The Lake Champlain Basin, stretching from the peaks of the Adirondacks to the Green Mountains and north into Québec, is renowned as one of North America’s most beautiful and valued resources. Residents and visitors alike enjoy Lake Champlain for swimming, drinking, fishing, and recreation. At 120 miles (193 km) long and more than 400 feet (122 m) deep, the Lake supports a complex freshwater ecosystem with diverse plant and animal species. The biological riches of the Basin, unparalleled beauty of the mountains, historic resources, agricultural landscapes, small towns and villages, and rivers that flow into the magnificent Lake provide experiences and opportunities unique to the region. Although the benefits of healthy resources are difficult to quantify, well-functioning ecosystems support a rich economy for fishing, swimming, agriculture, and forestry.  

While Lake Champlain remains a vibrant lake with many assets, several serious environmental problems demand action. High phosphorus levels, harmful algae blooms (HABs), toxic substances and pathogens, and aquatic invasive species continue to threaten the Lake ecosystem and inhibit the human use and enjoyment of Lake Champlain. Natural resources, such as fish, wildlife, and plants, are threatened by invasive species, wetland loss, habitat degradation and fragmentation, and diminished water quality. Other issues that face the Lake Champlain Basin include changes in hydrology, habitat and biodiversity, climate, impacts from continued land-use changes and habitat fragmentation, public access to the Lake, recreational user conflicts, and loss of cultural resources.  

Improvements in wastewater management and sewage treatment (point sources) have greatly reduced the contamination of beaches and shorelines and continue to ensure that drinking water supplies in all parts of the Lake are safe. Partners continue to work together to address nutrient pollution from nonpoint sources that come from our interaction with urban, agricultural, and forested landscapes to Lake Champlain. Many challenges exist to protect the watershed’s ecosystem functions so that it is best prepared to adapt to continuing climate change and the impacts of society.  

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On November 5, 1990, the Lake Champlain Special Designation Act was signed into law. Sponsored by Senators Leahy and Jeffords from Vermont and Senators Moynihan and D’Amato from New York, this legislation designated Lake Champlain as a resource of national significance. The goal of the Act was to bring together people with diverse interests to create a comprehensive plan for protecting the future of Lake Champlain and its surrounding watershed. The Act specifically required examination of water quality, fisheries, wetlands, wildlife, recreational, and cultural resource issues. The challenge had been both to identify problems requiring management action and to chart an integrated plan for the future of the Lake Champlain Basin. The Special Designation Act created the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP), a non-regulatory partnership among the States of New York and Vermont, the Province of Québec, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), other federal and local government agencies, and many public and private local groups.  

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The LCBP coordinates and funds efforts to benefit the Lake Champlain Basin’s water quality, fisheries, wetlands, wildlife, recreation, and cultural resources, in partnership with government agencies from New York, Vermont, and Québec, private organizations, local communities, and individuals. 

The LCBP maintains inclusive partnerships that empower diverse communities to take action toward improving and protecting the natural resources and the cultural heritage of the Lake Champlain Basin. 

The LCBP envisions rich natural resources and cultural heritage of the Lake Champlain Basin that are stewarded by a diverse, inclusive, informed, and engaged community working together for the common good of Lake Champlain for current and future generations.  

Lake Champlain is an enormous resource requiring special care and stewardship.This comprehensive management plan, Opportunities for Action: An Evolving Plan for the Future of the Lake Champlain Basin (OFA), is a coordinated effort to inform, guide, and assist essential stewardship efforts for the watershed.  

Role and Structure

As a partnership of provincial, state, and U.S. federal agencies, the LCBP brings cross-boundary and multidisciplinary leadership experience to coordinating and implementing OFA. The LCBP works cooperatively with many partners to protect and enhance the environmental integrity and the social and economic benefits of the Lake Champlain Basin. The LCBP is administered jointly by several agencies: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Regions 1 and 2), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Québec Ministry of Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, and NEIWPCC.  

Lake Champlain Steering Committee membership from New York, Québec, and Vermont reflects each jurisdiction’s commitment to the 2015 Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Cooperation on the Management of Lake Champlain among The State of New York, The State of Vermont and the Government of Québec (Appendix V). It is this MOU that also describes the role, goals, and eligible membership of the Lake Champlain Steering Committee (Appendix IV) and will be updated in 2022. U.S. federal agency participation in the Lake Champlain Steering Committee, codified in OFA, reflects the federal commitments established in the Special Designation Act of 1990 and the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Lake Champlain Basin Program Act of 2002, which have enabled substantial U.S. federal funds to be appropriated to support the work of the LCBP. These funds are made available to the LCBP to support operations and tasks that are consistent with the federal authorizations. See Appendix I for more information about the LCBP Operating Structure, Committees (including Committee representation), and Staffing. 

Funding for the LCBP

The Lake Champlain Basin Program historically has been appropriated funding by the U.S. government through the Environmental Protection Agency. More recently, the LCBP also has been supported with appropriations from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the National Park Service. The LCBP also occasionally receives awards from other government entities, such as the International Joint Commission to conduct specific projects. During the past two decades, the LCBP has sponsored a great variety of programs supported by these different sources of funding, including research, monitoring, and grants to regional organizations to promote water quality programs and install projects to improve water quality. As of Federal Fiscal Year 2021, nearly $105 million had been appropriated to support the general priorities identified in OFA. The LCBP has provided more than $20 million to support over 1,600 grants awarded to more than 600 local recipients to reduce pollution in the Lake, educate and involve the public, and gather and share information about Lake issues. The LCBP also has funded education, planning, demonstration, control, research, and monitoring projects to restore and protect water quality and the diverse natural and cultural resources of the Lake Champlain Basin. In FFY18, funding dedicated to the implementation of the 2016 phosphorus TMDLs for Lake Champlain was established; as of FFY21, nearly $23 million in EPA – LCBP Section 120 funds have supported this specific initiative, in addition to the $105 million noted above.  

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 is intended to be a once-in-a-generation investment in the infrastructure and communities of the United States. This bill created an opportunity to expand access to clean drinking water; to tackle the climate crisis and advance environmental justice, while investing in communities – both urban and rural – that have too often been left behind. The bill also emphasizes the importance of directing funds toward traditionally underserved communities. This bill identified $40 million to support the Lake Champlain Basin Program, to prioritize projects that address ecosystem and wetland restoration, stormwater treatment and control, nature-based infrastructure, community resilience, resilient shorelines, and environmental education. The LCBP will receive up to $8 million per year to address these priorities for Federal Fiscal Years 2022-2027, coincidental with the timeframe of this new OFA management plan.  

