Annual Meeting Minutes 2019

August 4, 2019

Approximately 45 people gathered at the Taylor Pond Yacht Club for the Annual Meeting.

President Dana Little began the meeting by introducing board members who were present: Ed Gray (treasurer), Susan Trask (secretary), Woody Trask, Barbara Mitchell, Bill Turner, Larry Faiman, and Luci Merin (member-elect).

Dana announced that the featured speaker, Erica Kidd of the Auburn Water District, would not be able to attend because of a death in her family.

The minutes from last year’s annual meeting were approved after some clarification regarding the terms of board members.

Dana reviewed the issues that came about in the last year:

  • Hotel Rd. Bridge After great anticipation, we learned that the Hotel Road bridge construction will not happen this year. The State had planned to do the construction this year, but all of the bids for highway construction came in higher than anticipated, so several of the projects had to be put off for another year. Bettyann Sheats did discover that the plan has also been changed from building new (bigger) culverts, to a single bridge span, which actually may be a better plan.
  • Agricultural Zoning As most Auburn residents know, the Mayor and the City Council are wrestling with some proposed changes to the agricultural zone that may have the potential to increase development for both watersheds. Such development could lead to increased phosphorous runoff. At last year’s meeting, many attendees signed a petition which Barbara Mitchell carried to the Zoning Board. For various reasons, our proposed amendment to the previous zoning change (which would have allowed a major construction project at Lost Valley) was rejected. Because of the ongoing Ag Zone issues, we have let this issue go for now. We will continue to monitor the process.
  • Fire Safety Once again we helped the Auburn Fire Department win a $500 grant from a federal agency to conduct a chipping day. About a dozen homeowners from around Taylor Pond participated by having the AFD chip their collected brush. Clearing and disposing of dead and low-hanging brush is one important way to reduce the risk of brush fires. The area around Taylor Pond is densely populated, but also surrounded by trees, which makes it vulnerable to such fires.
  • Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Meeting Dana a board member Donna Morin met with Erica Kidd at the Auburn Water District to discuss issues of mutual interest. As noted above, Ms Kidd had planned to be the featured speaker at our meeting, but had to cancel at the last minute because of a death in her family.

LakeSmart Grant The TPA Shoreline Improvement Grant Program is still up and running. Dana is a certified LakeSmart evaluator, and he will come and inspect your property for you to make recommendations about lake-friendly improvements. He emphasized that he does not report any problems to anyone but the homeowner! He will point out problems and suggest ways for you to fix them in addition to consulting on improvement projects you may have in mind. Once your project is completed, you may submit your invoices for up to $500 in reimbursement if the work complies with best practices. No grant applications have been received this year, and only one was received last year. Don’t miss this great opportunity to not only beautify your property but also help protect Taylor Pond!

Secretary job Susan is retiring as secretary after 14 years of serving in that capacity, so we are looking for someone to take that position. She has been handling communications and archives plus the yearly newsletter. However, those two tasks do not necessarily have to be done by the same person. Susan received a very warm appreciation from those present.

Treasurer’s Report Ed reported that he has added twelve more emails to our membership list. We currently have 124 dues-paying members. We have a balance of $29,694.

New board members Dana proposed the slate of directors for a vote to include returning members Bill Turner, Woody Trask, Barbara Mitchell, and Marc Tardif, and new member Luci  Merin. The slate was approved unanimously.

Water quality report Woody reported that he and Michael Heskanen have both been working on water quality testing. Michael does weekly Secchi Disk readings and Woody conducts the more thorough monthly analyses. We had a really good year in 2018 with especially low phosphorous readings. It’s been good so far this year as well.

There was some discussion about the globs of green slime that we all seem to be seeing. Dana says they are metaphyton, which is a collection of algae in long strings. When it dies it turns brown, which is why we sometimes see brownish water near the edges of the water. There is no relationship between the green blobs and water quality.

Someone asked, “What should we never never do?” Answer: Never fertilize, and don’t create a lawn right up to the water.  Create a buffer strip instead! Another question was asked about pollen; it is not harmful.  One person is concerned about milfoil found in the lake. Dana said there is a difference between milfoil and invasive milfoil, which can take hold in a shallow lake like ours in a very short period of time.  You can take a sample to the Lake Stewards of Maine and they will identify it if you are not sure what you are seeing.

Dana reported that he attended the Lake Associations of Maine conference, where he learned about an outbreak of toxic algae at East Pond in Smithfield (north of Augusta). With the support of the federal government (at a cost of about a half million dollars) they applied alum, which bonds with the phosphorous. It appears to be working. This treatment will also be used in Lake Auburn to help prevent another fish kill. It’s a delicate process which can kill the fish if applied incorrectly. We are fortunate to have not had an algae bloom here. At the Lake Stewards of Maine meeting he attended, they talked about global warming and its effect on Maine lakes. With wetter winters, drier summers, and earlier ice-outs, Taylor Pond remains especially vulnerable. This is all the more reason to stay vigilant with our lake-friendly practices.

