Thanks to Robert Lively and Wynn Muller of Friends of Wilson Lake for this article!
Wilson Lake (in some sources, also known as Wilson Pond) is totally confined within the town of Wilton, nestled snugly in the southern corner of Franklin County at the intersection of Routes US2 & ME4. Its area is about 500 acres, with the deepest point of 84 feet, and a perimeter of over 7 miles. The lake is within a 25 square mile watershed that drains into Wilson Stream, the Sandy River and the Kennebec River. It is said to be named after a trapper along the west bank in the early 1700s. A unique feature of the lake is that Ice Out data has been collected yearly since 1889.
The Friends of Wilson Lake (FOWL) was created in 1989 to preserve and protect the aesthetic qualities, the recreational value, and the purity of the water of Wilson Lake and its watershed. In 2018 it was named the Maine Lake Association of the Year by Maine Lakes. It currently has 300 members. FOWL sponsors several programs and activities.
Wayne Smith “Lakes and Loons” Program
Since 2006, FOWL has sponsored a yearly loon education program for all 3rd graders at the Academy Hill School in Wilton, where they learn about loons, loon habits and habitats, and loon safety. The family of Wayne Smith provides a generous yearly donation to help fund the program. Loon experts from Biodiversity Research Institute in Portland come and talk about loons, present a loon slide show, and discuss a stuffed loon that accompanies them. Students and teachers love the program!
David Prince Memorial Fund
The David Prince Memorial Scholarship, begun in 2004, is a yearly award given to a graduating MT Blue HS senior who is pursuing higher education. It is based on scholarship, community service, extracurricular activities, and work history. Preference is given to students who are Wilton residents, have attended Wilton schools, or have a connection to Wilson Lake. Special consideration is given to those with a special interest in environmental science, biology, or education. The awardee is given a personal plaque, and their name is added to the large scholarship plaque at the high school, which lists all the winners.
Annual Audubon Loon Count
Each year on the 3rd Saturday of July, over 1,000 volunteers take part in the Maine Audubon loon count where they venture onto lakes and ponds around the state and count the number of adult and chick loons on their lakes. They go out at 7:00 am, and finish at 7:30 am. Our loon counter on Wilson Lake is Judy Landry, who together with her husband Dennis, have been doing this for 15 years. Eight adults and three chicks were spotted in 2021.
Courtesy Boat Inspection (CBI) Program
The CBI program was started on Wilson Lake in 2003, where each summer weekend boats entering and leaving the lake are inspected for invasive plants. To date Wilson Lake remains free of invasives. A record 1065 boats were inspected in 2020. Community business partners sponsor inspection weekends and a poster advertising their services is displayed in the FOWL kiosk at the boat ramp. Over 13,000 boats have been inspected since the program’s inception.
Blueberry Festival Boat Rides
FOWL offers free boat rides around the lake to Blueberry Festival attendees. 240 riders were served in 2019.
Water Testing on Wilson Lake
We employ various means of testing the water quality and water clarity of Wilson Lake, including Secchi disk readings, and readings for dissolved oxygen, temperature, and phosphorous levels. A unique program is a joint research project between FOWL and the University of Maine Farmington. The lead professors are JuIia Daly and Rachel Hovel, who coordinate the project with their students. A large red buoy sits at the “deep hole” with an 80 foot line suspended from it that includes temperature and dissolved oxygen sensors at various levels. They periodically pull up the line to download the data. Another unique feature is that it records data year-round. Periodic detailed reports can be found in our Newsletters on our website.
Report of Strategic Planning – Shaping the Future of FOWL
Under the capable facilitation of Jen Jespersen of Ecological Instincts, FOWL underwent a strategic planning process late 2020, early 2021, that resulted in the document, “Shaping the Future of FOWL: A Planning Strategy for 2021-2025.” Three broad categories were identified: Board and Membership Development; Public Relations-Outreach; and Lake Science, along with Administration. It can be seen on our website.
