The Mascoma Lake Association (MLA) was founded in 1923 “to promote neighborliness and to inspect lakefront properties in the winter months”. In those days lakefront properties consisted of summer “camps” owned by area residents who checked each other’s properties in the winter and organized a few socials in the summer. MLA’s role has changed considerably since then.
The Mascoma Lake Association is a not-for-profit 501.c.3 organization. Everything is done by volunteers. We do not have any paid staff members or offices.
Membership is open primarily to those who own property on or near Mascoma Lake, relatives of same, and various business supporters from the local area We currently mail newsletters to over 500 families, although not all these are dues paying members. We try to reach everyone who owns property on or near the lake, and those who regularly visit the lake. We also mail to a few businesses. We have about 150 families who regularly contribute to our annual expenses.
We have an annual meeting for about two hours usually the last Saturday in July. This is open to the public. The usual format is to start with refreshments and a social time, a brief business meeting, reports on the various activities of the MLA and a guest speaker on some topic of interest to the lake community. Attendance averages around 80 to 90 people. When Milfoil was first discovered a few years ago we had record attendance of over 100 people.
Our board meets monthly January through October. Board membership is open to any nominated (and elected) member in good standing with time and interest.
MLA activities are focused in six areas:
1) Lake Water Quality Testing
2) Source Water Quality Testing
3) Education on invasive (nonnative) plants and mussels
4) Milfoil Abatement
5) Boater Safety
6) Community and Social Engagement
1) Lake Water Quality Testing – MLA has a long tradition of monitoring lake water quality, with records going back over 20 years. A considerable amount of equipment has been purchased for this purpose, most recently a dissolved oxygen meter. The Town of Enfield and the City of Lebanon contribute toward the cost of having the water samples analyzed.
2) Source Water Quality Testing – MLA continues to monitor the lake’s water quality with regularly scheduled sampling. The NH Department of Environmental Services provides the analysis of samples in their lab, but MLA volunteers collect all the samples.
3) Education – For over ten years, MLA has educated its membership about the dangers of invasive plants (primarily milfoil) and nonnative mussels. This has been done by speakers at the annual meeting, newsletter articles, special mailings and door to door handouts. Our efforts have been well received, and have sparked a lot of interest. Recently we produced a flyer that was mailed to the entire town with the Enfield tax bills. Milfoil spreads easily, forming a mat like growth on the lake that kills native plants and impedes swimming and boating. The impact on property values can be severe. Early detection is the key to protecting the lake.
4) Milfoil Abatement – The first milfoil plant was found in 1999. Each year since then MLA’s milfoil abatement program has expanded. The Association purchased a used pontoon boat and equipped it with an underwater viewing box. Last year the old engine was replaced with a new, clean burning four cycle model. The pontoon boat is used to look for milfoil and carry divers out to remove it. In 2002 over 3,000 plants were removed. The Milfoil Committee includes several certified divers who volunteer to pull plants. Since milfoil ruins lake quality and depresses property values, abatement has become one of our major areas of activity.
5) Boater Safety – MLA has sponsored two Boater Safety Courses for the general public to encourage people to get their boater safety certificates to be in compliance with laws being phased in over the next few years. This includes finding meeting space, scheduling an instructor from Fish & Game, promotional mailings and posters, and refreshments during class times. The classes were both attended by 35 people, a capacity crowd. Increased usage of the lake, especially by day visitors, and higher horsepowers has made this a major issue.
6) Community and Social Engagement: The objective of this committee is to identify and implement ways to strengthen the spirit of community and provide forums for education and information for the wider public in support of the MLA mission.
In addition to these activities, the MLA also interacts with other local lake associations on milfoil problems and sends representatives to regional workshops on invasive plants. We have staffed a booth at the local fair to educate people about invasive plants and safe boating practices. We have supported and interacted with other local community groups, such as the Enfield Conservation Commission, the Enfield Village Association, the Lions Club and the local Shaker Museum.
Click HERE for a PDF of the Mascoma Lake Association bylaws.