LCBP Casin' the Basin E-News


October 2011 | Issue #16

In This Issue

Interior Secretary Salazar Visits Basin

CVNHP Management Plan Approved

LCBP Welcomes Stephanie Strouse

Irene Brings More Water Quality Impacts

"Trees for Tribs" Program Launched

Asian Clam Treatment at Lake George Successful

CBEI Website to Launch Soon


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On August 15, Senator Patrick Leahy hosted Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for a tour of the Vermont lakeshore. During the visit, Sen. Leahy and Sec. Salazar, joined by Governor Peter Shumlin, announced the final approval of the management plan for the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's (USFWS) new leadership role in sea lamprey control in the Basin.

Sen. Leahy and Sec. Salazar

Senator Leahy and Secretary Salazar share a view of Lake Champlain from the LCBP Resource Room.


Sen. Leahy and Sec. Salazar started the day with a visit to the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, managed by USFWS, an Interior Department agency and LCBP partner with a pivotal role in managing the Basin's natural resources. The tour ended at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, where the Secretary and Senator toured the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center and LCBP's Resource Room. The Secretary also inspected the USGS gaging station on the waterfront and the Lois McClure, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's replica canal schooner.


Between these stops, Sen. Leahy and Sec. Salazar joined Governor Shumlin for a press conference at Biben's Ace Hardware on Mallets Bay in Colchester, where the Secretary emphasized the economic benefits of conservation and recreation initiatives such as heritage recreation and improved fisheries. The CVNHP, established by legislation co-written by Sen. Leahy and former Sen. Jim Jeffords, is expected to generate substantial new business revenues throughout the region each year. The ongoing sea lamprey control efforts, in which the US Fish and Wildlife Service take a lead role, is showing important signs of success as salmon and trout in Lake Champlain are healthier and more numerous. This effort has proven a very effective component in the return of a strong and healthy Lake Champlain fishery.   Research by fisheries biologists also indicates a strong correlation between sea lamprey decline and expansion of sport fisheries in the lake. 



The U.S. Department of Interior recently approved the management plan for the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP).  The new national heritage area includes any heritage resource or community within eleven Vermont and New York counties that contains a physical, cultural, or historical resource representing any of the CVNHP's three interpretive themes: Making of Nations, Corridor of Commerce, and Conservation and Community. 


Crown Point

History comes alive at at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

The CVNHP is one of 49 national heritage areas (NHA) in the country. NHAs are regional efforts established by the U. S. Congress, to promote resource stewardship and connect citizens to the process of preservation, interpretation, and marketing of heritage resources. This heritage area designation allows the LCBP to provide financial and professional support to communities, museums, and organizations that interpret and promote our region's history and culture. Over the past 20 years, the LCBP has promoted interpretation of the Champlain Valley's natural and cultural treasures in order to build understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of these resources, so there is already a strong foundation for this National Heritage Area designation. 


The planning process for the CVNHP began in 2008 and included 38 public meetings throughout the region and in Quebec. More than 872 people attended these meetings to discuss the how the heritage area should be managed. In the legislation authorizing the new heritage area, the Congress assigned the management of the program to the LCBP. More than $220,000 in CVNHP grants have been distributed by LCBP since 2008.






Technical Associate

Stephanie Strouse joined LCBP this summer.

The Lake Champlain Basin Program welcomed Stephanie Strouse to the team this summer. Stephanie helps manage research grants and GIS data throughout the Basin. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Science from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA and an M.S. in Fluvial Geomorphology from Boston College. Her thesis research examined dam-influenced sedimentation and land use change in a post-glacial watershed using LiDAR, radiocarbon dating, and hydraulic modeling. Stephanie's past work experience includes forest ecology research at Harvard Forest, vineyard work, and fish tracking with the USGS in the Columbia River Valley. Stephanie grew up on a farm and loves critters, gardening, open spaces, and all things country. She lives in Burlington. Welcome Stephanie!





Sediment Plume

A sediment plume at the mouth of Otter Creek two days following Tropical Storm Irene, 2011.

Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Irene brought record flooding to many Vermont and New York tributary streams, book-ending what seemed an ironic very dry period in a summer that started with record lake levels on Lake Champlain. Flooding impacts from Irene were felt most acutely in the tributaries in the southern sector of the Basin, where surging streams devastated both infrastructure and personal property in many areas. While lake levels increased rapidly, they remained far lower than the record levels seen in spring. As with the spring floods, tributary floodwaters again delivered large sediment and nutrient loads to the Lake.