AVCOG Environmental Achievement Award
In May 2021, the Town of Wilton and FOWL were honored with an “Environmental Achievement Award” from the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments. With the Town, FOWL did a Watershed Survey in 2016, completed a Watershed Based Protection Plan in 2017, and received a 2018-2019 federal grant ($69,696) under the Clean Water Act 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program to target runoff, support public and school children education programs, and provide LakeSmart evaluations and certifications. We very much appreciate the award and feel it is a testament to the cooperation and good work that can come from local associations working with their local government.
Annual Meeting and Newsletter
FOWL provides its members with a newsletter three times a year, and the Annual Meeting is held in July.
Mary Ryan -- Volunteer Extraordinaire
The well-being of our lakes depends to a great extent on the work of dedicated volunteers and Wilson Lake is very fortunate to have Mary Ryan serving in that role. At the 2021 Lake Stewards of Maine annual meeting Mary was recognized for 35 years as a lake monitor. According to Roberta Hill, this many years of service puts her “in a very elite group of uber-dedicated volunteers”; it places her in the top 1% of the hundreds of volunteers who have ever served.
Asiatic clam, Bellmouth Ramshorn, Bullfrog, Brazilian Elodea, Bryozoans, Eastern Elliptio, Fishfly, Gloeotrichia, Freshwater jellyfish, Lake balls, Langmuir currents, Rusty crayfish, Volvox, Water bear ...
These are a few of the more than 150 examples of flora, fauna and lake phenomena that you can find in Lake Stewards of Maine's (LSM) newly released Maine Field Guide. Stunning photos illustrate each item. The Guide also includes descriptions of attributes such as identifying characteristics, habitat, biology & ecology.
This is a crowd-sourced compendium! LSM encourages users of the Guide to further expand this resource by contributing additional items and observations.
Dive into this catalog and experience some of the wonders of Maine lakes!
The Guide is available as a mobile app and also as an on-line catalog.
Over the past 5 decades, volunteers & others throughout Maine have produced an incredibly rich lakes data set - including more than 138,000 Secchi disk measurements, over 44,000 temperature-dissolved oxygen profiles, and many other measurements on lake chemistry & biology.
Listen to 3 lake scientists, each with several decades of experience working with Maine lakes, as they share their thoughts on the conservation & management of our lakes, the role of LSM, and the many dedicated citizen scientists who have contributed so much to an understanding of these ecosystems. Click the Show More button below for links to videos.
These video clips are from LSM’s annual conference, July 2021. Click on names to access the videos.
Matt Scott (click for video) is an aquatic biologist, a founder of ME DEP’s Lakes Program as well as of VLMP, former deputy commissioner of IF&W and Master Maine Guide. Matt shares his insights on the origins of VLMP and his recollections of many of the people involved with the lakes of our state over the years.
Dave Courtemanch (click for video) is a freshwater scientist at The Nature Conservancy and is a former director of DEP’s Division of Environmental Assessment. Dave underscores the value of long-term data - a resource made possible by LSM/VLMP volunteers monitoring Maine lakes.
Steve Norton (click for video) is Professor Emeritus in the School of Earth & Climate Sciences, University of Maine. Steve pays tribute to LSM/VLMP volunteers and explains some of the ways in which the lakes database is being used to help manage and protect this part of our natural heritage.
Also, Scott Williams (LSM Executive Director) has produced a short article about the early years of VLMP and the treasure trove of Secchi data produced by volunteers.
This presentation is a look into the geologic cycle of Maine’s lake. Dr. Norton will explore the the chronology and formation of Maine’s lakes, the evolution of the soil chemistry and water chemistry during the last 16,000 years, a bit about the major responses of lake water chemistry to this evolution, the detailed history of anthropogenic air pollution as seen through the lens of sediment chemistry, and conclude with the life-after-death history of a Maine lake.
Click for information on this free Zoom event at 2pm on Friday, August 27th
Click here to view current water quality conditions on a representative sample of Maine lakes during summer, or view which lakes have experienced ice-cover in the fall and ice-out in the spring.
LakesOfMaine.org sees more than 1,000,000 pageviews annually.
Contact us for exciting sponsorship opportunities.