Lake Champlain Basin Program Releases Lake Management Plan Opportunities for Action
Today the Lake Champlain Basin Program released a new version of Opportunities for Action: An Evolving Plan for the Future of the Lake Champlain Basin. The management plan will guide the LCBP’s work over the next five years to improve and restore water quality and ecosystem integrity in the watershed. It lays out objectives and strategies to address four primary goals: Clean Water, Healthy Ecosystems, Thriving Communities, and an Informed and Involved Public.
The 2017 version of the plan is its fourth iteration. Conditions and issues have continued to change since the plan was first endorsed by the governors of New York and Vermont and the regional administrators of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1996. Progress has been made in many areas, and priorities for action have evolved to reflect the dynamic nature of human interactions in a complex ecosystem. Like previous updates in 2003 and 2010, the 2017 version addresses the latest challenges and opportunities related to nutrient loading, aquatic invasive species, habitat conservation, and cultural heritage preservation. Consistent with previous versions of the Plan, the 2017 Plan also includes a letter of support from Québec, documenting Quebec’s commitment to Lake Champlain management efforts.
In 1990, the Lake Champlain Special Designation Act, which led to the formation of the Lake Champlain Basin Program, was supported by Senators Leahy and Jeffords from Vermont and Senators Moynihan and D’Amato from New York.
Senator Patrick Leahy, who introduced the legislation that created the Basin Program more than 25 years ago, said: “I am proud that after more than 25 years, the Lake Champlain Basin Program is moving ahead, stronger than ever, with a fresh new plan and plenty of energy to protect and restore the Lake. As Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee it continues to be my priority to continue the federal share of the support required to make this plan a reality.”
Opportunities for Action is a tool for the Lake Champlain Steering Committee, which serves as forum for information exchange and a mechanism to coordinate the efforts of stakeholders working on lake-related issues from New York, Vermont and Québec. The committee develops the LCBP’s annual budget and directs its work, including several key functions that are defined in the plan: coordinate actions that benefit the watershed; support local level involvement and public engagement; monitor success relative to benchmarks; promote and advise partner communications; secure and direct funding; conduct sound research; and regularly update plan recommendations. These functions inform priority task areas for each goal, which are implemented through the LCBP’s annual budget process.
Examples of accomplishments in recent years include:
• greeting and surveying 25,697 boaters by Lake Champlain boat launch stewards in 2016 in an effort to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species
• awarding nearly 4 million dollars through LCBP’s local grant programs in the past 5 years to more than 300 community partners
• implementing new management practices to reduce agricultural pollution from farm fields and urbans areas including the installation of large waterfront bioretention ponds in Plattsburgh, NY and Burlington, Vt
• welcoming more than 125,000 visitors in the past 5 years to the LCBP Resource Room at the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
• identifying key research results leading to the reduction of pollution entering Lake Champlain and improvement of aquatic organism passage for fish and wildlife species
“The success of this plan hinges on the involvement of the public and engagement of local organizations. We must ensure that communities within the Lake Champlain Basin—from St. Armand, NY to Saint Armand, Quebec, to Wolcott, VT—understand and appreciate the value of Lake Champlain, and have the capacity to do their part to improve the health of the watershed.” said Eric Howe, Director of the Lake Champlain Basin Program and Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership.
“Québec is proud to continue to implement the updated Management Plan alongside its Vermont and New York State partners,” said David Heurtel, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight against Climate. “We are convinced that concerted action by all of the partners will allow us to succeed in improving the waters of Lake Champlain, improving ecosystem protection and ensuring the continuation of the numerous activities that take place there. Protecting this inestimable bounty means guaranteeing our own quality of life, but also the quality of life of our children and the generations that will follow. Let’s do it for them!”
The 2017 Opportunities for Action plan will focus Lake Champlain Basin Program resources to ensure that new information is available to inform decisions and policies and that sound science continues to be supported. The new management plan will prioritize protection and conservation of critical habitat areas that protect important species and also improve water quality, and will also continue to identify ways to reduce threats from new invasions of aquatic species. The new Plan will promote the importance of the Lake Champlain watershed to our communities by supporting access to the rich culture, heritage, and recreational opportunities found within the Lake Champlain region. New outreach efforts will focus on interpreting important outcomes of scientific research to the general public and policymakers in the region, and continue to build school programs and partnerships.
Please visit the Lake Champlain Basin Program website plan.lcbp.org to view a copy of the revised Plan.