allow smelt runs and the passage of spawning salmon and brook trout. We also managed to get a permit to purchase and stock 3000 brook trout to the Lake. Our volunteers also worked with IF&W to transport live smelts trapped by IF&W from Frost Pond and Thistle Pond to tributaries of Moosehead Lake. These efforts took a lot of hard volunteer labor, wear and tear on our trucks, and gasoline. Our volunteers were willing and able, although the volunteer group was small.

In 1999 MLFC undertook a Mysis shrimp and plankton sampling and study. We did the sampling and had Unity College do the analysis. This was a three year study. MLFC also participated in water quality and productivity sampling during this time.

MLFC initiated a smelt larvae stocking program in 2003 with a plan to quantify the success of the program. Collecting samples of smelts through the ice in winter for pathology test, collecting spawning smelts for the hatchery, and transporting smelt larvae to Moosehead for stocking were also labor intensive, but we found volunteers to do the work. Our program met with resistance from IF&W from the start but we managed to continue stocking smelt larvae until 2013. This program ceased due to parameters initiated by IF&W which caused the smelt larvae supplier to stop providing the larvae for our use.

IF&W information indicated that the number of small lake trout was impacting the quality of the fishery. MLFC responded by organizing a summer togue derby to harvest some of the small togue in 2008. We also organized the first winter togue derby with help from the Moosehead Lake Chamber of Commerce. The winter effort was transferred to The Natural Resource Education Center at Moosehead (NREC) and continues. MLFC also ran a bass and perch derby in 2014 to attempt to impact the invasive species.

Our organization has continued to keep the Moosehead Lake fishery a high priority at the local IF&W office. The Moosehead fishery has improved significantly since the mid 1980’s. We’ll take some credit for the improvement. However, even with all our efforts and successes, our organization suffers a lack of volunteer support. Our membership remains strong but those willing and able to take an active part has shrunk to the point where we need a new approach. We have not been able to recruit new Board members and officers, and let’s face it, our volunteer crew has aged.

For the reasons stated above, your current Board has decided to take a new approach and reorganize to a 6 member committee charged with selecting projects that MLFC can fund utilizing our treasury. This will continue our mission to improve the Moosehead Lake fishery. This committee will work with the local IF&W biologists to support projects they identify and which our committee believes has merit and is within our funding ability. We currently have about $25,000 in our treasury.

The project selection committee will initially include the following members.

Ken Rodgerson 695-2662 Klrodg@aol.com

Tom O’Neill

Mike Boutin

Carl Morrison

Steve Cole 461-0027 reelaffr@gwi.net

Larry Farrington 217-8186 moosehead4ever@aol.com

Ken will chair the committee, Steve will keep notes, and Carl will be treasurer.

Projects currently under consideration include:

 

-Brook trout spawning beds for Moosehead Lake

-Radio tags for tracking stocked hatchery salmon

-Nets and other equipment for evaluating smelt abundance

-Rotary salmon trap for capture and tagging of small salmon in tributary waters

-Weir parts to allow operation of two small weirs on small trout and salmon tributaries at once

 

If you have any concerns regarding the spending of our current treasury or have ideas of other initiatives, please make one of the above individuals aware of your concerns or ideas.

We will keep the membership posted on the committee decisions and project updates. Information will be posted on the MLFC website and by an occasional newsletter.

We hope the membership understands the need for a new approach and will continue to support the MLFC.

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