The Lake Champlain Special Designation Act (Section 120 of the Clean Water Act) was reauthorized in 2002 with the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Lake Champlain Basin Program Act, authorizing expenditures of up to $11 million per year to accomplish this goal. Annual appropriations through the EPA have averaged over $10 million since 2017. This money supports numerous LCBP programs and Lake Champlain Steering Committee priorities each fiscal year, with particular focus on supporting efforts to reduce phosphorus pollution to the Lake and to reduce the occurrence of harmful algal blooms. 

In addition to the funding appropriated to the LCBP through Section 120 of the Clean Water Act, the LCBP also receives support from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC). The GLFC was established by the 1954 Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries to encourage cross-border collaborative management efforts to restore the fisheries of the Great Lakes, particularly for management of sea lamprey. The recognition of sea lamprey as a nuisance species in Lake Champlain opened an avenue for funding through the GLFC to support fisheries and water quality restoration work in Lake Champlain. The GLFC, the LCBP, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Native Species and Habitat Restoration and Water Quality Improvements in 2010. Up to $9 million has been recently appropriated via the GLFC toward Lake Champlain work annually, a reflection of Senator Leahy’s commitment to improving the Lake Champlain ecosystem. Of this annual appropriation, approximately $0.6 – $2 million has been available annually to the LCBP to support watershed restoration work in Lake Champlain, with the balance directed toward sea lamprey management, fisheries research, and other habitat restoration work conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and researchers at the University of Vermont.  

The Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) was established in 2006 as a part of the National Heritage Area (NHA) programs to recognize the importance of the historical, cultural, and recreational resources of the region and to assist efforts to preserve, protect, and interpret those resources. The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) is the managing entity of the CVNHP. The LCBP coordinates its work with its official liaison to the National Park Service (NPS), the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (MBRNHP) located in Woodstock, Vermont. The purpose of the NHA also is to enhance the quality of the tourism economy and to encourage working partnerships among state, provincial, and local governments and nonprofit organizations in New York, Québec, and Vermont. As a NHA with an approved management plan, the CVNHP is authorized to receive up to $1 million annually and has recently been appropriated up to $400,000 from the National Park Service (NPS). These funds are allocated annually from the U.S. Department of Interior budget, which is determined by the U.S. Congress.  

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Opportunities for Action is a plan developed for managing the Lake Champlain watershed. To that end, it is designed as a tool for the Lake Champlain Steering Committee. Section 120 of the Clean Water Act mandates that the Lake Champlain management plan is required to be updated at least every five years, and the priorities contained within the Plan characterize the eligibility of projects and programs to be supported with resources directed to Lake Champlain through Section 120 each federal fiscal cycle. This resource is to be used as a strategic planning guide, to inform management decisions over the next several years. New in 2022, the Lake Champlain Steering Committee also will develop a guide to map out annual budget priorities using the Objectives and Strategies identified in the Plan, through an OFA Implementation Plan. This Implementation Plan will be developed following approval of Opportunities for Action.  

The broader community of governments, organizations, watershed groups, academic institutions, and other lake user groups can use OFA to follow the priorities of the Lake Champlain Steering Committee, to use as a guide for targeting their own programs, and to identify priorities within their own specific management plans that align with those of the Lake Champlain Steering Committee. The Lake Champlain Steering Committee is a board comprised of a broad spectrum of representatives of government agencies and the chairpersons of advisory groups representing citizen lake users, scientists, and educators. The Lake Champlain Steering Committee approves the guiding priorities identified in this Plan and authorizes the use of appropriated funds to achieve these priorities. For more information about the Lake Champlain Steering Committee, please refer to the “Lake Champlain Basin Program Role and Structure” section of the Plan.  

All stakeholders within the Lake Champlain watershed wish to have a clean lake. Interpretations of “clean” may vary, but people generally want a lake that is suitable for recreation, provides a clean source of drinking water that is safe and reliable, and contains fish that are safe to eat. The stakeholders of the Lake Champlain watershed are not unique in this regard, and neither are the management issues that need to be addressed. Harmful algal blooms are a global issue, as are toxin levels within sportfish, conservation of threatened and vulnerable species, and the impacts of climate change. Invasive species can drastically alter lake ecosystems, often to the detriment of recreation and the economy, and occasionally public health. Changes in climate patterns affect the lake ecosystem, reducing ice cover and lengthening the biologically productive season of the Lake. This increases the prevalence of cyanobacteria blooms, improves conditions for some species, and reduces the quality of the ecosystem for others. The broader themes of this Plan address some of these “aspirational goals” by reducing the frequency and toxicity of harmful algal blooms, reducing the impact of invasive species and eliminating pathways for new invasions, and restoring native species, such as lake trout and Atlantic salmon.  

Opportunities for Action 2022 identifies a suite of task areas to address these concerns. These are largely built from the task areas identified in the 2017 plan, but also reflect a prioritization effort held in June 2021 in which stakeholders engaged in LCBP committees worked together to identify high priority task areas for the 2022 plan. The 2022 plan outlines priority goals, objectives, and strategies for the LCBP. Sound science is critical to these efforts, and it forms the basis of the work described in this Plan. Long-term monitoring of the Lake Champlain ecosystem’s health is the foundation of this scientific approach and is critical for conducting research and measuring the successes or weaknesses of the Plan.  

The jurisdictions governing the Lake Champlain Basin—the governments of Québec, New York, Vermont, and U.S. federal agencies—have specific statutory requirements to establish and to achieve water quality standards. They also can raise revenue and enforce laws that accomplish these responsibilities. For example, the achievement of numeric phosphorus load reductions (TMDLs) to achieve in-lake concentration standards are established as jurisdictional obligations in Vermont and New York. The LCBP’s congressional authorizations provide a mechanism for the LCBP to serve an important role in supporting the goals of the States to meet the numeric standards identified in the phosphorus TMDLs for Lake Champlain and to facilitate collaboration among the many agencies responsible for meeting common goals. Several inter-jurisdictional agreements advancing the stewardship of the Lake Champlain watershed have been facilitated by the LCBP, resulting in a robust culture of cross-boundary collaboration.  

As the latest revision of this restoration plan has developed, particular care has been taken to acknowledge and support, but not to duplicate, the actions detailed in other existing management plans, such as the Phosphorus TMDLs for Vermont Segments of Lake Champlain (2016), the Vermont Lake Champlain Phosphorus TMDL Phase I Implementation Plan (2016), the Lake Champlain Basin Rapid Response Action Plan for Aquatic Invasive Species (2009), and other important stand-alone planning documents.  