Boat ramp: Questions were raised about the status of the boat ramp. Greg Cyr, who owns the Campground where it is located, has been frustrated by boaters misusing the property. They have left trash and neglected to pay. Last year he made some substantial improvements to the ramp and built a gate. The gate is open in the summer on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 am to 7 pm. It is important for everyone who uses it to be respectful. The only other alternative we have is to contact Norm Croteau, who will allow boats to launch by appointment for a substantial fee. In the past the State has explored the idea of putting in a ramp, which would include a small parking area. Most are in agreement that this would encourage day-trippers, and would substantially increase the risk of a milfoil invasion.

The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:15, and members enjoyed some snacks and socializing before departing.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Trask, Secretary

2018 Taylor Pond Water Quality Report

Woody Trask, 11/3/2018

This report summarizes the findings of the 2018 water quality monitoring program for Taylor Pond in Auburn, Maine (MIDAS ID#3750). Clarity readings and samplings were conducted monthly from June through September by Woody Trask with additional clarity readings taken May through September by Michael Heskanen.

Since 2004, Taylor Pond Association has been collecting its own water samples and performing most tests. Phosphorus analysis was conducted by the DHHS Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory in Augusta.

Result summary: Most results were quite consistent with readings for the past few years with the exception of the average 5 meter core sample phosphorous reading which was well below the average for last year and lower than the historical average. (Yay!) Let’s hope this becomes the new norm.

The average clarity of 5.3 meters was slightly lower than 2017 mostly due to some low readings in May and the water was slightly less colored than last year.

Readings for pH, alkalinity and conductance were essentially unchanged from past years.

The average surface temperature was 73.9°F, 1.6°F lower than last year and equal to the average for the past five years.

“Ice in” occurred about the 15th of December and the “ice out” date was April 23rd, a few days earlier and later respectively than 2017. The historical average for ice out is April 14.

The results of this year’s monitoring are given below and in a separate DO/Temperature report.

Parameter 2018 Mean for Taylor Pond

since 1975

Historical Mean for all Maine Lakes
Color 18.75 21.06 28
pH 7.1 7.01 6.82
Alkalinity 20 16.9 11.9
Conductance, µS/cm 96.75 90.2 46
Total Phosphorus

5m core sample, µg/L


vs. 12.25 in 2017

10.17 12
Total Phosphorus

bottom grab, µg/L


vs. 21.75 in 2017

25.11 (not published)
Secchi depth (meters) minimum 3.8 May/4.7 June

vs. 4.8 in 2017

1.7 (minimum ever recorded) 0.5

(0.9 in 2012)

Secchi depth mean (m) 5.3

vs. 5.55 in 2017

4.68 4.81

(5.2 in 2012)

Secchi depth max (m) 6.5

vs. 6.0 in 2017

6.52 (maximum ever recorded) 15.5

(13.4 in 2012)

Trophic State (by Secchi disk) 35.9 49.81 45
Trophic State (by core Total Phosphorus) 36.6 42.96 (not published)


Color:  Organic material that remains from dead plants and animals provides most of the water color.  Lakes drained by areas with more coniferous forests tend to be brown in color due to the slow degradation of the leaves of these trees.  Taylor Pond had a color measured at 18.75 in 2018, which is slightly lower than last year and lower than the mean for all Maine lakes of 28.  When the color is greater than 25 a lake is considered “colored” and the transparency is reduced.

PH:  A measure of the acid-base status of the pond.  Taylor Pond had a pH of 7.1 in 2018 which is slightly higher than the mean of 6.82 for all Maine Lakes.  Acid rain caused by industrial pollutants can cause the pH in lakes to drop below 6. This drop in pH kills off the healthy zooplankton (microscopic animals) leading to death of fish and overgrowth of algae.   The pH of Taylor Pond has been very stable over the years.

Alkalinity:  A measure of the capacity of the water to buffer against a change in the pH.  Taylor Pond’s alkalinity in 2018 was 20 (the same as last year) compared to a mean for all Maine lakes of 11.9.  This indicates that our pond is unlikely to have a problem with acidity. The level of alkalinity in Taylor Pond has remained little changed and is not of concern.

Conductance:  Conductance indirectly measures the relative number of dissolved ions in the water — the higher the concentration of ions the greater the conductance. Conductance is used as a rough estimate of the amount of pollutants which usually are present as ions.  Although conductance is easy to measure it is not considered highly reliable. Taylor Pond’s conductance for 2018 was 96.75 compared to a historical mean of 90.0 and a mean of 46 for all Maine lakes.

