2010 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 , 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, 2010 through April 30,2011
Project Amount: $299,249
RFA: Collaborative Science And Technology Network For Sustainability (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Sustainability


Historically, lake management research has rarely been conducted in a collaborative or integrative manner. We designed our CNS project as an integrative, interdisciplinary research project to support sustainable lake management. Using Maine as our study area, our four research objectives are as follows: (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. Adopting a sustainability science research approach that embraces stakeholder involvement and co-production of knowledge between researchers and scientists, we have received constructive and strong feedback from stakeholders about these objectives and the relevance and utility of different types of research and decision‐support tools to sustainable lake management. Our science‐based research program is striving to fill information gaps and management needs so that scientific knowledge can more effectively be linked with management, institutional and household actions to achieve lake and community goals.

Progress Summary:

Work Progress

Objective 1: We initiated primary data collection to describe the attitudes and behavior of lakefront households. Ann Speers, M.S. Student in the School of Economics, took the lead in developing this research project in collaboration with multiple key stakeholders. We continued to develop unique data products summarizing development patterns throughout Maine's landscape and lake characteristics across Maine's Great Ponds. We completed comparative analyses of development summaries based on different U.S. Census Bureau data products, revealing major challenges when applying these data to rural areas and raising interesting questions about the spatial distribution of housing and population. We maintained our baseline database describing housing, population, land cover, water quality, morphology, fish inventory, lake management activities, public infrastructure, recreation infrastructure, public access and primary data that we collected on lake management institutions (e.g., lake associations and non‐government organizations).

Objective 2: We continued to develop a community‐scale model based on parcel‐level data and tax assessment records for one partner/pilot community (City of Ellsworth, ME). Daniel Kary, M.S. Student in the Ecology and Environmental Science Program, developed an extensive parcel‐scale history of development and initiated statistical modeling of changes in development, stormwater flow and nonpoint source pollution in this lake‐rich and growing mid‐coast Maine community. Daniel is collaborating with city staff on the development of this community‐scale model. Our intention is that the tool he develops will serve as a pilot for other communities.

Objective 3: We focused our vulnerability research activities on development, invasive aquatic plants and recreation. We conducted primary research to get expert opinions of recreation usage across Maine lakes. We updated our risk assessment model of the spread of milfoil across waterbodies in Maine and met with key state agency staff responsible for management of these invasions. We developed empirical regression models to validate the expert‐opinion based tool currently used by state managers to assess vulnerability to milfoil invasion.

Objective 4: We devoted significant time and energy to the development of useful planning and management decision‐support tools. We held meetings with key lake stakeholders (Maine Departmen of Environmental Protection, Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Congress of Lake Associations) to acquire data, seek input, and acquire feedback on ongoing and proposed future research. Ann Speers, M.S. Student in the School of Economics, developed and implemented a survey of lakeshore households to help inform these stakeholders about household‐level assessments of vulnerability and household behavior. Daniel Kary, M.S. Student in Ecology and Environmental Science, met with community planning staff to assess the usefulness and relevance of select planning tools. We continue to revisit our original plans for the practical planning tools, given data gaps and interests of our community and state partners.

Difficulties Encountered

Staffing gaps continue to pose some challenges. In response to these gaps, we have adjusted the aims of our research program to match the expertise of the lead investigators and their students. Fortunately, this shift matches the demands of our key stakeholders and partners in Maine. Rather than have additional biophysical research completed, these stakeholders are demanding more social science research, especially research that: helps managers better understand household behaviors and attitudes; helps citizen science and lake association programs design their education and outreach programs; and advances ongoing programs designed to change land management behaviors in watersheds throughout the state of Maine.

Future Activities:

  • Complete state‐scale vulnerability assessments.
  • Complete community‐based modeling analysis and develop related decision‐support tool.
  • Complete household research to improve understanding of development and land management decisions and assess household perceptions of different threats and conservation practices.
  • Communicate findings with 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, environmental sustainability, ecological design, community based, alternative infrastructure design, energy efficiency, sustainable urban environment, environmental education

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2007 Progress Report
  • 2008 Progress Report
  • 2009 Progress Report
  • Final Report