Sound science and targeted management efforts alone will not achieve these broad aspirational goals. The resources available to achieve these goals are limited. A clean lake and healthy watershed will require more than what the LCBP and its partners can bring to the table. Broad changes in the way society relates to the Lake—as communities, as businesses, and as individuals working and living within the Lake Champlain watershed—will be required. Fundamental shifts in the way we think each day about the water that runs off our rooftops, driveways, lawns, fields, and our forests, where that runoff goes, and what it carries with it will be critical if we are to achieve these aspirational goals in the long-term. If we each take actions to reduce our contribution to runoff and nutrient pollution, we can work collectively toward a healthy and resilient lake ecosystem. We need to consider how our educational system teaches students about their individual and collective impacts on the Lake, with emphasis on water conservation, quality, and management through individual actions. As a culture, we must think carefully about how we prioritize and fund programs that benefit the Lake, and how these programs can be sustained.  

For this reason, Plan implementation must involve the public and build local support through nongovernmental organizations and municipalities. Implementation must also be paired with efforts to educate the public, elected officials, and interest groups about the science behind Lake issues to ensure these groups are informed during policy development and funding decision processes.  

Many cooperating agencies, organizations, and individuals have contributed their time and expertise to producing a comprehensive pollution prevention, control, and restoration plan that efficiently guides the allocation of LCBP resources. The Lake Champlain Steering Committee strives to allocate funds annually to support high priority tasks of Basin-wide importance:   

  • long-term monitoring of water resources   
  • local plan implementation and educational program grants   
  • direct pollution prevention projects   
  • targeted environmental research   
  • interpretation & presentation of objective science to inform resource managers, the public, and policy makers  
  • numerous educational programs including substantial LCBP website resources and operation of the LCBP Resource Room at ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain   
  • operational assistance to watershed organizations   
  • heritage and recreational programs consistent with the goals of the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership Management Plan  

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Perspectives d’action est un plan élaboré pour la gestion intégrée du bassin hydrographique du lac Champlain. À cet effet, le plan est conçu comme un outil de gestion pour le Comité directeur du lac Champlain. La Section 120 du Clean Water Act (Loi sur la qualité de l’eau) exige que le plan de gestion du lac Champlain soit mis à jour au minimum tous les cinq ans et que les priorités établies dans le cadre du plan caractérisent les conditions d’admissibilité des projets et des programmes soutenus par les ressources accordées au lac Champlain en vertu de la Section 120 à chaque cycle fiscal fédéral. Ce plan doit être utilisé comme un guide de planification stratégique et une source d’information pour les orientations de gestion du comité pour les années à venir. Une nouveauté en 2022, le Comité directeur du lac Champlain élaborera également un guide pour l’établissement des priorités budgétaires annuelles s’appuyant sur les objectifs et stratégies définis dans le Plan, sous la forme d’un plan de mise en œuvre de Perspectives d’action (PDA). Ce plan de mise en œuvre sera élaboré suite à l’approbation de PDA.

L’ensemble des représentants des divers paliers gouvernementaux, des organisations de bassins versants, des universités et d’autres groupes peut aussi utiliser PDA pour suivre les priorités du Comité directeur du lac Champlain et comme référence pour identifier leurs priorités d’interventions afin qu’elles s’harmonisent avec celles du Comité directeur du lac Champlain. Le Comité directeur du lac Champlain est un conseil réunissant un large éventail de représentants d’instances gouvernementales et les présidents de groupes consultatifs qui représentent des citoyens utilisateurs du lac, des chercheurs et des éducateurs. Le Comité directeur du lac Champlain approuve les priorités générales identifiées dans ce plan et autorise l’utilisation de fonds appropriés en vue de réaliser ces priorités. Pour plus de renseignements sur le Comité directeur du lac Champlain, veuillez vous reporter à la section « Lake Champlain Basin Program Role and Structure » (Rôle et structure du Programme de mise en valeur du lac Champlain). 

Tous les intervenants et les citoyens du bassin versant du lac Champlain souhaitent avoir un lac avec de l’eau propre. L’interprétation de « propre » peut varier, mais dans l’ensemble les gens veulent avoir un lac qui est non pollué pour fournir une source d’eau potable sécuritaire et fiable, pour avoir des poissons non contaminés et pour leurs loisirs. Les citoyens du bassin versant du lac Champlain ne sont pas uniques à cet égard, pas plus que les problèmes de gestion qui doivent être abordés. La prolifération de cyanobactéries est une problématique mondiale, tout comme les niveaux de toxines dans les poissons de pêche récréative, la protection des espèces menacées et vulnérables et les effets du changement climatique. Les espèces envahissantes altèrent gravement les écosystèmes lacustres souvent au détriment des loisirs, de l’économie et parfois même de la santé publique. Les changements climatiques affectent l’écosystème du lac en réduisant la couverture de glace et en prolongeant la période de productivité biologique du lac. Les conséquences sont notamment une prévalence accrue des proliférations de cyanobactéries et des conditions plus favorables pour certaines espèces au détriment d’autres espèces. Les thèmes généraux de ce plan visent certains de ces « objectifs ambitieux », notamment la réduction de la fréquence et de la toxicité des efflorescences d’algues nuisibles, la réduction de l’impact des espèces exotiques envahissantes en éliminant leurs voies de migration et la restauration des espèces indigènes comme le touladi et le saumon atlantique. 

Perspectives d’action 2022 identifie une série de tâches pour répondre à ces préoccupations. Celles-ci découlent en grande partie des domaines d’action définis dans le plan de 2017, mais reflètent également les conclusions d’un groupe de travail réuni en juin 2021 où des membres de comités du LCBP se sont attachés à identifier des tâches prioritaires pour le plan 2022. Le plan 2022 décrit les buts, objectifs et stratégies prioritaires pour le LCBP. Un fondement scientifique est essentiel à ces efforts et constitue la base du travail décrit dans ce plan. Le suivi à long terme de la santé de l’écosystème du lac Champlain est le fondement de cette approche scientifique et est essentiel pour mener des recherches et mesurer les succès ou les faiblesses du plan. 

