News Release: Boat Launch Stewards to Greet Lake Champlain Boaters
Grand Isle, VT – “Clean, Drain and Dry.” Boat launch stewards will share this message with boaters at more than a dozen public access sites on Lake Champlain this summer. These stewards will urge boaters to clear their watercraft and equipment of aquatic invasive species in an effort to protect the Lake’s ecosystem, recreation opportunities, and local economies.
2019 will be the fourteenth summer that the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) has operated the boat launch steward program. Stewards greet boaters, inspect their boats for invasive organisms, and share information about the threats they pose. They will be at launches on Lake Champlain in New York, Vermont and Québec from Memorial Day to late September.
The LCBP’s boat launch stewards have greeted nearly a quarter million boaters and intercepted 5,400 invasive species since the program started in 2007. The majority of these organisms have been found on boats leaving Lake Champlain, and could have been carried to other water bodies in the region if not intercepted first.
The LCBP also is launching a new Outreach Steward program this summer. LCBP Outreach Stewards will attend farmers markets, fairs, and other public events to provide information and talk with the public about water quality and healthy ecosystems. Boaters and other members of the public are encouraged to say hello and talk with stewards on the launches and at these events.
Dr. Eric Howe, LCBP Director, said, “These stewards are the LCBP’s front line for interaction with the public. They offer a terrific source of information for citizens about invasive species and other water quality issues, and provide an ear to the ground for the LCBP to hear concerns and gather local knowledge of issues and opportunities.”
The steward program is supported with funding provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC), and allocated by the Lake Champlain Steering Committee.
Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, whose support was essential in securing the funds for the programs, commented, “Once an invasive species is established it can be impossible to remove, and can change the lake forever. I am proud that the Lake Champlain Basin Program is leading the way, from the Adirondacks in New York and all around Lake Champlain in Vermont, to keep these invaders from getting into our lakes in the first place.”
“EPA strongly supports the public education efforts of the Lake Champlain Basin Program and ongoing outreach efforts to partner with the lake community,” said EPA Region 2 Administrator Pete Lopez. “The start of the summer season is the ideal time to remind boaters, and everyone who enjoys the lake, how they can help reduce the devastating introduction of aquatic invasive species. Introducing non-native species to the lake can damage the sensitive ecosystem and cause environmental harm. If we all do our part, the lake will be healthier for all to enjoy.”
“As summer recreation ramps up on Lake Champlain, it’s important to keep in mind all of the work that has been done to improve water quality, and how lake users can help to protect the Lake,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. “EPA’s funding for the Lake Champlain Basin Program has been put to good use supporting programs like the Boat Launch Steward and Boat Wash programs to help stop the spread of invasive species. We applaud these efforts.”
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of New York, who worked to secure support for Lake Champlain in the House appropriations process, said, “The stewards of the Lake Champlain Basin Program are critical to the program’s efforts to protect this North Country treasure from invasive species, maintain its biodiversity, and strengthen our local economy. During this Memorial Day Weekend launch of their 14th season of the Boat Launch Steward program, I recognize all of the stewards for their dedication to educating the public about the importance of preserving the beauty of Lake Champlain.”
Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont also worked to ensure funding for Lake Champlain. Congressman Welch commented, “The introduction of aquatic invasive species is one of Lake Champlain’s greatest management challenges. The LCBP’s boat launch steward program plays a critical role in preventing the introduction of destructive species to our treasured lake. I am pleased to support this effort to protect healthy ecosystems in Lake Champlain.”
For more information about the steward programs or to request LCBP participation at an event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) coordinates and funds efforts that benefit the Lake Champlain Basin’s water quality, fisheries, wetlands, wildlife, recreation, and cultural resources. The Program works in partnership with federal agencies, state and provincial agencies, local communities, businesses, and citizens groups. The New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission manages financial and administrative functions on behalf of the LCBP. For more information, contact the Lake Champlain Basin Program, 54 West Shore Road, Grand Isle, VT at (802) 372-3213/ (800) 468-5227 or www.lcbp.org.
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