Gray, Maine—The Little Sebago Lake Association (LSLA) has received a $7,500.00 grant from the Cumberland County Fund of Maine of the Maine Community Foundation to develop a Little Sebago Loon Monitoring Program; to study and document loon behaviors, engage and encourage citizen science participation, and implement sustainable conservation actions.
Because the loon population on Little Sebago is vulnerable to stressors, coupled with the potential impacts of climate change, more information is needed on the individual performances (i.e., reproductive success), as well as specific movements of individuals to ensure long term sustainability. This grant will allow us to collaborate with a wildlife research biologist in a two-year program of volunteer “Loon Ranger” and “data gathering” training, culminating in a locally run effort of ongoing conservation practices to benefit loons and to promote citizen science.
Loons are known to be sentinels of the aquatic systems they occupy. Little Sebago, at present, enjoys a healthy loon population, but it wasn’t all that long ago that our loons were nearly gone. Other nearby states have seen the sudden, unexplained declines of territorial loons on their lakes. Little Sebago is taking this pro-active step to ensure our majestic loons remain.
Our program also envisions developing a “Loons in the Classroom” program where even our elementary students learn about the chain of life surrounding Loons. Creating interest and impacting knowledge at an early age will further ensure the ongoing success of the Loon Monitoring Program. As a matter of fact, LSLA’s loon committee chair, Sharon Young, had an opportunity just last week to demonstrate and talk about loons, using Maine Audubon’s Loon Kit, in a 1st grade class in Windham and n a 3rd grade class in Raymond on their Grandparents Day event. Many students had encountered loons of Little Sebago or elsewhere and were thrilled to learn more about them and about how to keep them safe.
Little Sebago Lake Association’s mission is to protect, restore, and improve our Lake’s water quality and fragile ecosystem. We create and nurture a community of lake stewards, educate users on lake safety, and always be mindful that human needs must be balanced with the needs of the natural environment. Loons are a much-loved part of our lake community.