Les juridictions du bassin du lac Champlain—les gouvernements du Québec, de New York et du Vermont et les organismes fédéraux américains—ont des exigences légales spécifiques pour établir et atteindre les normes de qualité de l’eau. Elles peuvent également générer les revenus et veiller à l’application des lois à cet effet. Par exemple, la réalisation des objectifs de réduction des charges de phosphore pour satisfaire les normes de concentration dans le lac est définie comme étant une obligation juridique au Vermont et à New York. Le Congrès Américain a habilité le LCBP à assumer un rôle d’important de soutien des États dans la réalisation des objectifs quantitatifs de charge quotidienne maximale totale (TMDL) de phosphore dans le lac Champlain et d’assistance pour faciliter la collaboration entre les nombreux organismes partageant des buts communs. Le LCBP a facilité la signature de plusieurs accords multipartites sur la gestion du bassin versant du lac Champlain, résultant en une solide culture de collaboration transfrontalière. 

L’élaboration de cette nouvelle version du plan de réhabilitation a accordé un soin particulier à reconnaître et à soutenir, mais sans les répéter, les mesures détaillées dans d’autres plans de gestion existants, tels que Phosphorus TMDLs for Vermont Segments of Lake Champlain (2016),  Vermont Lake Champlain Phosphorus TMDL Phase I Implementation Plan (2016), Lake Champlain Basin Rapid Response Action Plan for Aquatic Invasive Species (2009), et d’autres documents de planification stratégique 

Une approche scientifique solide et des efforts de gestion ciblés seuls ne permettront pas d’atteindre ces grands objectifs ambitieux dans un contexte de ressources limitées. L’atteinte de ces objectifs nécessitera des efforts au-delà de la contribution que peuvent apporter le LCBP et ses partenaires. Elle nécessitera d’importants changements sociétaux notamment dans la manière dont nous pensons et agissons en tant que collectivités, entreprises et personnes qui œuvrent et vivent dans le bassin versant du lac Champlain. La façon dont nous agissons et pensons quotidiennement à l’eau qui ruisselle de nos toits, nos allées, nos pelouses, nos champs et nos forêts sera critique si nous voulons atteindre ces objectifs ambitieux à long terme. Si chaque citoyen du bassin versant peut faire un geste pour réduire la pollution, cela permettra d’améliorer collectivement la qualité de l’eau et l’écosystème du lac Champlain. Nous devons aussi revoir la façon dont notre système d’enseignement sensibilise aux questions d’impacts individuels et collectifs sur le lac en mettant l’accent sur la conservation, la qualité et la gestion de l’eau par des actions individuelles. En tant que culture, nous devons réfléchir attentivement à la façon dont nous privilégions et finançons les programmes qui profitent au lac et la façon dont ces programmes peuvent être soutenus. 

Pour cette raison, la mise en œuvre du plan doit impliquer le public et créer un soutien local par le biais d’organisations non gouvernementales et de municipalités. La mise en œuvre doit également fournir un moyen d’éduquer le public, les élus et les groupes d’intérêt sur une base scientifique afin de s’assurer que ces groupes sont correctement informés lors de l’élaboration des politiques et des processus de décision de financement. 

De nombreuses personnes, organisations et agences ont contribué de leur temps et leur expertise à produire un plan complet de prévention, de contrôle de la pollution et de restauration qui oriente efficacement l’allocation des ressources du LCBP. Le Comité directeur du lac Champlain s’efforce d’allouer des fonds chaque année pour soutenir les actions très prioritaires et importantes pour l’ensemble du bassin du lac Champlain :  

  • suivi à long terme de la qualité de l’eau  
  • mise en œuvre du plan et subventions aux programmes éducatifs avec les intervenants locaux  
  • projets de prévention directe de la pollution  
  • recherche ciblée sur l’environnement  
  • interprétation et utilisation de données scientifiques objectives pour informer les gestionnaires des ressources, le public et les responsables politiques 
  • nombreux programmes éducatifs, notamment d’importantes ressources sur le site du LCBP et le fonctionnement de la salle de ressources du LCBP au ECHO Leahy Center for the Lake Champlain  
  • soutien opérationnel aux organismes de bassins versant  
  • programmes patrimoniaux et récréatifs conformes aux objectifs du Plan de gestion du patrimoine national de la vallée de Champlain 

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The LCBP and the CVNHP have awarded over $13 million to more than 500 grants and contracts since the plan was last updated in 2017. Many of these grants were augmented by non-federal matching funds or other federally funded programs (Appendix II).

Clean Water

The LCBP awarded 138 projects, summing to over $7.7 million, to address priorities in the Clean Water goal between 2017-2021. These projects conducted research, monitoring, and assessments and designed and installed water quality improvement projects across the Basin. Notably, over 200 conservation practices were implemented across 150 farms in the Basin and 50 acres of wetlands were restored or conserved. Over 130 acres of shoreland and riparian habitat were planted or managed, including management of terrestrial invasive species that would inhibit growth of planted trees. Over $1 million was dedicated to research to inform management decisions about stormwater, to understand innovative phosphorus reduction and treatment approaches, and to map impervious surface area. Another $1.6 million supported monitoring programs, including cyanobacteria monitoring, tributary flow monitoring, and meteorological monitoring programs. Over $1.5 million supported stormwater master planning, and the installation of more than 50 stormwater BMPs to keep over 75,000 pounds annually of sediment out of Lake Champlain and its tributary system. Over $500,000 supported three dam removals, and culvert assessments and replacements, reconnecting 30 miles of stream networks for fish passage. 

In addition to managing the 138 projects noted above, LCBP staff completed the report Nutrient Loading and Impacts in Lake Champlain, Missisquoi Bay, and the Richelieu River as part of the International Joint Commission’s Missisquoi Bay Water Quality project in partnership with Organisme de basin versant de la baie Missisquoi (OBVBM). Staff also supported the International Joint Commission’s Lake Champlain-Richelieu River Study Board analysis of flooding causes, impacts, risks, and solutions. The final report for this study will be published in 2022. LCBP staff coordinated the planning and hosting of the Lake Champlain Research Conference, which brought together more than 200 stakeholders for interdisciplinary sessions on lake science and management. Agronomists in New York and Vermont assisted farmers in implementing best management practices to reduce erosion and export of nutrients from farmland. Staff conducted analyses and produced a Lake Champlain tributary loading report which examines trends in pollutant delivery from the Lake’s major tributaries since 1990. 

