About Us

 

The Evolution of a Road Association

Written by Ron Schutt


In the early days of seasonal camps around lakes and ponds, access was a limiting factor. The

building of roads and road systems was often a haphazard venture. Somebody had a tractor,

somebody else had a truck, there was a gravel pit nearby and roads, such as they were, were

constructed where crude pathways may have been.


Such was the case at the Five Kezar Ponds in the Western Maine lakes region in the early to mid

1900s. As more and more camps were built, the residents began to contribute to a fund to defray

the cost of materials used to improve the roads. Much of the work was done by volunteer labor.

One lane roads were common and as cars got bigger and traffic heavier, the road system became

an important issue for discussion as residents got together from time to time. Ultimately, after at

least one failed start, a road association was formed and resident dues were established. Thus

began the Five Kezar Ponds Road Association.


It soon became apparent at the Five Kezars that roads were not our only concern. In 1980 twelve

families purchased ten acres of land on one of our ponds in order to protect it from further

development and conversations began regarding our environment. This small land preservation

project got us thinking of land preservation which became a focus 20 years later. We invited the

president of the Congress of Lake Associations (COLA) to speak at our annual meeting, advising

us as to steps we might take to further protect our ponds. We sought assistance from the Lakes

Environmental Association (LEA) and they measured the water quality of our ponds, resample

and monitor annually and report the findings to us. In response to COLA and LEA, we formed a

local Water Quality Committee. As our focus began to shift we changed our name to the Five

Kezar Ponds Improvement Association in order that our name might reflect our expanded

mission.


Since the roads were the most visible part of our responsibility and were a continuing concern, in

1997 we invited the LEA to survey our 5 mile private road system and provide recommendations

to control runoff and further protect our fragile environment. At the same time we encouraged

residents to have the LEA conduct a “Clean Lake Checkup” to assist them in taking steps to

control runoff on their properties.


Each year, we make further improvements upon our road system, guided by the LEA

recommendations regarding crowning, ditching, diverting, and whatever else can be done to

avoid runoff into the ponds. Individual owners continue to avail themselves of the Clean Lake

Checkups and nearly all have taken steps to implement these LEA recommendations. During this

time we replaced two bridges with the proper permitting in order to better protect the

environment, through improved design and construction. Currently we have a design from the

LEA to improve upon a primitive boat launch area, which will further limit runoff. Needless to

say, our relationship with the LEA has been a very positive one.


In 2001, as part of the program of our Water Quality Committee, we began working with the

Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program (VLMP) and its related organization, the Maine Center for

Invasive Aquatic Plants (MCIAP). We currently have 12 certified plant patrollers and we

annually patrol our ponds for invasive plants following the guidelines of the MCIAP. In addition,

we have hosted two field workshops for them at the Five Kezar Ponds. This past year we

received the Invasive Aquatic Plant Prevention Award from the VLMP in recognition of our

efforts.


In the late 1990’s, we turned some of our attention to the critical role that large blocks of

forestland play in preserving water quality. We formed a Land Preservation Committee and

began a decade long partnership with the Greater Lovell Land Trust (GLLT). Our Association

President served on the GLLT Board of Directors where he championed the need for landscape

scale conservation under a focused, strategic plan. We provided representatives and input to the

development of the “Conservation Plan for the Kezar Lake, Kezar River and Cold River

Watersheds”, facilitated by the GLLT and completed in 2008. This partnership has enabled us to

raise the necessary funds to support the GLLT purchase of two significant parcels of land in our

watershed, leading to the permanent protection of a 259 acre forested parcel, preserving the

forestland at the headwaters of the Kezar River watershed. In addition preserving water quality,

these lands have the effect of providing trail systems for the benefit of all, as well as preserving

valued wildlife habitat. Somewhere during all this activity we changed our name once again, this

time to the Five Kezar Ponds Watershed Association to more accurately describe our expanded

efforts and activities throughout the watershed.


Residents gathered last summer to begin a dialogue, focusing on other steps we might take as an

association to further improve upon our environment. The workshop was appropriately

nicknamed the “Dream Workshop.” As a result of the workshop, several recommendations were

made and will be addressed in the coming year. Indeed, some initiatives are already in progress.

Another workshop is planned for this summer and we hope for increased participation.

As we look back over the years, we realize that our world is changing and that we have a

responsibility to change with it. Our motives are both selfish and pure. Yes, we want to protect

our own properties but we know that we cannot do so in a vacuum. Rather, we believe that our

efforts and those of our neighbors can make a difference both for ourselves and the ecosystems

that make up the forests around us. Our experience has taught us that by identifying the needs,

making a plan, taking on a few tasks at a time and building partnerships we can make steady

progress towards effective preservation of our environment. We feel fortunate to spend part of

our lives in the State of Maine and proud of what we, in concert with other volunteer

organizations have achieved.

Photo: Beth Francis