LCBP Casin' the Basin E-News



February 2011 | Issue #14

In This Issue

$1.1 Million In Grants Awarded

New Publications Coordinator

Education and Outreach Interns

Fall Salmon Run

Asian Clam Invasian

Reducing Missisquoi Phosporus

Resource Room Update

Farewell to Dick Furbush


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On November 30, 2010 the Lake Champlain Basin Program awarded nearly $1.2 million in grants to local organizations through two separate funding programs.


The Local Implementation grant program supports efforts to increase community involvement in the implementation of Opportunities for Action, the long-term comprehensive management plan for the lake. More than $775,000 was made available from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the EPA with appropriations supported by Senator Patrick Leahy. The grants fund projects in four categories:preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, pollution prevention, education and outreach, and organizational support for watershed organizations.The amount of the awards for pollution prevention and aquatic invasive species grants increased to $25,000 this year. Fourteen education and outreach projects received up to $7,500 and organizational grants as much as $3,000. Project examples include wetland monitoring along the Boquet River, rapid response to the newly discoCVTA work crewvered Asian clam in Lake George, stormwater improvement projects throughout the Lake Champlain Basin, and school outreach programs.


Water Quality Improvement Grants were awarded for projects that will implement water quality protection measures on agricultural operations in the Southern Lake Champlain watershed. These projects will help reduce phosphorus pollution in Lake Champlain. The $400,000 in funding for this program comes from the Lake Champlain Mitigation Funds paid as a result of a court-ordered settlement that was provided to the LCBP by the Attorneys General of New York and Vermont. Funded projects include a waste treatment system for milk house waste water, barnyard runoff management, and farm exclusion fencing.


Image: A Cross Vermont Trail Association work crew helps to install erosion control in an area where roadway runoff threatens to undermine the trail. Photo by CVTA.



Ryan Mitchell came on board as Communications and Publications Coordinator in January. Ryan coordinates content development, editing, and graphic design for LCBP publications, websites, and exhibits, and assists with education and outreach programs. Ryan has a B.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Connecticut and an M.S. in Geography from Portland State University. His past experience includes work in environmental permitting at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, publications at Earthwatch Institute, and education outreach at the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Geographic Alliance. Most recently he has worked in GIS at the City of South Burlington's Stormwater Services division and at the UVM Spatial Analysis Lab. He lives in Burlington with his wife and two sons.




Two new interns joined the Education and Outreach team for the winter.

Alice Drislane has been working on the "Don't P on the Lawn" campaign and with visitors to the LCBP Resource Room at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. Alice was one of the first employees in the "old blue box" (the Lake Champlain Basin Science Center) back in 1995 serving as Office Manager and working in public programming. Since then, Alice spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Belize, taught adult education and at CCV, and ran her own perennial gardening business. To learn more about Alice's work with the "Don't P on your Lawn" campaign, please visit

Becca Rimmel has joined the Basin Program team to continue her work in improving Lake Champlain's water quality. She has spent the last five years working for environmental non-profits in Vermont, including Audubon Vermont and the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. When not working, Becca fills her time by snapping photographs of amazing subjects in Vermont and the New England area.





During the early years of European settlement in the Lake Champlain Basin, landlocked Atlantic salmon (the same species as anadromous Atlantic salmon) were a common sight. During their fall spawning season, they could be seen making their way up some of the major tributaries to Lake Champlain, such as the Winooski, Saranac, Ausable and Boquet Rivers. Sometime during the late 1800s Atlantic salmon populations in Lake Champlain started to decline-and then they disappeared entirely. Scientists have identified over-fishing and increasing Sea Lamprey populations as the primary causes of this decline.  

 Salmon electroshocking

After several attempts to restock landlocked Atlantic salmon in Lake Champlain tributaries, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation finally had some success during a new program initiative in 1976. Since then, an increasing number of salmon have spawned in the Boquet River.Emily Zollweg, Fisheries Biologist for NYSDEC, said that the 2010 salmon run was "the biggest run in many, many years-since the early 1990s," with a total of 51 landlocked Atlantic salmon counted by DEC. A large number of salmon also migrated up the Winooski River this fall, where over 130 salmon were trapped by the Winooski-One Hydroelectric facility's fish lift. These numbers are encouraging signs that restocking efforts are working!


Image: Dave Gibson of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Dept. and Nick Staats of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collect data on spawning salmon. Photo by LCBP. 





For the past four years, the LCBP has hosted a Rapid Response workgroup to address the arrival of new invasive species in the watershed. In August 2010 the Asian clam Corbicula fluminea was discovered in Lake George, New York.  This small bivalve is native to tropical areas in Asia, the eastern Mediterranean, and Australia.  Although it's a small animal, it can densely cover large areas of underwater surfaces. Researchers investigating the presence of clams in Lake George found concentrations of up to 600 clams per square meter that covered an area of up to 2.5 acres just off of Lake Avenue Beach in Lake George Village.  