An additional $22.4 million was appropriated between Federal Fiscal Years 2018 and 2021 for the implementation of the Vermont 2016 TMDL for phosphorus reduction in Lake Champlain. These funds have largely been directed to the State of Vermont to support grant programs for implementation of agricultural BMPs, acquisition and conservation of critical wetlands, and addressing stormwater problems in public schools across the Vermont portion of the Lake Champlain Basin. Targeted programs also will reduce nutrient loading to the Lake as a result of municipal stormwater assessments, reducing nutrient loading into Lake Carmi, reducing runoff from non-municipal roads, and supporting forestry accepted management practices.  

Healthy Ecosystems

LCBP staff managed over 60 projects summing to over $800,000 that were awarded to address aquatic invasive species (AIS) concerns across the Lake Champlain Basin. These projects provided trainings to watershed groups, inspected more than 65,675 watercraft at boat launches on waterbodies across the Basin, removed more than 2,100 AIS from boats, and fully decontaminated over 630 watercraft. Twenty new decontamination stations for boats and angling gear were installed at public access points on lakes and rivers. Projects mapped new and existing AIS infestations, removed thousands of invasive plants from Lake Champlain and inland waterways, supported biological and mechanical management of invasive plants, and assessed nearly 50 lakes and ponds for AIS.  

Separately, nearly $1 million supported more than 40 LCBP boat launch stewards, who inspected nearly 140,000 watercraft from 49 U.S. states and Canadian provinces at public access points on Lake Champlain. These inspections identified and removed 3,183 AIS from watercraft and trailers, preventing them from being introduced into Lake Champlain or from being trailered to other waterbodies in the region. These funds also supported the purchase and maintenance of two high pressure, hot water decontamination stations that are operated at high traffic public launches on the lake. 

LCBP staff spent significant time working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on a study to determine options for an AIS barrier on the Champlain Canal. A Phase 1 study was initiated in 2017, with $200,000 in local sponsor funds provided to the USACE. The report for that study will be completed in 2022. Staff also helped to coordinate meetings between stakeholders and the USACE to identify projects eligible for support through the USACE Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) Section 542 authorization for watershed improvement projects. Staff led multi-state, bi-national, multi-agency efforts to discuss approaches to preventing new invasions of aquatic species, including hydrilla and round goby. Staff also participated in and coordinated Vermont and New York Dam Task Forces, respectively, to bring together stakeholders to identify and prioritize removal of dams that no longer serve a useful purpose and to improve aquatic organism passage.  

Thriving Communities

Over $500,000 in projects were awarded to groups across the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership area to support interpretation of the culture and history of the region. CVNHP supported 24 projects focused on the three interpretive themes: Making of Nations, Corridor of Commerce, and Conservation & Community. An additional seven Special Program projects were larger-scale awards that supported these interpretive themes. Nineteen heritage projects helped students learn about local history, 16 collections projects helped museums protect, conserve, inventory, and display artifacts and interpretive exhibits. The CVNHP also supported workforce development in this sector through six internship grants, in which students or new professionals to the culture and recreation field worked in museums and earned hands-on learning experiences for their resumes.  

The LCBP and CVNHP staff also developed, designed, produced, and installed 66 new and refurbished six interpretive wayside exhibits across the CVNHP area. Staff produced a guide to the Revolutionary War in the Champlain Valley, celebrated and interpreted the International Year of the Salmon, and commemorated the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Staff built and maintained partnerships across the region, coordinating and engaging in meetings and conversations to move new ideas forward in the CVNHP.  

The LCBP continued to support watershed groups with missions centered on achieving water quality improvements in the Lake Champlain watershed with 55 projects, summing to more than $185,000. When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in March 2020, the watershed groups of the Lake Champlain Basin faced significant fiscal uncertainty. Recognizing the invaluable work that these groups do for Lake Champlain, the Lake Champlain Steering Committee re-prioritized some available funds to support 14 one-time COVID Emergency support grants to help watershed groups transition to virtual platforms and programming during the early days of the work-from-home period. 

Informed and Involved Public

The LCBP supported more than 95 projects totaling nearly $1,000,000 that focused on public education and outreach. These projects worked to build school outreach programs, summer youth programs, and community development. The COVID pandemic of 2020-2021 reduced in-person engagements, but the LCBP and partners quickly pivoted programs to virtual platforms to continue working with interested members of the public. Nearly 25 educational events were supported with grant awards, reaching 225 students interested in learning more about Lake Champlain issues, and summer youth programs connected with over 175 additional people. New projects supported 20 workshops and community events, and five new exhibits were produced. Local organizations created more than 40 short videos, addressing a broad spectrum of water quality and watershed management topics.  

LCBP staff in the Resource Room at ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain engaged with 115,000 visitors between 2017 and 2021. The COVID pandemic significantly reduced visitation to this facility and the LCBP’s ability to deliver in-person programming during this time. The LCBP website was redesigned in 2020, providing updated and new content to visitors. The new website receives more than 160,000 hits annually, and more people visit six additional websites maintained by the LCBP. LCBP social media accounts average more than 4,000 unique user views per month. The Lake Champlain Basin Atlas was updated in 2018, and is now a resource accessed by teachers, researchers, and resource managers for maps and quick-reference information about the Basin. LCBP staff delivered over 325 programs to schools, community groups, and on field trips, sharing information about watersheds and wetlands. The LCBP published the State of the Lake report in 2018 and 2021, summarizing data around key indicators of the health of the Lake Champlain Basin. 

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Coordinate Programs and Implementation Activities 

Coordination of the work conducted in multiple political jurisdictions by numerous federal and state resource agencies, regional and local governments, private-sector stakeholders, nonprofit organizations, residents, and visitors is critical to effective management of the Lake Champlain Basin. By coordinating management efforts and the dispersal of resources and facilitating dialogue and the exchange of data and information, the LCBP helps to ensure efficient management that reduces redundancy among partners.  

Support Local-level Implementation and Involve the Public  

On-the-ground work conducted at the local level by watershed groups, lake associations, conservation districts, and educational institutions is the cornerstone of a successful restoration effort. Local residents who are most directly affected by an issue are often motivated to address the issue. Many communities have existing resources and organizations to help implement programs, but may lack technical expertise, adequate funding, or access to additional human and financial resources. Building local capacity for plan implementation requires strengthening technical assistance to community groups and may require additional financial support for local programs.  

A public that understands the Basin’s water quality and resource management issues can make informed choices about the long-term protection and restoration of the Lake. For this reason, public information and outreach efforts have been a core function of the LCBP’s work since its establishment. Informing the public about how to change personal and collective behaviors and providing opportunities to change those behaviors are critical steps in reducing our impact on Lake Champlain. Furthermore, involving the public in planning and implementation increases both the sphere of responsibility for action and support for recommended policy actions.  

