LCBP Casin' the Basin E-News



October 2012 | Issue #18

In This Issue

State of the Lake Report Released

Lake Champlain Committee Completes Missisquoi AIS Survey

Spiny Water Flea Invades Lake Champlain Basin

IJC Establishes Flooding Study Workgroup

Flood Conference Draws 200+

New Exhibits Interpret Water Resources at Camp DREAM

Educators Explore the Lake Champlain Watershed

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On August 1st the Lake Champlain Basin Program released State of the Lake and Ecosystems Indicators Report 2012. The report informs citizens and resource managers about Lake Champlain's condition and provides a better understanding of threats to its health and opportunities to meet the challenges ahead.


The latest edition of the document, which is produced every three or four years and is based on the latest science and management perspectives, summarizes several categories of lake health: phosphorus, human health, fish and wildllife, and aquatic invasive species. This year's report also includes a special section on the effects of the historic flooding of 2011.

At the press event for the document's unveiling, LCBP Program Manager Bill Howland noted, "Again, in 2012, we share both good and not so good news, depending on which issue and which lake segment is being discussed. Certainly the Lake is not meeting phosphorus concentration targets, but each jurisdiction remains diligent and active in their efforts to decrease loads."


The LCBP has launched an online version of the State of the Lake, which includes all the content in the print document as well as supplemental material and additional French translation. Hard copies are also available free of charge by contacting   



Project scientist inventorying vegetation. Photo: Arrowwood Environmental.

Missisquoi Bay has experienced several recent infestations by aquatic invasive species (AIS), most notably water chestnut in 2005 and variable-leaf watermilfoil in 2009. With LCBP funding, the Lake Champlain Committee and Arrowwood Environmental partnered in 2011 to conduct an inventory of aquatic invasive species and native aquatic vegetation and develop a plan to address invasives in the Vermont portion of the bay.


The inventory found three previously undocumented invasive species. Eurasian watermilfoil is widespread but is largely interspersed with native communities and is not choking out native vegetation, and European frogbit was discovered in small numbers in three areas. Variable-leaved watermilfoil has become well-established in one area, comprising up to 90% of the plant cover and choking out native water lily, eelgrass, and water stargrass. The project documented a patchwork of eight different natural communities. Three of these communities are not recognized in their current form by the State of Vermont. In an effort to update and standardize the state's aquatic community classification, two have been proposed for adoption.


The plan identified control of the Variable-leaved watermilfoil as a high priority and recommended hand pulling. This particular population, which has become well established and threatens State Significant native communities, is one of only two in the state. Ensuring that European frogbit does not become well-established also is a high priority. While this species was found at low densities, eradication in the early stages of establishment is vital.  





Spiny waterflea fouls ropes and fishing lines. Photo: Minnesota Sea Grant

In addition to the thousands of tourists and recreationists who visited Lake Champlain this summer, one unwelcome visitor made its way to the Basin. The invasive spiny water flea was first discovered in the Champlain and Glens Falls Feeder Canals in June during routine work conducted as part of the LCBP-supported Long Term Monitoring Project. By the end of July, an angler also found the tiny zooplanton in Lake George, less than two river miles away from Lake Champlain.


These findings mark the first known occurrences in the Basin of the spiny water flea, an aquatic invasive species native to Eurasia. Spiny water flea feeds on other zooplankton that are prey for fish and other native aquatic organisms, and foul anglers' fishing lines with their spiny tails. They reproduce rapidly, particularly in warmer months, when they can grow to maturity and lay more eggs in as little as two weeks. "Resting" eggs can lay dormant in cooler waters for long periods of time prior to hatching.


The discovery served as a reminder of the critical need to address the Champlain Canal's role as a potential vector of invasive species to Lake Champlain. The Lake Champlain Basin Aquatic Invasive Species Rapid Response Take Force recommended redirecting the flow of the feeder canal into the Hudson River and moving forward with a long-delayed feasibility study for a hydraulic barrier between the canal and Lake Champlain. The Task Force recommended focusing immediate action on spread prevention, emphasizing the need for public education, monitoring, and identification of lake most susceptible to future invasions.


For more information, please refer to the LCBP Spiny Water Flea and the NYSDEC Lake George news releases.





The International Joint Commission (IJC) has appointed the International Lake Champlain-Richelieu River Plan of Study Workgroup to examine and report on the spring 2011 flooding in the Richelieu River and Lake Champlain and its tributaries. The IJC established the workgroup in response to a request by Canada and the United States for recommendations regarding a comprehensive study of measures to mitigate flooding and its impacts in the region.


The IJC is an impartial bi-national body that assists the governments of Canada and United States in resolving water resource issues along the border. The ILCRR Workgroup consists of a co-chair, two members, and a secretary from each nation.