Total Phosphorus:  A phosphorous analysis provides the most reliable measure of the capacity of Taylor Pond to have an algal bloom.  Algae in Maine waters tend to be limited by the phosphorous content of the water. If you provide enough phosphorous algae grows rapidly.  Algae cause depletion of oxygen in the water which kills animal life, colors the water green and when it dies creates unpleasant odors. Taylor Pond’s phosphorous was done using a 5 meter core and bottom grab sampling technique.  Taylor Pond’s core sample phosphorous readings this year averaged 9.5 µg/L which is lower than the historical mean of 10.17 and lower than the 12 reported for all Maine lakes. In 2018 there was one reading of 14 which is close to the 15 µg/L level that can initiate algal blooms.  Lakes are categorized as oligotrophic (low level of biologic productivity), mesotrophic (intermediate) or eutrophic (high biologic productivity) based on how much phosphorous they contain. A lake with a phosphorous of less than 10 is considered oligotrophic, between 10 and 30 is considered mesotrophic and over 30 is considered eutrophic.

The bottom grab sample average of 21.25 µg/L was lower than last year and lower than the historical average.

Secchi Disk:  Secchi disk readings provide the easiest method for measuring the clarity of the water.  Algae, zooplankton (microscopic animals), natural water color and suspended soil all reduce the transparency of the water.  Algae cause most of the change in transparency in Taylor Pond, but pine pollen at times is also a major contributor. The mean transparency for 2018 was 5.3 meters, slightly less than last year due to some low readings in May but significantly higher than the historic average for Taylor Pond of 4.68 and higher than the historical average for all Maine lakes. Having had few major rain events in 2018 is a probable contributor to the good clarity readings.

Trophic State:  This is a measure of the biologic productivity of the pond — the higher the number, the more biologically productive the lake and typically the poorer the water quality.  The scale ranges from zero to over 100. Ponds in the range between 40 and 50 are considered mesotrophic (moderately productive). Values greater than 50 are associated with eutrophy (high productivity) and values less than 40 are associated with oligotrophy (low productivity).  Taylor Pond measured at 35.9 by Secchi Disk readings and 36.6 by phosphorous readings (considered the most accurate). Taylor Pond’s Trophic State as measured by the Secchi disk is lower than the state average of 45.

Dissolved Oxygen and Temperature Profiles:  The amount of dissolved oxygen is measured at one meter depth intervals monthly throughout the summer.  Generally down to a depth of 5 meters the oxygen level remains at a high enough level to sustain all animals.  Below 5 meters the oxygen levels early in the summer are high, but as the summer progresses the oxygen levels drop to levels (below 5 ppm) unable to sustain fish and other aquatic animals. Warm water fish (such as Sunfish, Perch, Pickerel and Bass) have no difficulty in Taylor Pond because they stay near the surface where the water is well oxygenated.  Cold water fish (such as Trout and Salmon) need the deeper colder water, below 20 degrees Celsius, to thrive. By July or August, this colder, deeper water no longer contains enough oxygen for the fish. In addition to the difficulty for fish, oxygen depletion near the bottom of the pond tends to release phosphorous into the water. This is demonstrated by the higher phosphorous levels found in the bottom grab samples by the middle of the summer. The oxygen depletion found below 4-8 meters is similar to what we have found in the past and continues to reflect the fragile state of Taylor Pond. The DO and Temperature profiles for 2018 are on a separate chart (attached).

Conclusions:  The conclusions remain essentially unchanged from last year. The water quality of Taylor Pond is considered to be average compared to other Maine lakes.  The potential for an algal bloom continues to be moderate, however, the average of 9 µg/L for 2018 was the lowest it has been in years and will hopefully be a continuing trend.  Taylor Pond remains one of the 181 Maine lakes on the Maine Department of Environmental Protections Nonpoint Source Priority Watershed list. This list contains those lakes considered to be threatened or impaired by nonpoint source pollution from land use activities on the surrounding watershed.  In addition the Stormwater Management Law considers Taylor Pond to be a lake “most at risk”.

Taylor Pond fails to meet standards for the highest water quality due to the depletion of oxygen found at depths below 5 meters during the summer (see chart).  In addition, phosphorous levels remain just below the threshold of 15 which could trigger an algal bloom. Monitoring of Taylor Pond has been conducted regularly since 1975.  During this time there has been no consistent trend in the parameters measured. Since 2004, the years Taylor Pond has been monitored by volunteers, there have been no appreciable algae blooms.   

Because of the shallow depth of the pond (mean depth 17 feet) and low flushing rate (1.34 flushes per year, the number of times the water, on average, empties from the pond) Taylor Pond will likely always remain vulnerable to phosphorous loading and therefore algal blooms.  Because of oxygen depletion of deep water during the summer, the pond will likely never sustain a cold water fishery. Finally, each new structure or expansion of an existing structure, whether a home, garage, driveway, road, lawn or beach, potentially increases the phosphorous loading of the pond.  

Taylor Pond continues to have many attractive qualities.  The shallow depth means that it quickly warms in the summer to provide excellent swimming close to the towns of Auburn and Lewiston.  It freezes quickly in the winter to provide skating, skiing and ice fishing during the winter. It has an abundant bass, pickerel, and recently pike populations that thrive in its warm waters and attract people who enjoy fishing.  The Department of Marine Resources considers the pond to be prime spawning habitat for alewives and trucks adult fish above the dams on the Androscoggin River into Taylor Pond. It has a naturally high level of biologic productivity that sustains an abundant wildlife population for all to enjoy.  It remains a place that never ceases to astound us with its beauty.

