~ Important Notice ~
These are very uncertain times: protecting personal and collective health is surely foremost on everyone’s mind. We hope this message finds you all well, and safely sheltering in place.
The COVID-19 pandemic has pretty much changed things overnight, and precautions that are now in place to protect public health are already having significant impacts upon “business as usual” for all of us. Yet the threats to Maine lakes still loom very much, as before. Extreme weather events, shorter periods of ice cover, and new invasive species infestations necessitate the continued monitoring of our lakes to the extent that it can be done safely. While all the world is rightly focused on tamping down a pandemic, we are continuing to explore ways to make it possible and safe for you to continue your good work on behalf of Maine’s lakes. During the nearly 50-year history of this organization, we have never faced such a challenge.
LSM staff recently met to consider the safest and most-efficient way for us to be able continue our work, while complying with evolving guidelines to ensure our and your protection from the COVID-19 virus.
Effective immediately, and whenever possible, LSM staff will be working from their individual home settings. Fortunately, we have the technology to do so in such a way that we will not significantly reduce our availability to all of you and the general public. There may be a slight delay in our response to phone calls, but email will come to us directly on our remote devices. We do not anticipate any reduction in the availability to the 24/7 technical support that is currently available to all LSM lake monitors/stewards throughout the year.
We do anticipate that the following changes may be necessary over the next several months:
> New volunteer training workshops that involve group meetings may not take place this spring and summer. However, we are developing online video sessions for the indoor component of workshops, and the presentations will be available to all of those who have expressed interest in being trained and certified in 2020. The on-the-water component of the workshops may not be available this summer, unless health risk restrictions for group meetings are lowered or dropped. The workshops on the water will hopefully be available in the spring of 2021 for all who have become familiar with the information in the videos. We also hope to provide some new opportunities to learn, network, share and receive technical assistance via online platforms such as Zoom, YouTube, and Google Drive. So please stay tuned!
> For currently-certified Secchi & DO/Temp monitors who need on-the-water re-certification this summer, those requirements will be waived for this season if workshops are canceled, in which case you will need to be re-certified in 2021. In the meantime, Secchi monitors may re-certify online via this link. We are currently working out the details for the annual MeterFest, at which LSM and DEP staff conduct a full quality-assurance check, at no cost, on dissolved oxygen (DO) monitoring equipment that is being used by LSM volunteers who are certified to monitor DO. Please be stay tuned for an upcoming announcement within the next several days.
> LSM’s Annual Conference, scheduled for July 25, is also uncertain. Given that the conference is often attended by ~150 individuals, our ability to safely congregate in such numbers will depend upon the status of the pandemic. We should know whether or not the conference will take place by early to mid-summer.
While many of the activities we have all come to take for granted may not take place this summer, some will be less impacted. Much of what we all do as we monitor the health of our lakes, for example, can still be done, even while adhering to the strange new practice of ‘social distancing.’ Indeed, for those of us who love lakes, spending time in the open air, cruising out to the deep station to take a Secchi reading, or paddling (at a safe distance) with our fellow plant patroller while searching the shallows for possible invaders, will no doubt help to revive us and keep us sane and healthy.
As always, we will send out packets of updated information and data forms to monitors this spring, to ensure that you have the materials needed to monitor/survey your lake. Please let us know if you would prefer to have this information sent to you via email.
As indicated above, much of LSM’s work will continue without significant interruption for the remainder of the year. But some things will surely change and much is still unknown. We are all in this together, and we greatly appreciate your understanding and support. We will continue to keep you informed as circumstances evolve.
Wishing you all safety and wellness,
The Staff at LSM
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