LakeSmart Stewardship Program Drives Community-Level Behavioural Change

In Maine, USA, direct interpersonal contact between LakeSmart staff and citizens kick-started an effective voluntary lake protection program. The LakeSmart Program was designed with the following tools:

  • Landscaping BMP workshops. These both spread knowledge on how to minimize nutrient runoff and solicited participation among residents. BMP focal areas included: driveways; structures and septic systems; recreation areas and footpaths; and riparian areas and water access. The workshops demonstrated easily implemented BMPs (to kick-start participation) and more complex ones (to exemplify commitment to the LakeSmart design). Workshops later evolved into interactive “Walk’n Talk” tours to properties that exemplified the appearance and function of lake-friendly landscaping BMPs.
  • Convenient on-site evaluation. Teams were deployed to assess properties for existing runoff problems, to suggest mitigation strategies, and to issue award signs for exemplary land management, all at the homeowner’s convenience. Participating homeowners received feedback from their assessment, with illustrated instructions for implementing the BMPs. Volunteers were eventually trained to take over this role, which enabled the program to expand.
  • LakeSmart signage. These were awarded to residents who implemented LakeSmart practices. The signs, displayed on the road and lakesides of LakeSmart properties, exerted social pressure on neighbours to join the program by promoting LakeSmart practices as the apparent norm in the community and reminded awardees to continue the practices that awarded them.