METHODOLOGY:  Samples are collected near the deepest point in the pond.  This point has been determined previously and the historic location has been noted on maps available to the samplers.  This spot is reached by boat and verified each time by visual triangulation for Secchi disk readings. In addition to visual triangulation an ultrasound depth meter is used before collecting core and grab samples.  Grab samples are taken using a Van Dorn Water Sampler. Core samples are taken with a core sampler home-manufactured from a 50 foot flexible PVC tube. The method for grab samples at a specified depth and core samples are done according to the protocol of the Maine Bureau of Land and Water Quality, Division of Environmental Assessment.

COLOR:  Performed on core samples using a Hach color wheel (CO 20-100) and units are in Standard Platinum Units (SPU).

PH: Performed on core samples using a Hach Bromothymol Blue test kit for pH.

CONDUCTANCE:  Performed on core samples using a HM Digital, Inc. Model COM-100 water quality tester for EC/TDS/Temp. Conductivity is measured in uS/cm.

ALKALINITY:  Performed on core samples using a titration method with a Hach color wheel measured in milligram per liter.  

PHOSPHOROUS:  Performed on core samples and bottom grab samples.  Samples are collected in the field, refrigerated and sent to the DHHS lab by mail. Measurements are in parts per billion (ppb). The results are the average of four samples taken once a month from June to September.

SECCHI DISK:  Performed using the method taught by the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program. Only certified users performed this task. Measurements of depth are in meters.

DISSOLVED OXYGEN:  Performed in the field using a YSI 550A DO meter with 50 foot probe which measures temperature and dissolved oxygen from the surface to maximum depth.  The sampler and meter is yearly certified by the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program as to method and accuracy. Measurements of dissolved oxygen are in milligrams per liter (mg/l). Water temperature is recorded at each depth tested.

TROPHIC STATE:  Carlson’s Trophic State Index (TSI) is used in these calculations.  For Secchi disk depth TSI = 60 – 14.41 x (Natural Log of Secchi disk depth in meters). For total phosphorous TSI = 14.42 x (Natural Log of total phosphorous) + 4.15.  

Year of the Bird

Dana Little, June 1, 2018

2018 has been designated for the birds!  One hundred years ago Congress passed the Migratory Bird Treaty Act which protects birds that pass between the United States and Canada. This act currently lists over 800 birds for protection.  Prior to passage of the act some birds were hunted to extinction. The Passenger Pigeon once darkened the sky as it flew over this area in flocks of millions. Experts consider it the most common bird in the US and possibly the world in the mid 1800’s.  People hunted the bird to extinction for its meat. Prior to the passage of this act, the abundant Snowy Egret faced a similar fate as hunters sought their feathers to sell for decorating hats.

Over 150 organizations world-wide, including the National Geographic Society and the Audubon Society, are celebrating birds this year in various ways.  My celebration this year will be to participate in the Maine Bird Atlas. This mostly volunteer effort led by IF&W (Inland Fisheries and Wildlife) aims to answer two questions: 1. How many breeding and winter birds can be found in Maine and 2. Where are they found?  I am submitting data to the atlas online through the program Ebird for my observations around Taylor Pond and Androscoggin County.  

Taylor Pond provides diverse habitats for birds including areas of open water, upland woods, swamps, grasslands, fens and marshes.  Over the 19 years that I have lived on the pond I have catalogued 105 species of birds that nest or raise their young in the area. These include seldom seen birds such as the Green Heron, VIrginia Rail and American Bittern or the more commonly seen birds such as the American Robin, Black-capped Chickadee and American Goldfinch.  Another 53 species migrate through the area with the change in seasons. One has to keep an eye out as these birds do not stay long typically. Such transients include many ducks such as Ring-necked, Ruddy, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead and Lesser Scaup. I have observed 6 species of birds almost exclusively in the winter. These include the Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, Bohemian Waxwing and Snow Bunting.

Most birdwatchers consider warblers to be the “jewels” of the bird world.  Bright colors and shy habits make them seldom seen without some effort, but well worth the labor.  They typically winter in Central or South America and travel here only for the brief summer to consume our abundant insect population.  They live only in this part of the world and Maine has one of the highest concentrations thanks to those pesky mosquitoes and blackflies!  I have catalogued 11 species that commonly nest here and another 16 species seen only on their way north.  So I recommend grabbing a pair of binoculars and gazing up into the trees for some entertainment.

Water Quality Summary for Taylor Pond 2017

Woody Trask, July 2018

In summary, 2017 was a better than average year for water clarity although the water was slightly more colored (yellow/brown tone) than last year.

