what is lakesmart?

LakeSmart is an education and reward program that helps lakefront homeowners manage landscapes in ways that protect water quality. The program is free, non-regulatory, and voluntary. Participating homeowners receive individualized suggestions for keeping pollutants in stormwater out of lake waters. 

Maine Lakes partners with lake associations to deliver LakeSmart education property-by-property and shore-by-shore to create a conservation ethic across lake communities. Trained volunteers perform property assessments for participating homeowners. Sites that score well earn the coveted LakeSmart Award, consisting of two distinctive signs that can be posted at the waterfront and driveway. The signs identify the homes of good stewards and illustrate what lake-friendly living looks like.

It’s hard to believe that one person’s expansive lawn or eroding camp road could be a threat to something as large and enduring as a lake. But when added to a shoreline full of similar sites, it can. All stormwater that gets into a lake carries nutrients. Over time, the cumulative impact can be thousands of pounds of pollutants. The result, “death by a thousand cuts,” means algae blooms, fish kills, and the loss of water clarity and spawning habitat.

To be LakeSmart means that the homeowners have received the education and techniques, and are using natural landscaping strategies to protect their lake. LakeSmart landscaping mimics nature’s rich mosaic of plants, shrubs, winding paths, and shady trees–so it looks great, enhances privacy, and works hard to protect property values, wildlife habitat, water quality, recreational opportunities and the vitality of local economies.

If each homeowner does a little, the sum of many small actions adds up to a lot of lake protection. And being LakeSmart is the place to start!

Get involved!

Maine Lakes statewide membership organization dedicated to protecting Maine’s lakes, ponds and watersheds, administers LakeSmart through its network of 130 active lake association members. Contact the Maine Lakes to help you start a LakeSmart program on your lake.

CHECK OUT LakeSmart: Saving Our Lakes, One Shore at a Time (video above) & Lake Protection (video below)

We will provide your lake association with training, materials, and ongoing guidance so that you can introduce LakeSmart to friends and neighbors. A full day training that includes on-site practice, online homeowner information sheets and outreach materials for your group, references to resources, and continued on-site coaching are provided by us without cost to participating lake groups.

LakeSmart is a community-based social marketing initiative; it must be hosted by a community. Any lake association may apply. Applications are received until February 1 of each year. Training is provided in early summer at locations in southern, central, mid-coast, and northern Maine.

What steps does it take to host a LakeSmart Program?

First, we ask that the lake association, road association or watershed group commit to participating in the program for at least three years. This means that the organization votes to fulfill the following expectations:

  • Appoint volunteers to fill the positions of program Coordinator and Property Screener(s).
  • Agree to provide the board’s full support to its LakeSmart volunteers and program.
  • Publicize LakeSmart in newsletters and on the organization’s website if there is one, post information in public gathering places, and share LakeSmart information at road/lake association meetings.
  • Publicly recognize and thank ALL homeowners who participate in the program, for every level of LakeSmart achievement, whether Award or Commendation.
  • Report on program activity as it occurs, and provide a summary report by October 15.

Second, we expect the association’s Coordinator and Screener(s) to

  • Attend a full-day training 
  • Fulfill the tasks listed in job descriptions for Coordinator and Screener
  • Understand that the LakeSmart evaluation is not a one-time pass/fail exam, but the start of a relationship between the lake association and the landowner that will lead to better lake protection over time

For more information about LakeSmart, please contact Brooke Hafford MacDonald, LakeSmart Program Manager.

why be lakesmart?

HomeOwner’s FAQ

What is LakeSmart?

LakeSmart is an education and reward program for lakefront property owners who maintain their homes in ways that protect lake water quality and property values. LakeSmart is a Program of the Maine Lakes, partnered with your local Lake Association.

What’s the Matter with Storm water?

Storm water runoff ruins lakes! Erosion and sedimentation from shoreline development and camp roads are the major cause of smelly, cloudy water, algal blooms, fish kills, and water you wouldn’t want to swim in.

What Does It Cost a Homeowner?

The visit is free, non-regulatory and completely voluntary. LakeSmart is the most cost-effective strategy that homeowners can use to protect their lake, their property’s value and their recreational activities. Many home/property Improvements can be “Do it yourself” or with your local Youth Conservation Corp assistance.

How long does it take?

The LakeSmart visit takes less than an hour. A trained volunteer will assess four areas of your property, starting at the driveway and working toward the shorefront. You will be informed right away of the observations and you’ll receive information about lake-friendly land practices and relevant web links. Your evaluation is then sent along to the Maine Lakes for final review.

If you wish to see what is being evaluated please look at the Homeowner Self Evaluation Form.

To do a self-evaluation of your property, simply print out and complete this form: LakeSmart Start.

Tell Me More about the LakeSmart Evaluation Process?

After final Maine Lakes review of the submitted evaluation; if your home scores well in all 4 categories and all criteria met, you will get the prestigious ‘LakeSmart Award’ and two handsome blue and white signs for posting at the roadside and lakefront. If you pass in 1 to 3 LakeSmart categories but not all criteria met, you will receive a ‘Certificate of Commendation’, helpful suggestions, and our thanks for caring about the lake. Whatever the outcome, you’ll learn how to become more lake-friendly, and that is just as important.

How Can I Participate?

Contact your local Lake Association to inquire if they have a LakeSmart Program. If they do, they will connect you with one of their trained volunteers who will assess your property. He or she will come to your home, evaluate its ability to prevent run-off and inputs of pollution, and report back to you. During the evaluation you will be able to walk the property with the volunteer and you’ll be given information on how to capture and infiltrate stormwater. LakeSmart is entirely voluntary, so you are free to take some of the recommended actions or not–it’s completely up to you.

What if there is no local Program?

Have your local Lake Association contact Maine Lakes at Info@Lakes.ME. We would be pleased to work with you and your Lake Association to provide training and guidance in developing a program. It can start with you!

What’s the Payoff?

Research has shown that LakeSmart properties are as protective of water quality as undeveloped land. The benefits of managing the LakeSmart way are many:

  • Clean, clear, healthy water
  • Outstanding recreational opportunities
  • High property values
  • Abundant wildlife on land and in the water
  • Successful local businesses