NOTE: The 2021 State of the Lake and Ecosystem Indicators report is now posted on-line: www.lcbp.org/sol2021
Grand Isle, VT – The Lake Champlain Basin Program released the 2021 Lake Champlain State of the Lake and Ecosystem Indicators Report today. The report provides an assessment of the condition of Lake Champlain using a series of ecosystem indicators. The document is produced every three years with input from New York, Québec and Vermont scientists and field experts. The report provides resource managers and the public with a better understanding of threats to the Lake’s health, as well as opportunities to meet the challenges ahead.
“LCBP uses the best scientific data available to interpret information about the Lake,” said Dr. Eric Howe, Director of the Lake Champlain Basin Program. “In the 2021 report, we provide new details about Lake Champlain’s water quality and the fishery. The battle against aquatic invasive species, the public benefits associated with conserved lands, and the need to have more stewards embedded in the landscape also are important. Lake managers use this information to develop and assess strategies for improving water quality in Lake Champlain.”
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, who works to fund the Basin Program each year, said: “The release of a new State of the Lake Report is always greatly anticipated by lake advocates, public officials, legislators, and the news media. It is the ‘go-to’ source of information about Lake Champlain for me, for my staff, and for everyone who works for a cleaner, better lake.”
The 2021 report reflects on the status of Lake Champlain in relation to meeting Clean Water Act goals of being drinkable, fishable, and swimmable. By examining the health of the ecosystem, scientists and local communities can use this information to improve plans to create a stronger stewardship ethic which helps local economies thrive over time. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proud to support the work of the Lake Champlain Basin Program. EPA remains committed to working on this multi-state partnership to realize a cleaner and healthier Lake Champlain Basin. Together we’ve made good progress, even as work needs to continue. A healthy and thriving Lake Champlain is vital to residents, communities, and the economy in this iconic basin,” said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro.
Community engagement and recreation opportunities help stakeholders connect with the Lake, and drive their sense of stewardship. For example, the State of the Lake Report summarizes that more than 93,000 watercraft were greeted by boat launch stewards from the Lake Champlain Basin Program and the Adirondack Watershed Institute on Lake Champlain between 2018-2020. Of those, 60% of public launch users reported that they now take personal action to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species. Even more watercraft users need to step up and remain vigilant about properly decontaminating their gear every time they leave a lake or river. Many species can be transported to and from Lake Champlain easily, potentially wreaking havoc with biodiversity and food webs at every new location they invade.
“EPA is encouraged that this year’s ‘state of the lake’ report shows progress by our partners across the Lake Champlain Basin in reducing the amount of phosphorus entering the lake and addressing invasive species, like water chestnut and zebra mussels,” said EPA Region 2 acting Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan. “The funding and technical support that EPA provides to partners here in New York exemplifies our commitment to protect and restore Lake Champlain for the many communities and species that depend on the Lake.”
The Lake Champlain Basin Program and its partners will begin to share this important work this summer, including distributing key data to underserved communities and with our neighbors in Québec. The document will be accessible in French on-line this summer.
“Lake Champlain is an important part of our natural heritage; it is at the heart of the social, economic and cultural life of the citizens of Québec, Vermont and New York,” said Marie-Claude Francoeur, Québec Delegate to New England. The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) is an example of our cross-border collaboration in the management of our shared watersheds for an integrated management of water resources. Québec thanks the LCBP for providing vital information on the state of Lake Champlain, allowing us to precisely assess our ongoing efforts to protect this majestic lake for the benefit of our population.”
Community members complete boots-on-the-ground projects which municipalities, conservation districts, local watershed groups, and others undertake to improve water quality and habitat while preparing for climate change and flood hazards in the future. By working in partnership with federal, state, and provincial partners, more than 100 local projects designed to improve water quality and ecosystem health are implemented around the Basin with LCBP funds every year.
The importance of conserved lands and the role they play in protecting water quality and habitat, while fostering outdoor recreation opportunities, and providing flood mitigation is highlighted in the 2021 State of the Lake Report as well. “Vermont is fortunate to have one of the largest, most stunning lakes in the United States running along much of the western edge of our state,” said Julie Moore, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. “Lake Champlain is a defining feature of our region in so many ways – through tourism, boating, swimming, transportation, sport fishing and as the drinking water source for hundreds of thousands of local residents. When it comes to caring for the Lake, the 2021 State of the Lake Report is one of our most valuable tools, compiling and sharing the progress made and outlining the work that lies ahead.”
The report, while showing some areas of improvement, acknowledges that there still is more work to do. The region shares goals to reduce the spread of invasive species, improve the habitat of Atlantic salmon and other species through dam removal and river restoration, reduce the sea lamprey population, and decrease phosphorus contributions which help drive cyanobacteria blooms and impact recreational use of the Lake. So too is the strength of local cultural and natural heritage institutions which drive messaging about these issues while supporting the regional tourism economies.
“For more than three decades, DEC and the Lake Champlain Basin Program have worked together to address water quality and environmental challenges facing Lake Champlain,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. “I join the Lake Champlain Basin Program in celebrating the successes noted in the most recent State of the Lake report, acknowledge the challenges we still face, and look forward to working side-by-side to protect and enhance the environmental integrity of the Lake Champlain Basin.”
When stewardship actions are taken at home by the nearly 600,000 people who live in the Champlain basin, progress can be made. The “What You Can Do” tips in this report provide easy and low-cost opportunities that residents and visitors can take to improve the Lake. With more than 14,000 miles of streams and rivers delivering more than 2 trillion gallons of water to Lake Champlain each year, improving Lake Champlain also means looking to the upper elevations of the Basin. Landowners and communities across the Basin must slow the water and sink it into the landscape before it carries sediment and pollution to lakes and rivers.
“The 2021 State of the Lake and Ecosystem Indicators Report provides a unique view of the conditions of Lake Champlain and its watershed, the successes our staff and partners have achieved, and the ongoing challenges we collectively face,” said Susan Sullivan, Executive Director of NEIWPCC. “NEIWPCC is proud to support development and access to the science that underpins the report and the ongoing work to communicate and engage with the communities in the Lake Champlain Basin.”
2021 State of the Lake Report: Clean Water
2021 State of the Lake Report: Healthy Ecosystems
2021 State of the Lake Report: Thriving Communities
2021 State of the Lake Report: Informed and Involved Public
The public is encouraged to request a free copy of the report by completing this form or by calling the Lake Champlain Basin Program at (802) 372-3213. Hardcopies of the 2021 State of the Lake report will be available by late July 2021, and an electronic version may be found at www.lcbp.org/sol2021. If you would like more information about this report, please call Dr. Eric Howe, LCBP Director, at 802 372-3213 or email email@example.com.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program 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 from New York, Vermont, and Québec, local communities, businesses, and citizen groups. NEIWPCC—a regional commission that helps the states of the Northeast preserve and advance water quality—serves as the primary program administrator of LCBP at the request of the Lake Champlain Steering Committee, and administers the program’s personnel and finances. LCBP is a program partner of NEIWPCC. For further information, contact the Lake Champlain Basin Program, 54 West Shore Road, Grand Isle, VT at (802) 372-3213 / (800) 468-5227 or visit www.lcbp.org.