A full battery of tests (color, pH, alkalinity, conductance, phosphorus and clarity) was conducted monthly from June through September, with additional clarity readings taken by Michael Heskinen, who joined us this year as a certified water quality monitor. Thank you Michael! Phosphorus analyses of water samples taken from the surface and bottom of the pond were performed by the State of Maine Health and Environmental Testing Lab in Augusta. Surface samples showed a slight increase compared to last year but the bottom samples tested slightly lower. Just an anomaly? Who knows? We’ll see what happens in 2018. To my knowledge there were no reports of any significant algae blooms.

The readings for clarity averaged 5.55 meters (18.2 ft.) which is quite high compared to the historical average of 4.64 meters (15.2 ft.) and slightly higher than last year — a positive indicator of the health of the Pond.

The overall water quality of Taylor Pond is considered to be average compared to all Maine lakes. Barring a major environmental event that causes significant soil erosion and phosphorus rich run-off entering the pond, the water quality is expected to remain stable going forward.

The ice-out date for spring 2018 was recorded as April 23, which was 4 days later than last year and about 9 days later than the historical average. The pond froze (gradually) over the last week in December, so there was a longer period of ice cover than last year which is considered beneficial to overall water quality.

TPA $500 Grant Program

Dana Little, June 10, 2018

The grant program that provides up to $500 to eligible homeowners continues to to work to improve our pond’s health.  Both Kristi Norcross and I volunteer to run the program which begins with a LakeSmart evaluation. In 2017 I visited eight homes and this year two homes so far.  Of these evaluations, one received the distinction of being a LakeSmart property. In addition this property received $500 for its lake-friendly improvements. In the past we hired consultants to provide LakeSmart consults which cost us several thousand dollars in 2016.  Since 2017 I have provided local expertise, with certification from the Maine Lakes Society, at no cost.

A LakeSmart property award is made when a homeowner designs their land so that it keeps the lake healthy.  LakeSmart recommendations include preventing rain from directly entering the pond, planting a buffer along the shore, not cutting grass less than three inches, avoiding pesticides and fertilizers and reducing lawn sizes.  No home is perfect but I can provide recommendations to improve and instructions on how to apply for a $500 grant to help make those improvements. I can also advise you on how to stay within the requirements of Maine’s shoreland zoning law and other regulations.

To find out more about a free LakeSmart evaluation and an opportunity to receive a $500 grant call Kristi Norcross at 577-6408.  The basic requirements for receiving a grant include:

  1. An initial LakeSmart evaluation
  2. Make improvements as recommended in the written evaluation
  3. Provide proof of associated costs
  4. Not make changes to the property that would worsen its score and
  5. Finally to have a follow up evaluation done to ensure that the work has been done satisfactorily.

President’s Report

Taylor Pond Association continues to work for you using an allvolunteer board.  The Board has been busy this last year, working with City and State officials to ensure the continued quality of our precious resource. Here’s what’s been happening since our Annual Meeting in July of 2017:

Flooding Issues:  Over the years we have been able to create a budget surplus that we drew down this year in contracting two major engineering studies that we felt were in your best interests.  Both studies were done by Joseph McLean of Wright-Pierce engineering and provided us with the level of expertise to make wellinformed recommendations.   

We contracted for the first study to help us reduce the chance of flooding on the pond.  Mr. McLean surprised us when he determined that beaver dams control the usual water level.  He found that the Hotel Road culvert and a public road accessing the Kendall property both obstruct water flow during flooding events.  His findings will help us to reduce flooding and possibly eliminate many homes need for flood insurance. Please read the full article for more details.

Potential construction at Lost Valley:

The City of Auburn contacted me last summer about a commercial development at Lost Valley by Kassbohrer, the manufacturer of snow-grooming equipment.  Ultimately, the manufacturer decided against the site at Lost Valley and instead chose what most would consider a more appropriate site in the industrial park off Merrow Road.  In contacting us, the City wished to know if we had projects that needed funding for phosphorus reduction.  The planned project for Lost Valley was expected to generate additional phosphorus runoff into the pond and the City was looking to offset this by funding improvements in other known phosphorousgenerating areas.  The TPA board met and had three concerns about the project:  (1) Noise generation from running heavy equipment at the site; (2) Large trucks negotiating access along Youngs Corner Road; and (3) The magnitude of phosphorus runoff.  An increase in the pond’s phosphorus could trigger serious algal overgrowth.  We turned again to Wright-Pierce Engineering, who provided us with a comprehensive analysis of the projected impact of this project.  The most important conclusion was: The information provided regarding the Phosphorus Standard does not appear to be in compliance with State regulations and the development appears to be dramatically increasing phosphorus export from the developed parcel. We believe the impact of this report helped to steer Kassbohrer to a safer site in the interests of the health of the pond.

Taylor Pond’s water quality continues to be excellent and is monitored throughout the summer by Woody Trask.  Woody uses his expertise in chemistry to provide us with timely and accurate data to protect water quality. In the past we paid over $4,000 yearly for similar services that now are provided free by Woody.  Please see his annual summary of water quality later in this newsletter.

