SEDIMENT LOADING FROM STREAMBANKS
Anyone who paddles on the Missisquoi River will notice severe erosion
and undercutting of streambanks along many stretches of the river. And
anyone who follows water quality issues on Lake Champlain will be aware
of high phosphorus concentrations in Missisquoi Bay. For years,
evidence has suggested that the two are related. Now a study conducted
by the USDA National Sedimentation Laboratory (NSL), with funding from
LCBP and VT ANR, confirms that a significant
portion -- surprisingly high, to some observers -- of the
sediment that enters the Lake from Missisquoi River is from streambank
study, which applied the NSL's BSTEM (Bank-Stability and Toe-Erosion
Model) tool to 30 sites on the main stem and tributaries in the U.S.
portion of the Missisquoi River basin, found that 36% (36,000 tons) of
the sediment that enters
Failed streambanks are a significant
source of sediment and phosphorus
in the Missisquoi River.
Bay each year is from streambank erosion. Hitching a ride on sediment
particles is one of the primary ways that nutrients find their way to
surface waters, and the study found corresponding high phosphorus
loading rates. The study concluded that thirty-six percent (52 tons) of
all phosphorus entering the Bay in a year originate from streambank
materials. NSL's work also confirmed the observations of other studies,
noting that more than 50% of streambanks were failing in many of the
US EPA has ranked sediment and nutrients among the leading water
quality impairments in this area for more than two decades. Phosphorus
concentrations in Missisquoi Bay are consistently above targets
established by Vermont and Québec. Sediments can smother critical
macroinvertebrate habitat on stream beds. Excess phosphorus contributes
to unsightly and potentially toxic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)
blooms in Missisquoi Bay. Streambank erosion also can have economic
consequences when farmers lose a portion of their land base.
researchers also looked at three scenarios for mitigating stream bank
erosion with stabilization treatments. Stabilization provided by
established five-year-old trees could reduce phosphorus loadings by
29%, while grading banks to a 2-to-1 slope could result in a 14%
reduction. A combination of both techniques could reduce loadings by
Link to the complete report:
Loadings from Streambank Erosion in Selected Agricultural Watersheds
Draining to Lake Champlain.
TARGETS AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES
witnessed by the growing number of cars with canoes and kayaks strapped
on their roofs, paddling is becoming increasingly popular in the Lake
Champlain Basin. With this growth in the sport comes a greater risk of
the spread of aquatic invasive species. The Northern Forest Canoe Trail
(NFCT), a Waitsfield, VT-based organization, recently completed an
initiative to help prevent the spread of invasives along its 740-mile
paddling route through northern New
project, which focused on the portion of the trail within the Lake
Champlain Basin, took a multipronged approach: developing a spread
prevention message targeted specifically at paddlers that could be used
nationwide; designing compelling signage; prioritizing areas for signs
and installing signage along the Saranac River, Lake Champlain, and the
Missisquoi River; and creating an online map tool
showing known locations of aquatic invasive species along the Northern
Forest Canoe Trail.
Paddlers play a critical role in preventing spread of
AIS. Photo: LCBP
A survey of
existing AIS spread prevention messages aimed at paddlers around the
country found that existing education efforts did not provide current
detailed information. NFCT worked with the national Aquatic Nuisance
Species Task Force to incorporate the latest spread prevention protocols
into the signs. Staff from towns along the rivers and the Missisquoi
National Wildlife Refuge and Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife
helped identify the most effective locations for signage. The Adirondack
Park Invasives Plant Program, the NY Department of Environmental
Conservation, and the VT Department of Environmental Conservation
provided data and helped with development of the interactive map.
ADIRONDACK GROUP ASSESSES ROAD SALT IMPACTS
Monitoring equipment installed at 13 locations in
the Adirondacks will allow researchers to assess the impact of
road salts on water quality. Photo: AWI.
Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) of Paul Smith's College estimates
that 160,000 metric tons of salt are applied to paved roads in the
Adirondack Park each year. In an effort to monitor the effect of road
salt on water quality, AWI purchased and installed water level and
conductivity loggers at 13 sites in the Ausable, Boquet, and Saranac river
watersheds. The new equipment will allow researchers to develop accurate
estimates of chloride loads to lakes and streams.
concentrations of salt can be toxic to aquatic life and cause
hypertension in humans. Salt also causes dehydration in plant
foliage and can disrupt the uptake of critical nutrients. The Canadian
federal government and several US states have explored -- and in some
cases have required -- alternative deicing methods to protect drinking
water supplies and reduce damage to roadside habitat due to salt injury.