Measure and Monitor Success Relavite to Benchmarks

Monitoring progress toward established goals is a critical component of watershed management. Tracking of this kind hinges on the availability of reliable data that informs key ecosystem indicators of watershed health. Evaluation of trends related to these indicators leads to the adjustment of management actions and funding priorities. In this way, monitoring ensures accountability to the public. The State of the Lake Report, which summarizes the status and trends of these indicators every three years, is the LCBP’s primary outlet for communicating this process to the public.  

In addition, the LCBP works in close collaboration with federal, state, and provincial partners to track the success of specific management initiatives. The LCBP has published an annual report of LCBP-funded accomplishments for our state and federal partners to use in tracking performance measures within their unique accounting systems since Federal Fiscal Year 2016. For nutrient management-related projects, the LCBP also provides specific project information to the States of Vermont and New York for use in their phosphorus accounting systems for TMDL progress tracking. This approach reduces the risk of “double counting” management interventions, while also ensuring that management interventions funded solely by the LCBP are included within the respective State and Federal accounting systems.  

Each of the four goals of the 2022 plan identifies anticipated metrics that will measure success in implementation of the Plan at the goal and strategy levels. These targets reflect anticipated numbers of management interventions, funding for research programs, audiences for outreach campaigns, and recreation programs. This information will be provided in our annual report to our state and federal partners to use in their performance tracking systems.  

Promote and Advise Partner Communications  

Protection and restoration of the Basin relies on continued input and support from numerous individuals and groups. Decisions concerning the management of the resources in the Lake Champlain Basin must be made through a consensus-based, collaborative process that encourages the expression and understanding of diverse viewpoints. This process helps integrate economic and environmental considerations into management actions and ensures that a focus on implementation at the local level is maintained. Through its committees and the partner workgroup in which it participates, the LCBP helps to ensure that the numerous stakeholders working on Basin issues communicate regularly.  

LCBP Committees  

LCBP staff will continue to coordinate and facilitate regular meetings of the Lake Champlain Steering Committee, the Executive Committee, and its three advisory committees: Technical, Education & Outreach, and Heritage Area Partnership. These committees are charged with developing annual budget priorities, informing project workplans and providing recommendations on draft project reports. Subcommittees, including the Aquatic Nuisance Species Subcommittee and Toxic Substances Workgroup of the Technical Advisory Committee, meet ad hoc to focus on specific issues and share information.  

Federal Partners Workgroup  

The Lake Champlain Federal Partners Workgroup consists of many of the U.S. federal agencies working toward goals in the Lake Champlain watershed and is currently coordinated by LCBP staff. These partners include the core group of federal agencies that are signatories of Opportunities for Action, as well as several other agencies. Federal agencies formally participating in the Workgroup through a Memorandum of Understanding include the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), National Park Service (NPS), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), United States Forest Service (USFS), and the United States Geological Survey. Other agencies, including Lake Champlain Sea Grant (a program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), participate in this group informally. These agencies allocate resources, either in the form of staff time or funding for programmatic areas including research, monitoring, training, infrastructure improvements, or management interventions. A renewal of the Federal Partners Workgroup MOU may add new federal agencies to the agreement, including the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), USDA-Rural Development, USDA-Farm Services Agency (FSA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Weather Service (NWS) and others. In 2016, the LCBP began coordinating and facilitating communications and meetings for the group. These meetings bring together staff from many of the federal agencies working toward management of the Lake Champlain watershed. These meetings provide an opportunity for agency representatives to report on recent projects, discuss upcoming initiatives and funding opportunities, and develop new collaborative programs targeting priority management goals within the Lake Champlain Basin.  

Ad hoc Meetings and Workgroups  

LCBP staff frequently provide meeting facilitation for partners. Most recently, the International Joint Commission (IJC) requested meeting facilitation services to coordinate discussions of potential flood management strategies for Lake Champlain, in response to the spring 2011 flooding event that affected many residents on the Lake Champlain shoreline as well as those downstream of Lake Champlain along the Richelieu River in Québec.  

At the request of partners, the LCBP periodically organizes workgroups or discussions focusing on specific issues. LCBP resources often are used to arrange site facilities for the event, coordinate the meeting, facilitate the conversations during the event, and provide meeting follow-up information for participants. The LCBP anticipates similar requests to facilitate cross-border (bi-state, state-provincial and bi-national) conversations, particularly in Missisquoi Bay. The Program also is engaged in coordinating conversations regarding aquatic invasive species vectors through canalways connecting the Hudson River to Lake Champlain in New York and allowing for navigation of the Richelieu River to and from Lake Champlain in Québec.  

Partners In Action

Countless partners—including federal, state, and provincial agencies, watershed and conservation groups, heritage and recreation organizations, and local citizens—work to prevent pollution and protect, restore, enhance, and enjoy the water quality of the Lake Champlain Basin. Many of these partners are guided primarily by their own plans and priorities, such as the Phosphorus TMDL Implementation Plan for Lake Champlain or the Aquatic Invasive Species Rapid Response Plan. The intent of OFA is to provide guidance to Steering Committee and advisory committee members in identifying the annual budget priorities and tasks for the LCBP, including its function of collaborating with and coordinating the efforts of these partners. While OFA focuses on the actions of agency partners and other stakeholder organizations, it also aims to improve the knowledge of lake issues among the public and the private sectors, and to encourage positive changes in stewardship behaviors.  

Local Residents and Visitors   

The cumulative effect of many individual actions makes a substantial difference in the complex issues facing the Lake Champlain Basin. In this way, all members of the public are key partners in implementation of OFA. More than 600,000 people live, work, and play in the Lake Champlain Basin, which they share with more than six million annual visitors. The need for increased public involvement underlies all the actions in the plan. Individual changes in household and workplace practices, such as maintaining septic systems properly and reducing the use of toxic chemicals in cleaning and lawn care, are needed. Citizens can volunteer for local boards, monitor their community activities, and participate in citizen groups that work for a cleaner Lake. Visitors bring significant tourism income and an appreciation of the region’s natural assets, which in turn encourages sustainable practices by local businesses. OFA emphasizes education and outreach programs to encourage public involvement to augment the efforts of agencies to achieve management goals for Lake Champlain.  

State and Provincial Agencies  

State and provincial agencies in New York, Québec, and Vermont have several key roles in protecting the Basin’s resources. They administer several critically important resource management programs, including water-quality protection programs, wetlands protection programs, fish and wildlife management programs, and recreation and cultural resource programs, among others. The states and province also provide technical and financial assistance, such as training for wastewater treatment plant operators and funding for local nonpoint source pollution control projects, to ensure that the appropriate people have the expertise to implement their programs.  