If not controlled, the Asian clams can clog intake pipes, impact algae blooms by increasing phosphorus levels, and displace native mussel species such as the Eastern Elliptio. To avoid potential impacts to the Lake George ecosystem, the Darrin Fresh Water Institute, the Lake George Park Commission, the Lake George Association, the FUNBenthic barrier matsD for Lake George, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, and the Lake Champlain Basin Program developed a rapid response eradication plan. This plan, which uses benthic barrier mats to smother the clams, was piloted in October and November 2010 and proved to be successful. The Lake George Asian Clam Rapid Response Task Force has been meeting weekly to evaluate the pilot study and plan a full scale eradication effort to be launched in Spring 2011.


Because Asian clams can spread by being moved in contaminated sediment or water taken from directly above contaminated areas, it is extremely important that all boaters take the time to wash their boats and all of their equipment before entering or exiting Lake George or other bodies of water.


Image: Rapid Response Task Force partners lay benthic barrier mats. Photo by LCBP.





In partnership with the International Joint Commission (IJC), LCBP continued efforts in 2010 to identify sources of phosphorus and reduce loading into Missisquoi Bay. In April LCBP awarded a contract for the Identification of Critical Source Areas of Phosphorus Pollution within the Vermont Sector of the Missisquoi Bay Basin to Stone Environmental, Inc. This study will help resource managers identify the location and type of areas to target for better land stewardship. The program coordinated the acquisition of 560 square miles of high-quality digital elevation data for use in hydrologic modeling. In addition, LCBP staff presented a project overview at two IJC Public Outreach meetings in Swanton, VT and St. Armand, QC, and collected water qualiCollecting water samplesty samples at five tributaries to the Missisquoi River, including during 14 storm events.


The work is part of a coordinated research program initiated by the IJC and LCBP at the request of the U.S. and Canadian governments in August 2008. LCBP was tasked with defining appropriate research methodologies, quality assurance, and ensuring proper peer review for the work. Two appropriations from the U.S. Congress totaling $800,000, secured with the help of Senator Leahy, support this work. LCBP staff and contractors will complete this project in 2011, with a final report anticipated in September.


Image: LCBP staff collect water samples on Black Creek in Sheldon, VT. Photo by LCBP.   





This winter the LCBP Resource Room has been filled with activity and new exhibits. Luckily, our staff is now assisted by six exceptional volunteers who help with daily operations and take on special projects. Because of our close partnership with ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Resource Room volunteers Susan Grasso and Holly Puterbaugh were both recently recognized as ECHO "Volunteers of the Week." Thanks also to Faye Baker, Diane Cohen, Dave Hathaway and Sara Lesperance. We couldn't do it without you!


TResource room staffhe new Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership is highlighted in a new display and an expanded collection of maps, books and brochures. The Heritage Partnership brings our focus beyond the Basin to the interconnected waterways of Lake Champlain, Lake George, the Champlain Canal and the Upper Hudson River. With this new designation there are many new places to explore and stories to tell!


This fall the Resource Room's popular Discovery Cabinet launched a "Clean Water Rangers" program. The program encourages youngsters to take actions that help the lake, earning stickers for their efforts. As always, the changing seasons bring new books, tools and educational toys. When the snowflakes fly, home winterization, ski touring and animal tracking resources are perennial favorites. Inspired by ECHO's temporary exhibit "Raise the Roof" we are also featuring books and displays on architecture. In addition to the elegant buildings of our region, we have information on animal architecture, including a fascinating display of wasp nests. Stop by the LCBP Resource Room and check it out!


Image: Resource Room staffer Laura Hollowell helps visiting high school students. Photo by LCBP.





In December, a long time friend of the Lake Champlain Basin Program, Captain Dick Furbush stepped into retirement. We hope that Dick will enjoy many long and sunny afternoons fishing and exploring with his grandchildren! Dick has been a tireless supporter of lake research investigations for more than three decades. He guided the Melosira through thousands of field trips and sampling opportunities and, in his own soft spoken voice, patiently provided scientific insight to so many students and adults who were privileged to share his lake journey.


Dick FurbushThrough his work at UVM, Dick has been a partner in many lake projects in which the LCBP has played a role including the Burlington Bay Project, blue green algae sampling and many fisheries research projects. We know Dick as an avid fisherman and fellow lake steward, providing assistance with historical lake research, bathymetric studies and water quality monitoring from Missisquoi Bay to Whitehall. We are also truly thankful for the time Dick spent with basin teachers in the Champlain Basin Education Initiative since 1991, sharing his stories and technical expertise with both them and their students. We wish him the best in retirement!


Image: Dick Furbush shares fish samples with Vermont teachers. Photo by LCBP.




LCBP LogoMain Office in Grand Isle:


54 West Shore Road

Grand Isle, VT 05458

(802) 372-3213 or (800) 468-5227 (toll-free in NY & VT)


LCBP Resource Room: The Resource Room at The Leahy Center for Lake Champlain (top floor of ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center) is open to the public seven days/week. Call (802) 864-1848 ext. 109 for more information.