Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Environmental Studies Program


Russell Cole

Second Advisor

Philip Nyhus

Third Advisor

Catherine Bevier


Maine’s nearly 6,000 lakes are a vital resource for the state, generating $6 billion in annual economic activity and sustaining 52,000 jobs. Over the course of the last several decades, this resource has increasingly been threatened by development and related problems, especially nutrient runoff. LakeSmart is a lake protection program designed to stem the flow of nutrient runoff by promoting and rewarding the use lake-friendly landscaping practices.

For this project, I traced the history of LakeSmart from its roots in the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and, through stakeholder interviews and surveys, chronicled its development into the flagship program of the Maine Lakes Society. To assess the program’s effectiveness, I examined the drivers of and barriers to conservation behavior and how they have been addressed in the design and implementation of the program.

Through the use of surveys and stakeholder interviews, I identified potential areas of improvement in the structural design of LakeSmart as well as in the way it presents itself to potential participants. Specifically, the program can improve its mentoring process for property owners who do not receive LakeSmart certification, it can develop partnerships with member-rich groups to increase exposure of the program to new potential participants, and it can foster a strong sense of place in lake communities by becoming involved in local events. In addition, LakeSmart can improve the training for the evaluators and screeners by increasing “job-shadowing” opportunities with experienced LakeSmart inspectors, and it can reduce redundancy, subjectivity, and unclear wording in its evaluation form. If LakeSmart implements these changes, along with other already in the process of being implemented, there is real potential for expansion within and beyond the state of Maine.


Maine, lake, LakeSmart, Belgrade, protection, conservation