Recent studies indicate that chloride levels in parts of Lake
Champlain have increased as much as 30% over the last ten years.
data for 138 Adirondack lakes indicate dramatically higher concentrations
of sodium and chloride in watersheds with paved roads than in those
without paved roads. Their research also has shown a correlation between
the density of paved roads in a watershed and the concentration of sodium
and chloride in lakes within that watershed. The new data will allow
scientists to more accurately assess the relationship between the amount
of salt applied to roads and the amount that reaches nearby streams. They
will also evaluate the effects of alternative methods and amounts of road
salt application on stream water quality in other watersheds, which
will help agencies and municipalities select management practices that
reduce the impacts of road salt on aquatic environments in the Basin.
CONSERVATION DISTRICT AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES TACKLE
along unpaved roads is a
source of sediment pollution
rural areas. Photo: PMNRCD.
In the ten years
that the Poultney Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District
(PMNRCD) has worked with municipalities on backroad erosion issues, they
have encountered strong willingness among road crews to tackle water
quality threats. The greatest challenge has been prioritizing problem
areas on the 271 miles of unpaved roads in the watershed. With LCBP
funds, PMNRCD embarked on an effort to pinpoint those sections of road
most in need of attention.
the help of Green Mountain College GIS professor John Van Hoesen, the
District identified a subset of road segments that pose the greatest
threats to water quality in the region, based on length, proximity to
surface water, and slope. PMNRCD staff then conducted field assessments
of each segment, documenting erosion along road sides and near culverts
and assessing condition of culverts. Maps illustrating priorities
identified by the backroads assessment have been provided to municipal
municipalities also agreed that hydroseeders can help stabilize easily
eroded soils exposed during construction work. With their support and
funding from LCBP, VT ANR, and the Vermont Community Foundation, the
District purchased a new hydroseeder to be lent to municipalities. The
equipment, which is housed and maintained by the Town of Castleton, has
already been used for projects in Pawlet and Castleton.
also engaged local communities in stormwater management by developing
rain gardens at Castleton State College and the Poultney Town Offices.
Twelve Upward Bound high school students and Castleton State College
professor Ann Honan helped design and install a medicinal-plant-themed
garden at the college, while Town staff and volunteers helped the
District with the Poultney project. The projects saw immediate use, as
the Castleton garden was completed just one day before a two-hour,
two-inch rain event.
IMPROVES PUBLIC ACCESS TO WINOOSKI RIVER
with local volunteers and the tenth grade class from the Cabot School,
Vermont Rivers Conservancy (VRC) transformed the backyard of the
Plainfield Coop into an official river access to the Winooski River. The
team cleared debris, installed a gravel trail, and constructed two sets
of timber-cribbed access stairs. Students also helped develop a landscape
plan that incorporates a rain garden and interpretive signage.
project, a partnership with the Friends of the Winooski River, is part of
an initiative to develop a formal recreation trail on the Winooski River.
The Winooski River is becoming increasingly popular as a recreation
destination, but many parts of the river lack adequate access. In
addition, many portages around dams and rapids have not been developed or
are in need of revitalization. As part of the LCBP grant, VRC also will
host a meeting of area stakeholders to discuss the formation of a
river-wide partnership focused on establishing the trail.
New stairs will improve access to the
Winooski River. Photo: Noah Pollock.
COMMUNITIES HIGHLIGHT WAR OF 1812, CIVIL WAR
2011 bilingual wayside exhibit for the Battle of Beekmantown
at Culver Hill. Photo: LCBP
wayside exhibits will enhance the War of 1812 interpretive trail launched
by the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) in 2011.
Additional displays will explore the "home front" communities
of the Champlain Valley during the Civil War and the commercial evolution
of communities in the Champlain and Hudson Valleys.
exhibits in Champlain and Beekmantown, New York will complement the
eleven signs developed for the bicentennial of the War of 1812. The
Interpretive Trail highlights the critical role of the war in the
"Making of Nations" -- one of three interpretive themes that
are central to the CVNHP's work in building appreciation and improving
stewardship of the region's natural and cultural resources.
in St. Armand, NY and Manchester, VT explore the effects of the Civil War
on communities that saw significant numbers of men leave to fight, as
well as the role these communities played in supporting the war effort.
