Lake Champlain Steering Committee Awards $7.7 Million for Clean Water and Healthy Ecosystems Work

Grand Isle, VT – The Patrick Leahy Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) recently bolstered efforts to improve water quality and ecosystem health in and around Lake Champlain with more than $7.7 million in grants for new projects. 

Local watershed organizations, municipalities, and conservation districts in New York, Québec, and Vermont will use the money for more than 140 projects that help to reduce runoff, restore habitat, and prevent the spread of harmful invasive species.  

Many of the projects will educate residents and visitors about the Lake and involve communities in cleanup efforts. Volunteer work worth another $319,000 is a key part of many projects and will amplify the impact of the LCBP funds. Volunteer efforts supplement the estimated 78,000 hours—or about 38 work years—of organizational staff and professional service time directly supported by the grants. 

Nearly two-thirds of the projects will be in or directly benefit communities with disadvantages in the Lake Champlain Basin. These projects received $5.8 million, amounting to 75 percent of total awarded funds. This allocation of funding exceeds the goals of Justice40, a federal initiative directing 40 percent of the benefits of federal investment to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. 

Dr. Eric Howe, NEIWPCC Program Director of the Lake Champlain Basin Program, said, “We’re excited to see these projects get started. An immense amount of volunteer time reflects the public’s commitment to the Lake and will demonstrate the vital role of local communities in our progress toward a clean, healthy lake.” 

“Lake Champlain is one of Vermont’s most treasured natural resources, and we must do everything we can to protect it,” said Senator Sanders. “For the past 30 years, the Lake Champlain Basin Program has preserved and enhanced the natural and cultural resources that are a huge part of what makes the Champlain Valley such an important part of our community. I look forward to seeing the good work this funding will do for current and future generations.” 

“Local communities are on the frontlines of efforts to conserve Lake Champlain, dedicating thousands of hours in service of lake cleanup and preservation,” said Senator Welch. “These projects will build on Vermonters’ years of hard work and commitment to supporting a cleaner, healthier lake, and will be crucial to preserving this valuable resource for future generations.”  

Representative Balint said, “Clean water systems are vital to the health of our communities. I’m so proud to support millions in federal funding to invest in the Lake Champlain Basin. With 40% of this investment going toward the most underserved surrounding communities, this project will be transformational for the health and future of the basin.”  

“A healthy Lake Champlain is a priority for EPA, as the lake is a drinking water source for nearly 165,000 people in its watershed, in addition to providing many jobs and recreational opportunities,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. “We are especially encouraged that this year, nearly two-thirds of these projects overseen by the Lake Champlain Basin Program will support underserved communities across the watershed. We are proud to be a partner supporting this important work in communities where people live, work, and play.” 

“Lake Champlain is a national jewel that deserves continued protection,” said EPA Region 2 Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “This funding can help make real improvements for lake communities, especially for underserved communities. The projects will also have positive impacts in New York by investing in critical work to restore and protect the quality of lake water and its ecosystems.” 

Marc Gaden, Executive Secretary of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission said, “I thank the Lake Champlain Basin Program for helping us to deliver federal assistance for ecosystem protection and restoration in both New York and Vermont. I am proud that the Commission achieves such a wide-ranging positive impact by working with the Basin Program.” 

Susan Sullivan, NEIWPCC Executive Director, said “NEIWPCC continues to be committed to working with its partners to improve water quality in Lake Champlain. The goal is to restore this natural resource for everyone’s benefit.” 

The 142 grants awarded in 2023 will support projects across many categories. Upcoming projects include: 

  • Clean Water – Vermont River Conservancy will build a fully accessible park, including brownfields cleanup and drainage improvements, in downtown Montpelier. The park will create new opportunities for people to connect with local waterways. 
    Clean Water Grants Awarded: 19 | Total Funding: $1,832,824 | Staff Hours Funded: 6,000 | Planned Volunteer Hours: 492 
  • Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Spread Prevention – Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute will work to reduce the spread of AIS through boater education and watercraft inspection services throughout the Adirondack region.  
    AIS Grants Awarded: 16 | Total Funding: $368,357 | Staff Hours Funded: 8,484 | Planned Volunteer Hours: 462 
  • Healthy EcosystemsOrganisme de basin versant de la baie Missisquoi (OBVBM) will protect wood turtle habitat in the Pike River watershed.  
    Healthy Ecosystems Grants Awarded: 6 | Total Funding: $546,916 | Staff Hours Funded: 6,600 | Planned Volunteer Hours: 1,085 
  • Stream Wise – Greensboro Association will offer Stream Wise assessments and technical assistance to homeowners in Vermont’s Upper Lamoille Watershed.  
    Stream Wise Grants Awarded: 11 | Total Funding: $148,352 | Staff Hours Funded: 2,469 | Planned Volunteer Hours: 351 
  • Small Education and Outreach – Northern Forest Canoe Trail will engage students and volunteers in flood cleanup and restoration along Lake Champlain and the Saranac, Lamoille, and Missisquoi Rivers.
    Small Education & Outreach Grants Awarded: 21 | Total Funding: $298,539 | Staff Hours Funded: 5,495 | Planned Volunteer Hours: 1,364 
  • Large Education and Outreach – AdkAction will expand their Clean Water, Safe Roads outreach program, aimed at reducing road salt pollution to local waterways. 
    Large Education & Outreach Grants Awarded: 17 | Total Funding: $650,958 | Staff Hours Funded: 9,103 | Planned Volunteer Hours: 2,485 
  • Cultural Heritage – The Wild Center will run programming engaging youth for climate action in the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Network. 
    Cultural Heritage Grants Awarded: 19 | Total Funding: $406,893 | Staff Hours Funded: 6,491 | Planned Volunteer Hours: 1,108 
  • Research and Technical Grants – University of Vermont researchers will study the effect of warming winters on nutrient export to Lake Champlain across multiple land use categories. 
    Research and Technical Grants Awarded: 13 | Total Funding: $2,781,717 | Staff Hours Funded: 21,712 | Planned Volunteer Hours: N/A  
  • Organizational Support and Workforce Development – Ausable River Association will use funding to build organizational capacity to engage diverse communities in freshwater stewardship. 
    Organizational Support Grants Awarded: 20 | Total Funding: $688,242 | Staff Hours Funded: 11,695 | Planned Volunteer Hours: 2,419 

The full list of grants awarded in 2023, along with general metrics is available on the LCBP website.

The awarded grants will support projects that advance the goals of the long-term Lake Champlain management plan Opportunities for Action( These grants are supported with funds awarded to NEIWPCC on behalf of the Patrick Leahy Lake Champlain Basin Program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and the National Park Service. Additional work supported with funding from the U.S. EPA via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) will be published separately. More information on BIL grants may be found here

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

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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, finances, and contracts. NEIWPCC is a program partner of LCBP. 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 

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