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Assessing LakeSmart, a community-based lake protection program


  • F. Russell Cole

    () (Colby College)

  • Alexa Junker

    (Colby College
    University of Oxford)

  • Catherine R. Bevier

    (Colby College)

  • Maggie Shannon

    (Maine Lakes Society)

  • Sophie Sarkar

    (Colby College
    London School of Economics and Political Science)

  • Philip J. Nyhus

    (Colby College)


Abstract Anthropogenic impacts, particularly shoreline development and related nutrient runoff, threaten Maine lakes. The LakeSmart program was created in response to these threats to promote the use of lake-friendly landscaping practices. We used 237 surveys and 8 stakeholder interviews to investigate motivations that drive conservation behavior among lakeshore residents, to explore the effectiveness of criteria used for LakeSmart evaluations and to identify potential areas for improvement of its structural design and marketing strategies. LakeSmart participants were more likely than non-participants to recognize the threat of declining water quality, to adopt or enhance existing lake-friendly landscaping best management practices, and to help foster a strong sense of community. We conclude that the LakeSmart program could be strengthened with enhanced training for inspectors through increased “job-shadowing” opportunities with experienced inspectors, expanded mentoring for owners whose properties do not pass the initial LakeSmart evaluation, and by eliminating ambiguous wording in the property evaluation form. Partnerships with member-rich groups and identifying ways to reduce costs of recommended mitigation actions could increase program participation. The defined parameters of the property evaluation, along with recommendations to strengthen the evaluation process, can result in greater citizen participation and ultimately improved lake ecosystem health measured by fewer algal blooms and greater water clarity. LakeSmart could serve as a model for other conservation programs attempting to transform knowledge to action.

Suggested Citation

  • F. Russell Cole & Alexa Junker & Catherine R. Bevier & Maggie Shannon & Sophie Sarkar & Philip J. Nyhus, 2018. "Assessing LakeSmart, a community-based lake protection program," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 8(3), pages 264-280, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jenvss:v:8:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s13412-017-0460-7
    DOI: 10.1007/s13412-017-0460-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kevin J. Boyle & P. Joan Poor & Laura O. Taylor, 1999. "Estimating the Demand for Protecting Freshwater Lakes from Eutrophication," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1118-1122.
    2. Welsch, Heinz & Kühling, Jan, 2009. "Determinants of pro-environmental consumption: The role of reference groups and routine behavior," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 166-176, November.
    3. Rebecca G. Harvey & Larry Perez & Frank J. Mazzotti, 2016. "Not seeing is not believing: volunteer beliefs about Burmese pythons in Florida and implications for public participation in invasive species removal," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 59(5), pages 789-807, May.
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