LCBP Casin' the Basin E-News



March 2012 | Issue #17

In This Issue

$450,000 in LCBP Grants Available

Missisquoi Bay Phosphorus Critical Source Report Released

LCBP Welcomes Elizabeth Newman

CVNHP Commemorates War of 1812

Education and Outreach Initiatives

11-day Program for Teachers Starts in July

LCBP Resource Room Reaches Milestone

Asian Clam Work on Lake George Continues


Join Our Mailing List!


Quick Links






The LCBP is pleased to announce the 2012 Local Implementation Grant programs. The LCBP anticipates awarding more than 40 grants, designed to help implement Opportunities for Action: An Evolving Plan for the Future of the Lake Champlain Basin. Project categories include pollution prevention, aquatic invasive species spread prevention, shoreline restoration and habitat improvement, and education and outreach initiatives. Funds have been made available to the LCBP through the efforts of Senator Patrick Leahy and other members of the Vermont and New York Congressional Delegation, from the International Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Maximum grant awards, depending on the category, will range from $7,500 to $15,000.


Sen. Leahy and Sec. Salazar

VYCC workers construct a bridge as part of a grant awarded to the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District for erosion control. Photo courtesy of VYCC.

Since 1992, the LCBP has awarded 784 local grants totaling nearly $4.8 million dollars in partnership with the EPA, the International Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and the National Park Service. Not-for-profits, municipalities, and educational institutions are encouraged to apply for the 2012 funds. In the most recent grant round, projects ranged from wetland restoration to stormwater detention to field based programs demonstrating the potential impact of shoreline development. Abstracts from past local grant projects funded through the Lake Champlain Basin Program appear in LCBP's searchable grant database at http://www.lcbp.org/grant_search.aspx.


For further information about grant criteria and guidelines, visit www.lcbp.org/grants.htm  or contact the Lake Champlain Basin Program office at (802) 372-3213 or call (800) 468-5227. Local implementation proposals must be submitted by March 27 at 4:30 p.m. to the LCBP office located at 54 West Shore Road, Grand Isle, Vermont.





In December 2011, the LCBP announced the release of the report "Identification of Critical Source Areas of Phosphorus within the Vermont Sector of the Missisquoi Bay Basin." Prepared under an LCBP contract to consultant Stone Environmental, this two-year-long effort will be instrumental in identifying and managing nutrient runoff in a bay that consistently has among the highest concentrations of phosphorus in Lake Champlain.


While sediment and nitrogen loads to the Bay are also a concern, phosphorus concentrations at times significantly exceed target levels established by Québec and Vermont. Phosphorus, which is linked to unsightly and potentially toxic blue-green algae blooms in the bay, is attributed to both urban and rural land uses throughout the Lake Champlain Basin. The project employed a Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model to identify phosphorus loading at several scales--including down to the individual farm field--in the predominantly rural Missisquoi River basin.


Crown Point

Sixty-four percent of upland phosphorus loading to Missisquoi Bay can be attributed to agricultural lands.

The project produced some striking findings. As much as 60% of the total phosphorus load in the Missisquoi River can be attributed to upland sources; the remaining 40% is largely attributed to stream bank erosion. Approximately 20% of the upland watershed area contributes as much as 75% of the phosphorus loading to the tributary network.  Land use analysis illustrates the disproportionate contributions of some land uses in this watershed. Agricultural land uses represent approximately 17% of the land area in the Missisquoi Bay basin, but contribute 64% of the upland phosphorus load into the Missisquoi River.


The project was conducted to address a 2008 reference to the International Joint Commission (IJC) by the governments of the United States and Canada to examine the most critical sources of phosphorus loading to the Missisquoi Bay. Through the efforts of Senator Patrick Leahy, the U.S. Congress appropriated a total of $800,000 to support the project. The LCBP established a program of short-term tributary monitoring to support the work and organized the acquisition of LiDAR elevation data. LCBP contracted to Stone Environmental to conduct the SWAT modeling, which was patterned after recent advances made by the Province of Québec in identifying critical sources of phosphorus. The International Joint Commission convened public meetings in Swanton, Vermont and St. Armand, Quebec to share the results with stake-holders on both sides of the border.


More information about these IJC-funded LCBP projects, including reports, approved deliverables, and relevant datasets can be found on the LCBP website at  www.lcbp.org/ijc.htm






LCBP recently welcomed Elizabeth Newman to the organization. Elizabeth will be working as a member of the Education and Outreach team. She is looking forward to applying her background in communications and design to help promote a better understanding of the Basin among residents and visitors. Elizabeth lives in the Islands and enjoys the lake and its many moods. Welcome Elizabeth!





In 2012, the communities in the Champlain Valley will commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812. While sometimes overlooked in the rich history of North America, the War of 1812 solidified the United States' status as a sovereign nation, spurred Canadian nationalism, and set the stage for the modern American political system. A decisive American victory at the Battle of Plattsburgh on September 11, 1814 ended a British invasion, marked the last naval battle of the conflict, and gave the United States a stronger standing in negotiating the peace treaty that ended the war. 

To launch the commemoration of these events, the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) unveiled the War of 1812 Interpretive Trail just prior to the Battle of Plattsburgh Weekend last September. The CVNHP worked with partners in New York and Vermont to develop a series of bilingual (English and French) interpretive signs to provide a better understanding of the conflict and its legacy. Wayside exhibits interpret the British land invasion from Québec, including locations of the Army's encampments, various headquarters, and field hospitals. Additional interpretive signs describe the land skirmishes between the King's troops and American forces. Other exhibits interpret the U.S.S. Saratoga, the survey of the U.S./Canadian border following the war, and the lives of African-Americans involved in the events of the time.


