2009 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 , 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: May 1, 2009 through January 30,2010
Project Amount: $299,249
RFA: Collaborative Science And Technology Network For Sustainability (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Sustainability


Four objectives have been established to support sustainable lake management:
(1) Create baseline spatial databases of residential development and lake characteristics;
(2) Develop a spatial economic model of residential development to determine the role of various factors in influencing the spatial distribution of residential development;
(3) Develop a spatial risk assessment tool to examine the vulnerability of specific lake characteristics to new residential development; and
(4) Create a practical planning tool using modeling‐based alternative futures scenarios to support lake management, land‐use planning and economic development decisions.

Progress Summary:

Work Progress
Objective 1: We continued to explore the usefulness of different data products summarizing development patterns throughout Maine's landscape and lake characteristics across Maine's Great Ponds. 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 non-government organizations (NGOs) databases describing water quality, morphology, fish inventory, lake management activities, public infrastructure, recreation infrastructure, and public access. Over time, greater interest and attention is being given to data products that we have developed using primary data. For example, our stakeholders/partners (Maine Congress of Lake Associations and Maine Volunteer LakeMonitoring Program) indicated significant interest in the collection of information about lake management institutions (e.g., lake associations and NGOs), citizen‐sciencelake volunteers, and lakeshore households.
Objective 2: We initiated development of a community‐scale model based on parcel‐level data and tax
assessment records for one partner community (city of Ellsworth, ME). We selected this study area because they had appropriate spatial data, an interest in learning more about change in their community and their lakes, and planning staff who could act on new data resources and research results. Several of the communities that we reached out to during the summer of 2008 were not interested in lake‐oriented research and/or lacked the resources to help us assess and model residential development.
Objective 3: In response to stakeholder/partner feedback, we focused our vulnerability research activities on devising strategies for filling gaps in data describing residential land use, recreation patterns and other lake characteristics using citizen‐science/survey-based data, worked with state agency partners to validate empirically their methods for describing vulnerability to invasive aquatic plants, and collaborated with state‐scale stakeholders to understand their risk assessment and vulnerability analysis needs. Margaret Snell, M.S. student in the School of Economics, completed her M.S. thesis project studying the role of lake associations in achieving sustainable lake management. Her thesis research addressed individual and institutional challenges associated with assessing and responding to different types of risks and levels of vulnerability. Ann Speers, M.S. student in the School of Economics, developed an initial risk assessment tool to examine vulnerability to milfoil that allows for direct empirical testing of the tool used by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
Objective 4: In response to stakeholder feedback and community disinterest and constraints, we have revised our plans for creating practical planning tools. We held meetings with relevant stakeholders (Maine's Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, Maine Congress of Lake Associations, Maine Department of Environmental Protections) to acquire data, seek input, and acquire feedback on ongoing and proposed future research, including a technical report summarizing our interactions with communities around a sample of 11 lakes selected to represent variation in social, economic and biophysical characteristics. Based on these discussions, we are revisiting our original plans for the practical planning tools given data gaps and interests of our community and state partners. Key lake stakeholders have shared their primary information gaps and interests with our research team. Numerous stakeholders shared concerns about educating and understanding individual lakefront households and emphasized information gaps related to how these households make decisions about land management, structures and recreation. Investigators Bell and Leahy were the keynote speakers at the Annual Meeting of Maine's Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program (VLMP). This was an excellent opportunity to highlight our research project and get feedback from VLMP staff and citizen‐science volunteers.
Difficulties Encountered
Data and staffing gaps continue to pose modeling challenges for our research team. Our research has  exposed significant data gaps describing residential development and lakes. In addition, two key team
members of the original research team (Webster, Vaux) with limnology research backgrounds are not actively associated with the University of Maine. Webster left the University of Maine in 2008; Vaux is now only partially associated with the University of Maine. Their applied biophysical expertise has not been replaced. Investigators Bell and Leahy, who are both social scientists, have become the core and lead researchers of this research team. Stakeholder feedback, though not difficult, is changing our plans for research and tool development. As mentioned above, numerous influential and important lake-oriented groups are demanding more information about social and economic aspects of lake management. In particular, these groups are interested in how households make decisions that influence lake use and health and how institutions such as lake associations and citizen‐science programs can complement federal and state government regulation and management activities.


Future Activities:

Adjust research design and decision support tools to match the sustainability science research needs of
our stakeholders.
Expand network of partners statewide.

Journal Articles:

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

Supplemental Keywords:

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
  • 2008 Progress Report
  • 2010 Progress Report
  • Final Report