Taylor Pond provides a rich habitat for wildlife, including fish and birds.  Annually the Maine Department of Marine Resources catches over 3000 adult alewives at the Brunswick dam and places them in our pond.  These fish spawn and the young develop over the summer in our rich waters before returning to the ocean. All summer people enjoy catching bass and during the winter large pike retrieved through holes drilled in the ice.  

Wildlife abounds on the water, surrounding wetlands and woods of Taylor Pond.  This area serves as the breeding ground and a resting spot for migratory birds.  Please read my article on “Year of the Bird” to understand the variety that can be observed.

How to Reduce the Danger of Wildfires

Highlights of the On-Site “Defensible Space” Demonstration

On June 2, about a dozen TPA members gathered on Taywood Rd. for a demonstration of how to mitigate the danger of wildfires around our properties. The demo was led by Forest Ranger Kent Nelson. Also attending and adding their expertise were Auburn Fire Chief Robert Chase, Fire Prevention Officer David O’Connell, and EMT Director Brad Chicoine. All who attended were in agreement that we learned a lot of useful information. Here are a few highlights:

  • Make sure that your street number is clearly visible from both directions.
  • Keep your roof clear of pine needles and debris; clean out gutters regularly.
  • Create defensible space (clear area free of flammable material), as much as possible, within 30 feet of your home. Any flammable vegetation, brush piles, firewood, wood chips, etc. should be moved away from your structure.
  • Care for your lawn and keep it moist.
  • Avoid having an easy path for a fire to spread between properties, such as connecting hedges or wooden fences.
  • Trim low-hanging branches (called ladder fuels) at least 10 feet above the ground.
  • Keep fire-pits, barbecue pits, grills, etc. in proper working order and away from flammable vegetation.

We also learned the proper way to cut and stack limbs and brush. Those who applied to the AFD were eligible to have their brush piles chipped and the chips removed by the MFS and AFD on June 29. Attendees also received free work gloves, saws, and loppers.

Demonstration attendees also learned some facts about local ordinances concerning private burning and fireworks, some of which surprised us. There’s some misinformation out there! Here are a few key regulations to consider:

  • Fireworks are illegal in Auburn, including on holidays such as the Fourth of July.
  • In areas without local prohibitive ordinances, out-of-state fireworks are also prohibited.
  • Private burns are allowed by permit only. Contact the Auburn Fire Department for permitting.
  • Only clean wood may be burned. Paper, cardboard and leaves are among the prohibited items.
  • A burn must be at least 50’ from any structure and at least 25’ from any road.

Annual Meeting 2018

The TPA annual meeting was held at the Taylor Pond Yacht Club on July 29, 2018 beginning at 7:00 pm. Forty-four members and 4 guests were in attendance. President Dana Little opened the meeting with greetings and a review of the agenda.
The minutes from last year’s meeting were unanimously accepted.
Review of the year’s activities: Dana remarked that the Board has been busy during the past year. Issues included:

  • Working to implement the action plan recommended by the engineering study we commissioned last year: We continue to work with the City and the State to make sure that appropriate measures are taken to help mitigate future flooding problems on the Pond.
  • Responding to a construction proposal at Lost Valley: We were made aware of a proposal by a snow-grooming machine manufacturer to build an industrial facility at Lost Valley. We engaged Joe McLean once again to do an engineering study of their proposal, which he found deficient in its phosphorous mitigation plan. There were also concerns about the potential negative effects of heavy equipment in the area, and noise and light pollution, among others. Ultimately, the company changed its plan and decided to build in the Industrial Park.

Petition to exempt watersheds: The Zoning Board had passed a special exemption of the current zoning law in order to allow the construction of the industrial building/business at Lost Valley, which is located in an agricultural zone. Barbara Mitchell researched options and prepared a petition that requests the City Council to exempt the Lake Auburn and Taylor Pond watersheds from that special exemption to the agriculture and resource protection zoning ordinance. We need at least twenty-five signatures; then, after three notices in the newspaper and written notice to abutters, the petition would go to the Planning Board and then be sent to the City Council. The cost for the petition would be $700: $400 to the City for the work they have to do to prepare for the consideration of the amendment, and $300 to the Sun Journal for the public notices in the paper.

Annual Loon Count Peter Durgin reported that on the foggy morning of July 21, he and several others participated in the Annual Loon Count sponsored by the Audubon Society. They counted seven loons, which perhaps includes three or four transients.

Email communications: Susan requested feedback from members about the number and content of emails they receive. She uses a new communication platform which makes it easier to send out notices, so the number of those has increased of late. Recently she was asked to send a notice to TPA members about an event that might be of interest but did not directly relate to Association business. Members seemed in agreement that the emails are in fact welcome, and that an occasional non-TPA note of interest would be acceptable.