U.S. Federal Agencies   

Many of the activities necessary to improve the watershed must occur at the local and state levels. However, environmental restoration efforts in the Lake Champlain Basin often benefit from the work of federal agencies that implement key projects on the ground. Agency support of the plan is coordinated through a unique network of partnerships. Several federal agencies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate their cooperation and coordination through the LCBP. Representatives of these agencies are active in many LCBP activities.  

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides financial and technical support to the States and to the LCBP for implementing several federal environmental programs and is responsible for implementation and enforcement of the Clean Water Act, including approval of Total Maximum Daily Loads for Lake Champlain segments, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and other key environmental laws. The agency ensures that all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment.  
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides financial and technical assistance for best management practices that control nonpoint source pollution, particularly from agricultural runoff.  
  • The U.S. Department of the Interior supports the management plan through the work of three agencies.  
    • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cooperates with the States in the management of fish and wildlife resources, plans and carries out site-specific habitat restoration projects, operates a National Wildlife Refuge and two National Fish Hatcheries that support work in the Basin, works with partners on landscape scale conservation planning, and helps ensure that the actions of other federal agencies are consistent with the needs for fish and wildlife conservation.  
    • The National Park Service serves as a partner through the National Heritage Areas Program to provide support, financial assistance, and advice on managing the important cultural heritage and recreational resources within the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership.  
    • The U.S. Geological Survey provides financial and technical support through stream gauge monitoring and watershed research concerning nutrients and contaminants of concern.  
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is authorized by Section 542 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (revised 2007) to provide assistance with planning, designing, and implementing projects that contribute to protection and enhancement of the Lake Champlain water quality, water supply, ecosystem, and other water-related issues while preserving and enhancing the economic and social character of the communities within the watershed. The USACE works in partnership with the LCBP to implement the Section 542 program within the Lake Champlain Basin. Additional WRDA authorizations may also be accessed to allow USACE to execute projects in the Champlain Basin.  
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce, through the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program, provides financial and technical support for research, management of fisheries and other aquatic resources, and related watershed programs operated by Lake Champlain Sea Grant. In 2018, Lake Champlain Sea Grant was advanced to Institute status. The Institute designation gives the program increased national recognition and an enhanced ability to support research throughout the region.  


NEIWPCC1 is a regional commission that helps the states of the Northeast preserve and advance water quality. Established in 1947 by the U.S. Congress, NEIWPCC engages and convenes water quality professionals and other interested parties from New England and New York to collaborate on water, wastewater, and environmental science challenges across shared regions, ecosystems, and areas of expertise. NEIWPCC’s executive committee and commissioners (gubernatorial appointees from each of its member states2) set the goals and priorities implemented by the Executive Director and the staff. NEIWPCC is a federal grant recipient and receives Section 120 funds from the US EPA, as well as other federal agencies, to assist and support the LCBP in implementing OFA. As the host entity of the LCBP, NEIWPCC also provides programmatic advice; hires and supervises staff; manages subawards and contracts; provides administrative, financial, and human resources support; provides direction to the LCBP and the work of its staff; and participates in the Lake Champlain Steering Committee as a non-voting member.  

In 1992, the Lake Champlain Management Conference sought NEIWPCC to administer the newly formed LCBP by managing the bulk of its personnel and financial resources according to programmatic goals laid out by the Management Conference (and subsequently the Lake Champlain Steering Committee), a responsibility which NEIWPCC accepted. The role of NEIWPCC in administering finances for the LCBP was further codified in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain Act of 2002 (Clean Water Act §120), in which NEIWPCC was named alongside the States of Vermont and New York as an entity authorized to receive funding from the USEPA to administer the LCBP. LCBP operations handled by NEIWPCC conform to its Quality Management Plan, approved by the USEPA.  

Local Governments   

Most of the solutions to problems affecting the Basin, such as nonpoint source pollution from urban and agricultural land uses, failing septic systems, planning for future development, and recreation conflicts, are best implemented at the local level. The plan identifies several actions, mainly in the Thriving Communities Goal, through which the LCBP can assist local governments to address these matters. Key partners likely to implement such actions are selectboards, local boards and commissions. Because local governments have primary authority over planning—and increasingly, financial responsibility—for the impact of their transportation infrastructure, it is essential that they incorporate a watershed planning focus into their work.  

Regional Government Organizations   

Watersheds cross town boundaries, and one town acting alone may not be sufficient to address a particular issue. Regional organizations, such as the county planning offices in New York, Municipalité Régionale de Comté (Regional Municipalities) in Québec, and the Regional Planning Commissions in Vermont, work with several jurisdictions to coordinate efforts that address issues of mutual concern. They will continue to be key partners in focusing implementation efforts through a watershed approach to planning and ensuring that the recommendations of the Plan are carried out equitably.  

Legislative Bodies   

Legislative bodies in the Basin are responsible for enacting laws and appropriating funds for many programs important to the Lake. Consistent policies in New York, Québec, and Vermont help to ensure effective and equitable management. The LCBP seeks opportunities to facilitate coordination among the lawmaking bodies of the three jurisdictions. Successful implementation requires that legislators respond decisively and creatively to protect and enhance the resources of the Basin in the face of technical, political, and financial obstacles.  

Nongovernmental Organizations   

Many actions in the Plan list nonprofit and citizen-based organizations as potential key partners. Watershed associations and environmental groups have long helped to organize and support local action, including water-quality monitoring, research, conservation of cultural heritage resources, educational workshops, streambank stabilization, toxin reduction initiatives, aquatic species control, public forums, and the encouragement of low-impact recreational activities. Their continued communication with the LCBP about emerging issues and priorities is invaluable.  

Academic Institutions and Research Organizations   

Academic institutions, research organizations, and cooperative extension programs have served vital roles in studying Lake Champlain and its Basin. Institutions such as the University of Vermont, SUNY Plattsburgh, Paul Smith’s College, St. Michael’s College, Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement (IRDA), McGill University, Université de Sherbrooke, Cornell University, Middlebury College, Castleton and Northern Vermont universities, and others have conducted a variety of research projects on the Lake and the Basin. They also have educated students, teachers, and other citizens about Lake Champlain issues. Many actions in the Plan call for research concerning Lake-wide problems and emerging issues. Continued OFA implementation requires continued participation by academic institutions and research organizations and depends greatly on the soundness of data and information collected by them. 