The town of Middlebury, VT and Kamp Kill Kare State Park in Vermont will
develop signs that focus on the traditional and modern uses of water in
the commercial and industrial evolution of their communities.
awarded by CVNHP for the displays will include English-French
translation, design assistance, and fabrication of the signs -- an
estimated $1,500 value for each. The interpretive signs will be installed
in Summer 2013.
view the original series of War of 1812 interpretive exhibits, visit the Wayside Exhibit page
on the LCBP website.
more information about the War of 1812 in the Champlain Valley and sites
on the Interpretive Trail, visit www.1812war.org.
GRANTS & RESEARCH RESULTS, BY THE NUMBERS (FALL 2012)
number of trees and shrubs planted along the Dog River and Stevens Branch
by Friends of the Winooski with assistance by the Vermont Youth
Conservation Corps and local students.
feet of streambanks along the Dog River and Stevens Branch treated with
the plantings by Friends of the Winooski.
of previously un-treated impervious area from Flynn Avenue and lower
Oakledge Park in Burlington, VT, now being treated by restored wetlands and
stormwater infrastructure prior to discharge to Lake Champlain at
Linear feet of streams protected by agricultural best
management practices, including livestock exclusion fencing and buffer
plantings, in the South Lake with guidance by the Poultney Mettowee
Miles of unpaved roads in the Poultney-Mettowee watershed assessed for
of sediment entering the Missisquoi River each year as a result of
streambank erosion along the US reaches of the Missisquoi River analysed
in a study Quantifying Sediment
Loadings from Streambank Erosion in Selected Agricultural Watersheds
Draining to Lake Champlain.
IJC FLOODING STUDY WORKGROUP PLAN OF STUDY NEARS COMPLETION
International Lake Champlain-Richelieu River Plan of Study Workgroup is
nearing completion of a revised version of its plan of study for flood
mitigation strategies in the Champlain-Richelieu Valley. In May 2012, the
International Joint Commission (IJC) appointed the workgroup to identify
specific studies that are necessary to evaluate the causes and impacts of
the spring 2011 flooding and to develop appropriate mitigation solutions
group received valuable input on its draft plan during two public meetings
last August and visited sites in Vermont, New York, and Québec that were
affected by the floods of 2011. The workgroup presented a preliminary plan
of study to IJC commissioners in Ottawa, Ontario in
The Plan of Study workgroup inspected facilities damaged
by flooding along
the Richelieu River.
After receiving feedback, the workgroup revised the plan and will release
it for public review in late February 2013.
meetings to discuss the revised plan of study are scheduled tentatively
for the evenings of Monday, March 11 in Burlington, VT and Tuesday, March
12 in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec. More information will follow once
the locations are confirmed. The plan of study will be finalized pending
acceptance by the IJC in May 2013. For more information, please contact
Stephanie Castle, U.S. Co-secretary for the workgroup at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (802) 372-3213, or go the Plan of Study Workgroup
SPEAKER SERIES OFFERS DELICIOUS LINEUP
winter, the LCBP will serve up another generous helping of fascinating
Lake stories, complete with Colleen Hickey's famous desserts. The annual
Love the Lake Series kicks off February 21st.
The Love the
Lake speaker series brings engaging speakers and warm desserts to
Grand Isle on Thursday evenings in February and March.
"Eagle Restoration in the Champlain Region"
John Buck, Wildlife Biologist,
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department
"Montreal: A Fortified City"
Jean Belisle, Professor Emeritus,
Art History Dept.,
"Hunting, Fishing and
Dr. Chuck List, SUNY Plattsburgh
"The 20th Century Camps at Valcour
Roger Harwood, Local History Enthusiast for Valcour
and Crab Island
NEW AND IMPROVED LCBP WEBSITE COMING SOON!
staff have been working with a web development consultant to update
LCBP.org. The new site will be launched before the next e-News, so stay
tuned for a forthcoming announcement.
VERMONT FARM SHOW, JANUARY 29-31
by the LCBP booth at the Vermont Farm Show and
learn about Vermont farmers who are doing good work to improve water
quality in the Basin.
TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITY, FEBRUARY 8
Champlain Basin Education Initiative will host a workshop "Change
Over Time: Exploring the Interwoven Stories of the Burlington
Waterfront" at Main Street Landing from 8:30am to 4pm. For more information,
contact Colleen Hickey at LCBP 802-372-0211. Please see flyer for details.
Main Office in
(802) 372-3213 or
(800) 468-5227 (toll-free in NY & VT)
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.