Board of Directors vote: Five Board members’ terms expire this summer: Dana Little, Ed Gray, Larry Faiman, Donna Morin, and Kristi Norcross. They have all agreed to serve again and in addition, Jan Phillips has agreed to join. This slate of six directors was voted in unanimously. They join current members Susan Trask, Barbara Mitchell, Marc Tardif, Woody Trask and Bill Turner, whose terms continue until the summer of 2019. Dana remarked on the value of having a robust board with a diverse membership for best results in dealing with the various issues we face.
Water Quality: Woody Trask reported that, overall, the water quality remained excellent last summer. Michael Heskinen has been conducting frequent clarity readings in addition to Woody’s monthly analyses. This summer he has recorded the lowest phosphorous readingever!
Game Warden: Woody reported that he recently had a conversation with the local game warden. The latter stated that he has visited Taylor Pond four times this summer so far. The most violations have been the lack of boat registrations on board the boat. Many people have been able to produce the registration by going home and finding it there. The other major issue is the reports of people in canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards out at night with no lights. Some have also been informed that, in addition to life jackets, a whistle is required for all manually-powered watercraft. Secretary’s note: Maine State Regs dorequire the following:

  • A wearable PFD for every person aboard any watercraft; children 10 and under must wear one.
  • One throwable PFD for every motor-powered craft greater than 16’
  • For paddleboards: a PFD for each person, a whistle, and a light if after dark

See for the complete boating regulations handbook.
Financial report Treasurer Ed Gray reports that we have approximately $26,900 in the checking account and 117current members. Most people seem to appreciate the email invoices we have been using. Please continue to update him with any changes in your address.

Questions from members

  • Is there an update on the boat launch issue? For background: Earlier this summer the owner of The Campground, where most of us launch our motorboats, complained that too many people were not contributing the $5 donated fee. There were offers from some members to take up a collection, but he does not want a donation. He seems weary of having the only “public” boat launch and may close it to all but the campers at Sunrise. He also chose not to attend a Board meeting to discuss it. If the State decides to create a public launch, then we would be very concerned about the possibility of invasive milfoil.
  • What about swimmer’s itch? On Father’s Day, those who swam at the Yacht Club beach contracted swimmers’ itch. It was also reported from near Valview Dr, but not recently. Dana said that it is caused by a parasite that needs not only a duck host, but also a snail host to survive. It is very uncomfortable, but not dangerous. Shallower water is more likely to have it. It’s a good reminder to never encourage visits by ducks!

Maine Program: Fire Safety Susan introduced Kent Nelson of the Maine State Forest Service. Also in attendance were Auburn Fire Chief Bob Chase and Administrative Manager Sarah Hulbert.  Susan re-capped TPA’s collaboration with the Forest Service and the Auburn Fire Department, which culminated in June with a fire safety workshop and a community chipping day.
Ranger Nelson presented a slide show which educated us on how to identify and mitigate wildfire risks on our properties, and also to report on the results of the fire risk survey that was conducted around Taylor Pond last fall. The properties around Taylor Pond are identified as being in the Wildlife Urban Interface (WUI), where homes meet the forest. There are specific risk factors and recommendations for those living in the WUI.
The fall assessment included a 23-question survey of various random locations around the Pond. Some owners had requested a personal survey, which was also done. Others may request a personal survey as well.
A brief summary of results:

  • 95% of homes have only one access road
  • 35% of homes had no signs
  • 60% have less than 30 ft. of “defensible space” ; 30% have 30-70 ft.
  • 15% had a high rating for combustible fuel near the home
  • 30% rated high risk of wildfire; 65% rated moderate
  • 55%  exhibited combustible roof litter
  • Water availability was inconsistent
  • Response time: an hour or less by ranger; 45 minutes or less by helicopter

The complete report will be posted on the TPA website:
Ranger Nelson suggested that, while some of the above issues are not easily resolved, owners could focus immediately on three actions:

  1. Work to create a “defensible space” (i.e. the area around the home available for firefighters to defend the home.
  2. Reduce the amount of shrubbery and trees that are in direct contact with your structures. Pine trees provide better potential combustion than do hardwoods.
  3. Make sure that your property is well-identified. Post 6” house numbers that are clearly visible from both directions.

Although just a few property owners participated in the free chipping day, there will be opportunities in the future to do so again. He is hoping more folks will take advantage of it. The Forest Service has just created a new system for reporting current fire danger in the State:
Chief Chase was questioned about the availability of water around the Pond for fighting fires. He acknowledged that Auburn does not have a tanker truck for areas that are not served with hydrants (including much of the TP shoreline). It is generally not practical to try to pump water from the lake because the equipment needs to be within 30 feet of the water in order to work. Dry hydrants can be installed, but need to be serviced regularly, are quite expensive, and are tricky to engineer properly. When asked about year-round water in order to ensure hydrant availability, he said that the issue would be wrapped into a general survey of all the rural areas of Auburn in order to supply the best overall outcomes in the most cost-effective manner.
Dana thanked Ranger Nelson and Chief Chase for their presentations and information; the audience was most appreciative. The meeting was adjourned, and the two remained for a while, fielding individual questions from members.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan Trask, Secretary

Wildfire Protection Plan

The Maine Forest Service and Auburn Fire Department prepared a comprehensive Wildfire Protection Plan for Taylor Pond.  The complete report can be found at this link.  The executive summary can be found below:

Executive Summary of the 2018 Community Wildfire Protection Plan

The goal of the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) assessment program is to evaluate a community for hazards in the event of a wildfire in the wildland urban interface (the area where homes intermingle with wildland vegetation).  The assessment also identifies the means by which any hazards found can be mitigated. The objective is to minimize the ability of fire to move between wildland and structures, thereby reducing the threat to life and property.

