The Panther Pond Association ('PPA') was formed to promote the protection and enhancement of the water quality of Panther Pond and to preserve its ecological, economic, recreational and aesthetic value.
PPA began as a collection of Panther Pond landowners who came together in 2002 to deal with nighttime social disturbances along Panther Run. Over the course of the early organizational meetings that included Panther Pond landowners and members of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District (CCSWCD), and Raymond Waterways Protective Association (RWPA), who were invited to help with the organizational process, it became clear that, to be successful, a lake association had to provide more services than just dealing with reducing inappropriate social activities along a stream.
However, unlike most lake associations, the first organizational obstacle that the founders of PPA had to overcome was demonstrating the benefits a lake association such as PPA could provide that weren’t already being provided by the long-standing RWPA (whose board, after all, consisted mostly of Panther Pond landowners who presumably would be sure that actions were taken to protect Panther Pond.) It was, and to some extent continues to be, a bit of a struggle to keep that distinction clear.
As the organization committee struggled with this issue, it ultimately came to realize that membership in a lake association such as PPA creates a greater sense of lake ownership than does membership in a regional organization: As home ownership heightens the sense of responsibility to manage one’s housing asset (as opposed to renting), so will a greater sense of lake ownership lead to more responsible lake management, or what environmentalists would refer to as better stewardship of our lakes. With this more intense stewardship that ownership engenders, the committee concluded that PPA members will take greater responsibility for protecting the pond than otherwise would occur and consequently will take more direct and more rapid control of any problem that might arise. RWPA thus came to be seen as the organization that PPA could turn to for technical assistance, with PPA organizing volunteer labor when needed. This became the operational mode when, in 2003, RWPA hired its first Executive
Director. With extensive experience working with DEP on lake issues, the Executive Director has become the coordinator and technical advisor that all the Raymond lakes and ponds turn to for help in dealing with runoff pollution and invasive plant problems.
Since PPA’s inception in 2002, this newly found sense of responsibility has led the members to produce a Watershed Survey (in record time) that provided the basis for applying for, receiving, and completing three US Gov’t 319 grants aimed at providing landowners with materials, labor, and expert guidance to mitigate erosion problems that affect the water quality.
With the increasing threat of invasive plants such as milfoil, PPA members and other volunteers, in cooperation with RWPA and the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, have spent many hours removing milfoil from lakes, ponds, and streams in the Sebago Lake region. PPA has provided support for the hiring of professional divers for milfoil surveys and removal where needed, and the employment of courtesy inspectors at boat ramps to inspect boats and trailers for invasive plants and animals. Further, PPA is working to educate landowners and visitors about all the issues affecting water quality and safety. PPA member Sibyl French has become the regional coordinator for invasive-plant survey reporting to Maine VLMP. She and member Bunny Wescott organize local volunteers to conduct the annual surveys for invasive plants in Raymond lakes.
Membership has fluctuated between 25% and 33% of lake property owners--just about the average for lake associations according to DEP. We’re also grateful for the participation of Raymond neighbors and folks “from away” who love the lake as much as we do, even though
they may not own property on Panther Pond.
PPA has no paid staff; we’re blessed with a core of enthusiastic and talented volunteers. Money collected from memberships (suggested dues of $20 or more) is devoted to conservation and education projects which you’ll find detailed in other sections of this web site.
With several years’ experience with the runoff and milfoil activities, the Board and its members at the annual meeting have sought additional activities that might be undertaken to better protect the water quality of the pond and to make the experience out on the water more enjoyable.
The original motto or vision that was found at the bottom of each page of correspondence for the first few years was: “The Mission of the Panther Pond Association is to preserve a quality lake environment.”
In 2009, we got into a discussion of the argument often put forth by those who don’t want to participate in protecting the lake because they see other people polluting without any consequence. We all agreed to push the idea that if we can get one landowner here and one landowner there making improvements, we can ultimately have an impact on the lake and even on the Doubting Thomas’s. Out of that discussion came the new motto reflecting the philosophy of PPA:
Preserving Panther Pond One Person at a Time.
In 2007, Bunny Wescott and Sibyl French became certified with Lake Stewards of Maine as Plant Patrollers. They then launched the Panther Pond Invasive Plant Patrollers known as PPippers. They have organized the hunt for invasive plants ever since.
Another valuable parameter for lake health determinations: From 2011 to 2019, PPA volunteers worked with Bates College sampling for an annoying cyanobacteria, Gloeotrichia.