Before Irene even hit, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and Quebec Premier Jean Charest had sent a joint letter to President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper requesting that they charge the International Joint Commission (IJC) with studying the causes of the spring flooding and proposing ways to mitigate the impacts of future floods. Irene's devastation dramatically underscored the need to learn from these intense natural disasters and proactively plan for the future.


The Lake Champlain Basin Program was tasked with convening a conference to explore flooding issues-including hazard mitigation, shoreline stabilization, climate change, and infrastructure and ecosystem impacts-and report to the Governors and the Premier. LCBP will host meetings of scientists and resource managers in the region in the fall and in follow-up meetings in 2012, to address these questions and make recommendations to improve the flood resiliency of communities in the Basin.





Sediment Plume

LCBP Technical Coordinator Eric Howe getting his feet wet.

LCBP staff joined nearly 100 other volunteers to help kick of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) "Trees for Tribs" tree planting program this fall. Funded by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as part of President Obama's America Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative, the program's goal is to restore and protect stream corridors in the Lake Champlain Basin. The initial event focused on stabilizing stream banks and reducing erosion in areas of the Ausable River Watershed that were damaged during Tropical Storm Irene.


Volunteers, local officials, and DEC and NRCS staff gathered in a light rain at Marcy Field in Keene for a brief kickoff event before dispersing to several different areas in the watershed to work. By the end of the day, rain was falling steadily and sediment-laden runoff streamed off bare ground where restoration work had been completed recently. In the course of the afternoon, the streams rose steadily, carrying a chocolately-brown load and making clear to the rain-soaked participants the need for the 1,000 trees they had planted.


The program, modeled after the "Trees for Tribs" program started by the Hudson River Estuary Program in 2007, aims to stabilize 20,000 feet of stream banks with trees provided by the Saratoga State Tree Nursery. Additional plantings are planned, starting next spring. DEC will be accepting applications from land owners and local governments for technical assistance and low-cost or no-cost native planting materials.

Visit DEC's
website for more information about the Lake Champlain Basin "Trees for Tribs" Program.





This summer's effort by the Lake George Asian Clam Rapid Response Task Force (LGACRRTF) to eradicate Asian clams from lake bottom near Lake George Village has been largely successful where it was located but, unfortunately, more infestations have been discovered. As the task force prepares for the final stage of treatment at the site, it also is deliberating on how best to control the invasive mollusks in other parts of the lake where they recently have established themselves.


Sampling results by the team have found that 99% of the clams have been killed in the area treated with benthic barrier mats since April. Completion of this control plan at the Lake George Village site remains the team's top priority. The team now will treat the five percent of the site that was not part of the original effort, including shallow beaches, rocky areas, and dock and wharf sites, with a combination of mats and suction harvesting.


diver collecting samples

Task force members survey for Asian clam infestations on Lake George. Photo courtesy of Lake George Association.

The task force's second priority is to continue its survey of potential additional infestation sites in the lake. Over 70 sites have been surveyed to date, and a similar number of areas remain. Unfortunately, several additional sites of Asian clam infestation have been discovered. The process is slow going, with snorkelers and divers inspecting and sieve sampling at a rate of 0.2 miles per hour. Cooler water temperatures will make completing the work this fall increasingly challenging.


The LGACRRTF is heartened by new commitments of funding for treatment of Asian clams on Lake George. The Warren County Board of Supervisors voted to allocate $100,000 to the project. The Lake George Park Commission has committed an additional $200,000 to the project and the Town of Bolton committed an additional $5,000 for use in 2011 and has made a commitment for further support in 2012.


Visit to track the progress and sign up for automatic updates on the treatment.





LCBP soon will launch WatershED Matters, a website devoted to watershed education in the Lake Champlain Basin. LCBP staff are developing the site in collaboration with curriculum specialist and program partner Amy Demarest to support the Champlain Basin Education Initiative (CBEI). CBEI is a consortium of environmental education groups in the Basin that develops and conducts educator workshops and training.


WatershED Matters is intended to be a resource for educators of all levels and subjects areas who are interested incorporating watershed issues into their curriculum. The site will feature strategy and process guidance for curriculum design, service learning, and professional development as well as subject matter content about specific watershed and water quality issues in the Basin and beyond. Additionally, as the site continues to develop, it will house a curriculum library that features materials developed as part of CBEI's flagship professional development workshop "A Watershed for Every Classroom."


Look for more information soon at  


 WatershED Matters Photo Collage




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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.