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Branch Lake Association Volunteer Opportunities

Loon Count: Every year on the 3rd Saturday in July, we count loons between 7AM and 7:30 AM. This requires very little (less than 1 hour) of training. Loon counts, especially when viewed over a period of a few years, provides some great information about the overall health of the lake. We have an InfoGraphic (available here) which tells a bit about the importance of counting loons.

Be A Loon Counter

IPP Ranger:
This is probably our greatest volunteer need. As little could be more catastrophic to Branch Lake than an infestation of invasive aquatic plants, the single biggest threat to Branch Lake. In 2021, Alamoosook Lake, less than 15 miles from Branch Lake, discovered an infestation of invasive variable milfoil, one of the more aggressive aquatic plant invaders; having a nearby infested waterbody greatly increases the risk of an infestation. In 2023, milfoil was found in Cobbossee Lake in Winthrop, Maine.  It is a real threat! As with many things, early detection makes eradication easier.

IPP rangers survey a section of the lake shoreline, usually from a canoe or kayak and look for invasive plants. This requires about 8 hours of training and about 4 hours to perform a survey. Our InfoGraphic on invasive aquatic plants can be found here.

IPP Ranger

Lake Smart Surveyor: LakeSmart is a program where we are invited to visit a property and talk about how to reduce a property’s effect on the lake’s ecology. Requires more investment in training than the other opportunities mentioned and provides a great opportunity to provide 1:1 education about how to help keep Branch Lake clear, clean and beautiful. If you enjoy public outreach and teaching, this is a great place to volunteer.

Request a Survey
Become a Lake Smart Surveyor

Water Quality Monitor: Our Water quality Monitors go out on the lake 4-6 times over the course of the summer and measure key variables of lake water quality, including water clarity, temperature and oxygen level (important for fish!) and on some occasions (and as budget allows) samples for chemical composition. On some occasions, the monitoring will occur as soon as practical after a heavy rainfall - this helps us identify areas for follow up.

Be a Water Quality Monitor

Ice-in / Ice-out Maine’s lakes are clear in no small part due to the fact that historically they have been covered with ice and snow for significant parts of the year. A short ice season can portend other problems in the lake. Checking for ice in / ice out is easy; it does require that the observer be a year round resident (or an unusually dedicated seasonal resident).

Ice-in/ice-out dates are often reported to Lake Stewards of Maine. Here is there description of ice-in/ice-out.

Lloyd Ireland, a distinguished lake scientist who has studied Maine lakes for his entire career, gave a fascinating presentation in 2020 about why ice dates are important for lakes, and what the changes in when the ice forms on the lakes heralds for our magnificent Maine lakes.

Be an Ice In - Ice Out Monitor

Lake Navigation Marker Monitor: There are 16 navigation markers on Branch Lake, either to identify a hazard or to mark a passage channel (for example, at the narrows). Each winter, we typically lose 1 or 2 markers to the ice. This program surveys the lake in May of each year, and works with the City Lake Steward to replace missing markers This work helps make boating safer and also protects the lake - a boat striking a rock can damage a boat enough that fuel and oil can spill into the water, damaging the ecology of the lake.

Be a Navigation Marker Monitor