Clean Water
Matters!

The diverse ecosystems, working
landscapes, and vibrant communities
that inspire and sustain us depend on
clean water. Learn about pollution
reduction strategies.

Healthy Habitats
Connect Us All

Lakeshores, stream banks, and wetlands are critical to clean
water and biodiversity. Learn about efforts to improve
habitat connectivity in the Basin ecosystem.

We Care for
What We Know

Recreation fosters stewardship of the Basin’s rich
natural and cultural heritage by connecting people
to the landscape while supporting local economies.
Learn about ways to explore the Basin.

Informed Citizens
Make Wiser Choices

Citizens who have an understanding and
appreciation of water resources make informed
choices about actions that might contribute to
pollution. Learn about education programs.

    About the Basin

    Did You Know?

    Lake Champlain now flows north to the St. Lawrence River, but during the Ice Age, the Lake flowed south, emptying into the Hudson River.
    Find out more

    A Vibrant Region

    The South Lake with the new Champlain Bridge and snow dappled Adirondack High Peaks. Photo: Matt McCarthy

    The South Lake with the new Champlain Bridge and early season snow in the Adirondack High Peaks. Photo: Matt McCarthy

    Rich in history, beautiful by nature.

    Ringed by mountains and fertile lowlands, the Champlain Valley is filled with water carried from the surrounding land by a large network of rivers and streams. Rain and melting snow cascade down the rugged peaks of the Adirondacks, meander through the fields of Québec, and roll through the hills and mountains of Vermont. These tributaries, and their associated lakes and ponds, drain a far-flung watershed known as the Lake Champlain Basin. At 8,234 square miles, this drainage area is remarkably large, measuring 19 times larger than the surface area of the Lake itself.

    With waters in New York and Vermont in the United States, and the Province of Québec in Canada, Lake Champlain crosses political boundaries and unites a culturally diverse area. Beginning near Whitehall, New York, the Lake flows north over 100 miles to the Canadian border and the outlet of the Richelieu River. The Richelieu then flows north to the St. Lawrence River, and onward to the Atlantic Ocean.

    The Lois McClure is a replica of the sailing canal boats that plied Lake Champlain waters with commercial goods during the 19th century. Photo: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

    Lake Champlain’s natural resources and connectivity with other waterways have long made it an ideal location for human settlement and trade. Since the arrival of the first Native peoples, the history of the region has been inseparable from the Lake. Today, more than 600,000 people live in the Lake Champlain Basin and millions visit each year to enjoy its waters and other natural and historic features.

    The Champlain Basin is covered with a patchwork of natural and human communities; a landscape in constant change. The watershed’s natural diversity includes significant freshwater wetlands, complex aquatic ecosystems, a world class fishery and abundant wildlife habitat. The waterways used by humans are also vital corridors and migration routes for animals including large mammals, fish and waterbirds. Many rare and endangered species of plants and animals also find habitat in the conservation areas and working lands of the Lake and Basin.

    The sheer cliffs of the Palisades at Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest in New York plunge 100 feet into the Lake and another 140 feet below the surface.

    The sheer cliffs of the Palisades at Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest in New York plunge 100 feet into the Lake and another 140 feet below the surface.

    The Lake’s intricate shoreline, measuring over 587 miles, features rocky bluffs, sand and cobble beaches, deltas and a variety of wetlands. More than 70 islands dot the waters, and numerous inlets and bays add to the complexity of the Lake’s narrow profile. At its deepest, the Lake plunges down 400 feet, with an average depth of 64 feet. The southernmost regions of the South Lake are much like a river, which widens into the scenic expanse of the Main Lake. At Malletts Bay, the Lake reaches its greatest width, stretching 12 miles across. To the north, the Champlain Islands define an area known as the Northeast Arm, and in the far northeastern corner are the shallow waters of Missisquoi Bay. Each lake segment has unique characteristics and water quality issues.

    Culture of Stewardship

    A healthy Lake Champlain is integral to the region’s quality of life, providing drinking water, recreation, fish and wildlife, and scenery for residents and visitors to use and enjoy. These natural and cultural resources attract business, tourism, and a thriving cultural scene. For centuries, human activities on the land have also profoundly influenced the Lake. Pollution, overfishing, and dams have dramatically changed aquatic communities. The alteration of shorelines and rivers, the destruction of wetlands, and the arrival of nonnative species also have had an impact. Erosion and stormwater runoff bring sediments, fertilizers, and other pollutants into the water, with excess nutrients that can fuel the growth of unwanted plants and algae. Bacteria, toxins, airborne pollution, and climate change also threaten water quality and the Lake ecosystem.

    Citizen participating is essential to protecting the Basin's natural and cultural resources. Photo: Friends of the WInooski River

    Citizen participation is essential to protecting the Basin’s natural and cultural resources. Photo: Friends of the WInooski River

    Partnerships are working throughout the Basin to protect and restore Lake Champlain and its watershed. Efforts are underway to control stormwater and agricultural runoff, stabilize river channels and protect wildlife habitats. Other priorities include ecological restoration, management of aquatic invasive species, and reduction of toxins. Citizen participation, community education, and sound management are all essential to the success of these initiatives. Lake Champlain and its watershed have shaped our history, our communities, and our lives. The stewardship of a healthy Lake will help to create a sustainable future for all of the Lake Champlain Basin.

    What is the State of the Lake?

    What is the
    State of the Lake?

    Learn about the health of Lake Champlain in the 2015 State of the Lake report. Read about trends in key indicators of water quality and ecosystem health. Read the State of the Lake report

    Volunteers

    Make Some Waves

    From using lake-friendly cleaning products to volunteering with a local watershed group, you can help restore and protect the Lake Champlain Basin. Find out how you can get involved

    Track Our Progress

    Track Our Progress

    Explore the goals and actions of our partners and track our progress online with the Opportunities for Action website. View Opportunities for Action

    © 2017 Lake Champlain Basin Program
    Site design: Taylor Design
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    Lake Champlain Basin Program

    Lake Champlain Basin Program
    54 West Shore Road
    Grand Isle, VT 05458
    800-468-5227 (NY & VT)
    or 802-372-3213