Flooded streets like those of Venise-en-Québec were common along the Missisquoi Bay shoreline during the spring 2011 floods. Photo: Québec MDDEP.

The Workgroup will identify specific studies that are necessary to evaluate the causes and impacts of the spring 2011 flooding and to develop appropriate mitigation solutions and recommendations. The Workgroup will consider gaps in data, policies, and communications. The plan will also address adaptation to climate change and future water supply needs, implementation of flood-plain management practices, and the need for real-time flood inundation mapping.


With input gathered at public meetings conducted in Québec and Vermont in August, the Workgroup anticipates having a draft of the plan available for review in October. After additional public meetings, the final plan will be submitted to the Commission in December. Comments may be submitted to the Workgroup website or addressed to the Workgroup co-secretaries.

Stephanie Strouse                                                     Madeleine Papineau
U.S Co-secretary U.S.                                               Canada Co-secretary
Lake Champlain Basin Program                                  801-1550 D'Estimauville Avenue
54 West Shore Rd                                                     Québec, Qc G1J 0C3
Grand Isle, VT 05458                                                 Canada





Vermont DEC river scientist Staci Pomeroy (right) demonstrates the river flume model to conference participants. Photo: LCBP

More than 200 scientists, resource managers, and policy makers gathered for two days in Burlington, Vermont in June to examine flood resilience in the Lake Champlain Basin. Organized by the Lake Champlain Basin Program, the conference brought local partners and national experts together to examine the impacts of last year's historic flooding from spring rains and Tropical Storm Irene, and to consider steps to mitigate the environmental and human impacts of future flood events.


Two full days of presentations and forums resulted in lively discussions and proposals. The program included sessions focused on technical aspects of river and lake systems, emergency response, the impact of climate change on future flood events, flood hazard mapping, and flood mitigation policy. An evening session provided the public an opportunity to participate in the dialogue and view a model demonstration of river behavior and processes.


Several common themes emerged during the program, including the importance of allowing rivers to access their floodplains, the need for workable tools and incentives to limit development in flood hazard areas, and the need to communicate effectively with the public about water science and management.   




The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) and the Champlain Valley National Heritage Area (CVNHP) provided interpretive planning and design services for a non-profit summer camp for children living in low-income communities. The Camp DREAM "Ways of Water Interpretive Trail" includes seven wayside exhibits that focus on water quality on the 50-acre property.


Located on Metcalf Pond in Fletcher, Vermont, Camp DREAM offers free, innovative, and inspiring summer and winter camp experiences to children throughout Vermont, allowing them to build a sense of caring for the community, environment, and themselves. The camp is a collaborative effort that includes partnerships with many non-profit organizations, businesses, and individuals. Volunteers from IBM developed the trail and collaborated with LCBP/CVNHP and DREAM Program staff in crafting the interpretive theme and the focus for each exhibit. 


The DREAM Program, Inc. is a non-profit mentoring program that pairs college students with children living in affordable housing neighborhoods. Visit the DREAM program's website for more information. Visitors are welcome to visit Camp DREAM when camps are not in session.


"Ways of Water" Interpretive Trail exhibit


 View the Ways of Water Interpretive Trail exhibits.





Char Mehrtens, a professor of geology at UVM, teaches WEC teachers about the geology of the Lake Champlain Basin from the summit of Mount Philo in Charlotte, Vermont. Photo: LCBP 

The Champlain Basin Education Initiative (CBEI) partners worked with ten middle and high school educators this summer during the first five days of an eleven-day course, A Watershed for Every Classroom. The educators, who have the option of obtaining five graduate credits for the course through St. Michaels's College, learned about the Basin's geologic history atop Mt. Philo with University of Vermont's Dr. Char Mehrtens, and the history of human settlement while rowing long boats with Maritime Museum staff. While canoeing the LaPlatte River, they learned about the Lake Champlain watershed, invasive species, the importance of journaling, and how natural systems are linked together. They spent their last two days exploring the Adirondacks, learning about the Boquet River communities' experiences with Tropical Storm Irene, then monitoring the length of the AuSable River from headwaters to its outlet into Lake Champlain.
Educators will meet again in October, February, and May to explore links between agricultural, habitat, and water quality, how to integrate their field studies with classroom technology, and how seasonal changes affect the Lake Champlain Basin.
Current CBEI partners include: the LCBP, Shelburne Farms, Lake Champlain Sea Grant - UVM Watershed Alliance, the Lake Champlain Committee and ECHO at the Leahy Center. Amy Demarest from Our Curriculum Matters works with the CBEI partners as the curriculum coach.  For more information on upcoming educator programs, contact Colleen Hickey at the LCBP at




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