Swan Lake contains no known invasive plant species, and property owners around the lake want to keep it that way. To that end, they employ a boat inspector and raise funds annually to pay him.

The owners' organization, Swan Lake Association, plans a potluck supper and silent auction for its meeting Monday, July 8, with photos and paintings from local artists up for bid. The supper begins at 6 p.m. at North Searsport Methodist Church, 753 Mt. Ephraim Road.

Local artists, including Dianne Horton, donated a total of 15 pieces of art to help raise money for Swan Lake’s boat inspector, who examines boats and other gear related to the water for invasive plant species before entering the lake.

Exotic plant species, such as milfoil, that infest lakes can deplete oxygen levels and native lake plants, and decrease fish populations. This threatens more than the ecosystem because it decreases waterfront property value, which would put over 350 properties on Swan Lake at risk, according to association member Peggy Stout.

Consequently, the association wants to stay vigilant about keeping the lake free from invasive species. It receives a state grant to help pay for an inspector but the grant stiuplates that the association must raise supplemental funds.

Carl Goodwin-Moore has inspected boats on Swan Lake for four years. He arrives at the boat ramp on Route 141 in Swanville by sunrise every Saturday and Sunday for inspections, but doesn’t mind the early mornings by the lake.

“It’s not bad getting up early and sitting by the lake and talking to boaters,” Goodwin-Moore said.

Boat inspectors have no authority to enforce inspections — compliance is completely voluntary — but Goodwin-Moore has had only one person decline an invitation to inspect while he’s worked at the lake. He inspects everything on and around the boat, including the trailer, fishing gear and live well.

Boaters appreciate the effort to keep the lake free of milfoil and other invasives, so they don’t mind the inspections, he said. It takes only a quarter-inch of milfoil to infest a lake, according to Goodwin-Moore.

If he suspects a plant of being invasive, he places it in a bag to be sent to a state-run lab for inspection and documents details about the boater and where they were previously. Boaters found to have transported invasive species on their boats could receive a fine of up to $2,500.

“If I see a plant I don’t think is a maple leaf or something, we have to document it,” Goodwin-Moore said.

Eurasian water-milfoil was first discovered in a small Maine pond in 2003 and has been deemed almost impossible to eradicate. There are about 35 Maine lakes with exotic invasive plant infestations, according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The most important aspects of boat inspections are raising awareness of the risks of exotic invasive species and educating boaters about how they can decrease the spread of invasive species that might be carried on their gear.

“Once milfoil gets into the lake, it can take over the water plant life and also depletes the oxygen," Goodwin-Moore said. "So it affects the fish, but it also takes over the native plant life. … What we’re doing is trying to prevent them from going in the lake.”