Sediment Plume

Bilingual wayside exhibit for the decisive Battle of Plattsburgh

The Interpretive Trail highlights the significance of the War of 1812 in the "Making of Nations"--one of three interpretive themes that are at central to the CVNHP's work in building appreciation and improving stewardship of the region's natural and cultural resources. The CVNHP provided translation and design assistance and production of interpretive signs--an estimated $1,500 value--at 11 sites along the trail. Each new sign includes a "QR code" for use by smartphones. The project was partially funded through a partnership with the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.


For more information about the War of 1812 in the Champlain Valley and sites on the Interpretive Trail, visit  www.1812war.org.


For more information about the wayside exhibit program, visit the  Wayside Exhibit page on the LCBP website. 






The Champlain Basin Education Initiative (CBEI) continues its work in building awareness of issues in the Basin among educators and learners of all ages.


On December 9, CBEI hosted a dozen educators for a slideshow review of last year's historic flood events in Vermont. LCBP Program Manager Bill Howland shared his aerial photos from the spring floods and Tropical Storm Irene and discussed the floods' impacts on the Lake and its tributaries.


The educators who attended the slideshow program were among the first to see the newly launched WatershED Matters website. This site, developed by LCBP and CBEI program partner Amy Demarest, is a resource for educators of all levels and subjects areas who are interested in incorporating watershed issues into their curriculum. The site features strategic and pedagogical guidance for curriculum design, service learning, and professional development as well as subject matter content about watershed and water quality issues in the Basin and beyond. Learn more at www.lcbp.org/watershedmatters/


Sediment Plume

Vermont fifth-graders present their watershed studies projects at the CBEI Climate Change Workshop.

CBEI also hosted a Climate Change workshop for educators on March 10 at St. Michael's College in Colchester, VT. Presenters included: Richard Kujawa, St. Michael's Geography Professor, Kara Lenorowitz, Colchester High School science teacher, Walter Poleman, UVM PLACE program director, and Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux, Vermont State Climatolo­gist. Check out the WatershED Matters blog for a summary of the day's events. The materials from this and other CBEI-sponsored workshops will also be posted to the WatershED Matters website.





diver collecting samples

Educators test water samples in a previous WEC program.

The March Climate Change workshop was a warm up for CBEI's 2012-2013 Watershed for Every Classroom (WEC) program. Whether studying Lake Champlain or a small stream in a local neighborhood, WEC prepares educators to engage students in meaningful watershed studies. Teachers will learn new skills of inquiry and observation and consider how they will best bring their new knowledge to their own classroom. This 11-day (over the course of one year) program starts July 9-13, 2012. The program will include site visits to Shelburne Farms, Mt. Philo, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, and the Adirondacks. Teachers can earn five graduate credits at St. Michaels's College for an additional fee. Contact Colleen Hickey at chickey@lcbp.org for more information.





Resource Room staff

Resource Room staffer Cynthia Norman demonstrates the intricacies of a paper wasp nest.

Seven days a week, year round since Memorial Day 2003, staff at the LCBP Resource Room at ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center have shared their vast watershed knowledge and provided lake-related resources to guests from the Basin and beyond. In August 2011, the 200,000th visitor walked through the doors of the second-story, corner nook that overlooks the Lake and Adirondacks. There were no streamers or confetti, but the milestone was an important one in efforts to promote stewardship of the lake by increasing understanding and appreciation of all it has to offer.


On any given day, the Resource Room might serve local families, tourists, anglers, teachers interested in stream study activities, or college students exploring Lake-related topics. Visitors' curiosities spark spontaneous conversations about topics ranging from invasive species to the history of the Chazy Reef to methods of streambank stabilization. While children complete an activity, Resource Room staff have the opportunity to engage their parents in discussions about Lake issues.


Visitors are delighted to have their questions answered. Staff encourage visitors to become involved, describing ways to participate with local watershed groups and providing contact information. Additional materials such as watershed maps, rain barrel installation guidelines, or fish consumptions advisories area also available.


Visitor number 250,000 is expected this summer! Will it be you?





The Lake George Asian Clam Rapid Response Task Force (LGACRRTF) continues its efforts to control the spread of Asian clams in Lake George, New York. Treatments to eradicate the invasive mussels started promptly after their discovery near Lake George Village in the summer of 2010. Initial efforts to smother the bottom dwellers with benthic barrier mats were 99% effective, but additional infestations were discovered at four sites in summer 2011, requiring continuing work in the Lake.


diver sieves sediments

A contract diver sieves sediment while surveying for Asian clam infestations. Photo courtesy of Lake George Association.

These additional discoveries prompted a lake-wide survey last fall. Task Force scientists and contract divers surveyed more than 160 shallow and sandy sites that could be potential clam habitat. When hundreds of hours of painstaking effort turned up no additional infestation sites in the lake, the Task Force turned its efforts to treating the known infestation sites.


In addition to the secondary treatments at Lake George Village, the team installed 275 benthic barrier mats over a 2.5-acre area at Norowal Marina. They also tested a suction harvesting method at Middleworth Bay, where a mixed substrate of rocks and soft sediment made treatment with mats less likely to succeed. The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum conducted an archaeological survey to ensure that the project would not affect historical artifacts, and the team implemented stringent measures to contain suspended sediments. The Task Force currently is comparing the efficiency of the barrier mat and suction harvesting treatments.


The Task Force is working with other Asian clam experts from Lake Tahoe, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Nevada. During a site visit to Lake George, a guest scientist discussed Lake Tahoe's mandatory boat inspection program. The collaboration has revealed common needs, including rapid response and cooperation among all lake stakeholders.


Visit  www.stoptheasianclam.info for the latest information on Asian clam control efforts in Lake George.  





The Lake Champlain Basin Program is now on Facebook. Head on over and like us. You can also follow us on Twitter.




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.