Friday, August 5, 2016

Tree talk - trees and clean water - By Robert Fogg

In Maine, we are extremely lucky to have a multitude of beautiful, clean lakes and streams. One of the reasons our waters are so clean is our overabundance of trees and other vegetation. Trees and vegetation absorb rainwater and hold it back, which gives it a chance to evaporate or sink into the ground, rather than run directly into a water body. When rain is allowed to run directly into a lake or stream, it washes phosphorus and other material from the shore into the water body with it. Phosphorus feeds algae, and algae is not a good thing, not as far as water quality is concerned anyway.  

Over the years, we’ve seen the shoreland-zone tree cutting rules become more and more of a priority, and with good reason. It’s a lot easier to keep a lake clean than it is to restore it once it declines. I have found the current shoreland-zone tree cutting rules to be, in general, very fair and a good balance between the desire for a lake view and a need to maintain water quality. If you own lakefront property, you are one of the stewards of our precious natural resource. 

Tree cutting and pruning for a lake view is allowed, to a certain extent, but must be performed within the shoreland-zone regulations. Not only is excessive cutting bad for water quality but it can be very expensive in the way of fines and mitigation. Many towns now require a permit for any shoreland-zone tree cutting. Before cutting, check with your town code enforcement officer, and/or be sure to hire a competent professional who cares as much about water quality as you do.

The author is general manager of Q-Team Tree Service in Naples and is a licensed arborist. He can be contacted at 207-693-3831 or

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