2008 Progress Report: Sustainable Lake Management in Maine’s Changing Landscape

EPA Grant Number: R833344
Title: Sustainable Lake Management in Maine’s Changing Landscape
Investigators: Bell, Kathleen P. , Leahy, Jessica , Sader, Stephen , Vaux, Peter , Webster, Katherine , Wilson, Jeremy
Current Investigators: Bell, Kathleen P. , Leahy, Jessica , Wilson, Jeremy
Institution: University of Maine
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: May 1, 2007 through January 30, 2010 (Extended to December 30, 2011)
Project Period Covered by this Report: February 1, 2008 through January 30,2009
Project Amount: $299,249
RFA: Collaborative Science And Technology Network For Sustainability (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Sustainability


  1. To create baseline spatial databases of residential development and lake characteristics;
  2. To develop a spatial economic model of residential development to determine the role of various factors in influencing the spatial distribution of residential development;
  3. To develop a spatial risk assessment tool to examine the vulnerability of specific lake characteristics to new residential development; and
  4. To create a practical planning tool using modeling‐based alternative futures scenarios to support lake management, land-use planning, and economic development decisions.

Progress Summary:

Objective (1): Baseline data collection describing residential development and lake characteristics is supporting creation of numerous data resources and tools as well as state‐scale analyses of several lake management issues. Residential development data organized include NLCD land cover data, U.S. Census of Population and Housing data, and U.S. Census building permit data. A broader lake database integrates these data with state and other NGO databases describing water quality, morphology, fish inventory, lake management activities, public infrastructure, recreation infrastructure, and public access. In response to identified data gaps, we collected primary data on lake management institutions (e.g., lake associations and non‐government organizations) to supplement these other data and capture heterogeneity in management institutions. Our data products are unique because they integrate information on biophysical and social aspects of Maine lakes.

Objective (2): Multiple spatial economic models of residential development are being used to compare and contrast results across spatial and temporal scales, data sources, and statistical approaches. An initial spatial economic model of residential development was developed and estimated using the NLCD land cover data from 1992 and 2001 to describe change in levels and patterns of development throughout Maine. The results of this model were combined with a preliminary model of water quality, facilitating forecasts of land cover and water quality. Because on concerns over the quality and timing of the NLCD data, alternative models to describe future residential growth pressure are being developed to understand and document landscape change. Community‐scale models based on parcel‐level data and tax assessment records are also being tested.

Objective (3): Vulnerability research activities are integrating our understanding of management issues related to development, recreation, water quality, and aquatic invasive plants. In response to gaps in data describing residential land use, recreation patterns, and other lake characteristics, we initiated a citizen‐science based approach to monitor changes in residential development and recreation use around lakes by establishing a partnership with the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring program. Using a mail‐survey, we asked this network of lake monitors to document recent changes around their lakes and provide information about threats, vulnerability, management issues, and the capacity of communitybased groups to address lake management issues. We are also employing statistical approaches to assess water quality trends over time and space. The trends analysis, the focus of an M.S. thesis (Tylka 2009), explores vulnerability to changes in water quality and will generate a final report and spatial database summarizing these trends. A second ongoing M.S. thesis project (Snell) is exploring the role of lake associations in achieving sustainable lake management.

Objective (4): Interactions with communities around a sample of 11 lakes, selected to represent variation in social, economic, and biophysical characteristics, are informing our development of practical planning tools. In addition, these interactions are also supporting database design, modeling, and vulnerability assessment activities. During the Summer of 2008, students visited the 11 lakes serving as the study areas of our community‐based research. Students interviewed relevant lake management and town officials to document attitudes and views of lake characteristics, lake services, potential threats to these lakes, management needs, and information gaps. They also identified and acquired community‐scale secondary data sources and initiated some primary data collection. Students collected detailed data describing the lakes' setting, surrounding development, public access, and recreational use. By boating around the perimeter of the lakes, students created spatial databases of housing and recreational infrastructure using GPS technology and also documented landscape characteristics and views using digital cameras.

Meetings were held with relevant stakeholders (Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, Maine Congress of Lake Associations) to acquire data, seek input, and acquire feedback on our proposed research.

Difficulties encountered

Gaps in data to describe development and recreation patterns are posing challenges. In response to these gaps, alternative data sources and models are being developed and tested. Stakeholder feedback, though not necessarily difficult, is changing our plans for tool development. Numerous groups are demanding more information about social and economic aspects of lake management.

Personnel change


Expenditures to date

Of the initial budget of $299,249, $139,596.04 has been spent.

Future Activities:

Complete state‐scale vulnerability assessments.
Complete second‐round of pilot study research to test practical planning tools on the ground.
Organize feedback to baseline database resources, baseline analysis of great ponds, and communication of results and data to the public.
Expand network of partners statewide and within the pilot communities.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 44 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

land-use change, residential development, lake management, land-use planning, futures analysis, land-use modeling, economics, spatial analysis, GIS, limnology, land conservation, water quality, lake-based recreation, shoreline development, invasive species, sustainable industry/business, scientific discipline, RFA, pollution prevention, Technology for Sustainable Environment, sustainable environment, energy, environmental monitoring, environmental sustainability, green design, environmental education, land use, ecological design, energy efficiency, sustainable urban environment, sustainable water use, alternative infrastructure design
, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Monitoring, green design, sustainable water use, ecological design, environmental sustainability, alternative infrastructure design, community based, sustainable urban environment, energy efficiency, environmental education

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2007 Progress Report
  • 2009 Progress Report
  • 2010 Progress Report
  • Final Report