In 2010 the Maine Forest Service recorded 562 wildland fires, although the actual number of wildland fires could be higher.  Nearly 75% of these fires in 2010 destroyed, damaged, or threatened structures.

During the five year period between 2006 and 2010  the Maine Forest Service recorded 1,235 wildland fires in the Southern District (which encompasses Auburn ME) burning an estimated total area of 1,043.41 acres.  Examples of historic wildfire suppression costs in Maine communities include: Allagash (1992, $522,855.96); Garfield Plt (1991, $305,593.83); Baileyville (1998, $286,668.43); Freeport (1991, $271,035.00); Dixfield (2002, $90,338.59); Milo (2002, $76,795.21); Bucksport (2001, $68,650.00); Northport (2001, $67,957.80); and Centerville (2006, $35,703.14).

During the assessment, 20 structural and 4 vegetative sites were evaluated within the wildland urban interface area.  The assessment focused on such issues as building materials, defensible space, access, road signage, and water availability.  Methodology and detailed results of the assessment are found in the main body of this report. Overall, the structures assessed within Taylor Pond had an average score that falls into the ‘moderate’ risk category with some high and some low risk.

Inadequate defensible space and flammable vegetation inside defensible space are the greatest source of Taylor Pond’s elevated risk.  Factors including low water availability, quality of access roads, and signage contribute to this risk.  This report contains recommendations to rectify the identified issues, along with suggestions for building materials, low-flammable plants, and guidelines for the safe placement of firewood and fuel storage tanks for existing and development areas.

The factors contributing to increased fire risk in the wildland urban interface found within Taylor Pond area can be lessened by following the strategies outlined in this report, “decreasing the risk of catastrophic fire and loss of life and property.”

To see the complete report go to this link.

Flooding Issues Revisited

By Dana Little

How to Reduce Flooding and Need for Flood Insurance on Taylor Pond

Removing obstructions to the free flow of Taylor Brook under Hotel road and Stevens Mill extension could reduce the chance of flooding on the pond.  The Taylor Pond Association hired Joseph McLean of Wright-Pierce engineering to advise us on how to prevent the flooding of so many homes from events like the 9 inches of rain we received in June of 2012.  After a year of study he presented his preliminary report at our last association meeting in August 2017.

Beaver dams and debris in the outlet have often been blamed for causing flooding.  However, Mr. McLean determined that beaver dams, located below Hotel Road, prevent water levels from dropping too low in the summer but do not cause flooding.  They block water flow most of the year, but during high water events water easily flows around, over or through the dam. Removal of any beaver dams would result in lower water levels in the pond but no decrease in flooding events.  

The Hotel Road culvert through which Taylor Brook flows on leaving Taylor Pond does restrict flow and acts like a large dam during high water events.  In 2017 we learned that the state Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to improve this culvert. DOT held a public meeting May 2nd at which I and several other members of the TPA board and pondside residents were present.  We learned that work will likely begin in 2019 and will finish by winter. TPA is working with the engineers at DOT to ensure that the project will have a sufficiently large span to reduce the chance of flooding. According to Joseph McLean’s calculations, if the current culvert (about 18 feet wide) is replaced by a 30 foot span, the high water mark in a 100 year flood would be 4.8 inches lower.

Two other sites that restrict water flow are the dam on Taylor Brook located on the Kendall property and the Stevens Mill Road extension which crosses the brook and allows access to the Kendall home.  We have spoken to the Kendalls and they plan to leave the dam alone. The Stevens Mill Road extension passes over Taylor Brook, is owned by the city and acts as a dam during high water levels. Replacement of the current bridge with a 35 foot wide bridge, in combination with improvements to the Hotel Road culvert, would lower the 100 year flood level by a total of 14.4 inches.  

One final finding of the engineering report could help reduce the estimated 100-year flood elevation by almost two feet (from 245.5 to 243.6).  For certain property owners this could eliminate the need to pay for flood insurance. To change this level, set by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), we would need to contract with Wright-Pierce or appeal to the city to work with FEMA to change the current flood maps.  With the proposed improvements to Hotel Road, the Stevens Mill extension, and estimates for 100-year flooding, we could see not only the reduced chance of flooding but also elimination of flood insurance payments for many homeowners on the pond. TPA will continue to work for homeowners on the pond to accomplish all three of these goals.