Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 264–280 | Cite as

Assessing LakeSmart, a community-based lake protection program

  • F. Russell ColeEmail author
  • Alexa Junker
  • Catherine R. Bevier
  • Maggie Shannon
  • Sophie Sarkar
  • Philip J. Nyhus


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.


Shoreline development Lake eutrophication Best management practices Community-based conservation Maine 



We are grateful to Ellen Freeman for her help designing the surveys in Qualtrics and Logan Parker, Assistant Lake Science Manager, Maine Lakes Resource Center, for providing LakeSmart evaluation data. We are also grateful to Susan and David Gay, Garrison Beck, Peter Kallin, Lynn Matson, and Melvin Croft for taking the time to tell us about their experiences with LakeSmart. We thank the 41 screeners, 4 evaluators, and 235 property owners who completed our surveys. Samantha Lovell compiled and digitized the property evaluation data, and Eric Walton provided logistical support for this study. We are grateful for comments from three anonymous reviewers.

Funding information

Research funding provided by Colby College and the Environmental Studies program helped make this study possible. This research was conducted as part of the Sustainability Solutions Initiative and supported by National Science Foundation award EPS-0904155 to the Maine Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) at the University of Maine.


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Copyright information

© AESS 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Studies ProgramColby CollegeWatervilleUSA
  2. 2.School of Geography and the EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Department of BiologyColby CollegeWatervilleUSA
  4. 4.Maine Lakes SocietyBelgrade LakesUSA
  5. 5.Department of Geography and EnvironmentLondon School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK

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