The Lake Champlain Research Consortium (LCRC), a multidisciplinary research and education program that includes many of these institutions, collaborates with the LCBP periodically to sponsor research symposia and conferences, and helps identify research needs and priorities related to the management issues in the Plan.  

Coordinating Organizations  

The need for state and international communication and cooperation regarding the management of the Lake Champlain Basin has been apparent since the 1940s. Numerous successful efforts have brought the two states and countries together to deal with common issues since that time.  

The Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative was created through written agreement in 1973 by the USFWS, the NYSDEC, and the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife. The Cooperative Agreement, which was updated in 1995 and renewed in 2009, created a Policy Committee consisting of program directors from the three agencies and management and technical committees of agency staff to coordinate fish and wildlife programs of interstate significance in Lake Champlain. Organizations in Québec are not formal partners with the Cooperative but coordinate and communicate with the Cooperative.  

International Treaty Organizations 

The Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 created the International Joint Commission (IJC) to resolve and to avoid potential disputes regarding the use of boundary waters along the U.S. and Canadian border. IJC membership is comprised of six commissioners appointed by the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Canada. The IJC convened a Champlain-Richelieu Board during the 1970s to examine regulation of water levels in Lake Champlain and more recently supported research and planning endeavors focused in the Missisquoi River Basin. In 2016, the IJC embarked on a new planning effort to address flooding issues in the Lake Champlain-Richelieu River corridor. This project is anticipated to be complete by late 2022, with several recommendations to be issued to the governments of Canada and the United States.  

Business and Industry   

The activities of private businesses and chambers of commerce are a critical component of protecting the resources that support the economic vitality of the Basin. Voluntary efforts to recycle and prevent pollution are examples of how the private sector has been active in implementing elements of the Plan. Educational partnerships with television and other news media have tremendously increased public awareness of the importance of individual citizen participation and community involvement in good Lake stewardship practices. Chambers of commerce have been effective at drawing together business interests to assist in the planning process and will continue to contribute knowledge through the course of Plan implementation.  

Secure and Direct Funding

The cost of implementing the Plan is high, though not as high as the potential costs of failing to act (LCBP Technical Report 81: An Assessment of the Economic Value of Clean Water in Lake Champlain. University of Vermont, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, 2015). The ability to implement watershed programs relies on the availability of and access to funding sources. Each fiscal year, the LCBP receives assistance awards from the USEPA, National Park Service, and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission through NEIWPCC. These funds are the basis of the LCBP annual budget, by which essential functions are supported, including annual staffing levels, core programmatic tasks (e.g. monitoring programs), and new “capital” projects, such as targeted research projects, management interventions, heritage and recreation grants, or outreach campaigns. The LCBP budget is aligned with the four goals of OFA. Additional funding opportunities may be considered where appropriate. Efforts will be made to ensure the LCBP does not secure funds from additional funding sources that may have been directed to other watershed groups working on similar goals in the Basin. 

Conduct Sound Research  

The Plan identifies several areas in which research is needed. Research has been an important component of preparing and updating the Plan and will continue to provide critical information as implementation evolves. Improved knowledge of the physical, chemical, biological, and social characteristics of the Lake and Basin will help resource managers make effective policy and management decisions in the future.  

Regularly Update Plan Recommendations  

Because environmental conditions in the Basin change over time and new technologies are routinely discovered, priorities for action in the Plan may change. Many priorities identified in the 2022 plan were generated through a virtual Summit held in June 2021, which included a facilitated discussion among participants from the Steering Committee and all LCBP advisory committees. Moving forward, some management programs may become more important, others less so. The Plan will be reviewed and updated periodically (ideally every five years) to reflect these changing conditions. Moreover, the Steering Committee may periodically identify new actions requiring implementation based on reports of emerging issues from advisory committees.  

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The Lake Champlain Basin Program has identified four goals that represent the key resource issues facing Lake Champlain and its watershed. Each goal is addressed by objectives, strategies, and task areas. The Plan also identifies anticipated metrics for each strategy to measure progress in implementation of the Plan. Objectives are the target areas for action that will help to reach the overarching goal of the chapter. Strategies outline the approaches that will be taken to achieve the objective using the general actions or tools identified in the task areas. Specific tasks in each task area will be identified as part of the budget process each year. The Lake Champlain Steering Committee will maintain an implementation schedule, to be developed independent of this Plan, which will be reviewed annually at the start of each budget cycle. The implementation schedule will identify a suite of strategies or priorities related to select topical areas for support in each budget cycle. This approach gives the Lake Champlain Basin Program committees an opportunity to review the task areas for each goal to determine progress made.  

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Several common themes that define the LCBP’s approach to reaching the ecosystem targets are present in all four goals outlined in this management plan. These themes reflect a whole-watershed management approach that addresses current and future resilience to environmental, economic, and political change.  

Holistic Watershed Approach

More than 95 percent of the water in Lake Champlain passes through the 8,234 square miles (21,326 km2) of the Basin as surface and subsurface runoff before reaching the Lake. As a result, land use activities and pollution sources throughout the Basin have a tremendous impact on the Lake and its ecosystems. Restoration or protection efforts based on watershed boundaries rather than political boundaries better address polluted or threatened areas. In addition to applying the watershed approach on a Basin-wide level, OFA encourages the watershed approach at a local level. This allows citizens to improve water quality based on their knowledge of their local area, and for neighboring communities to develop innovative ways to solve pollution problems within their local watersheds. Empowering local communities and their organizations to collaborate gives any effort a better chance of real, sustained success. The plan continues to use a watershed approach that links the Lake with activities in its watershed. 

The Lake Champlain Steering Committee recognizes that all segments of the Lake Champlain watershed are important, and that each segment has its own unique management issues. Some of these segments are further from their management targets than others, particularly with respect to nutrient management issues. Several state and federal partners have targeted specific watersheds to focus resources for nutrient pollution reduction in their respective management planning efforts. These watersheds include Missisquoi Bay, St. Albans Bay, and the South Lake (Crown Point area southward). The LCBP will work with state and federal partners to allocate a portion of LCBP funds for nutrient reduction in these high priority watersheds each year. These additional funds may be used for direct management interventions on the landscape, for planning initiatives, research, or short-term targeted monitoring programs designed to identify critical locations for future work. 

Resilience to Climate Change 

The climate in the Basin is changing and we must be prepared for an environment that may look very different in the future than the one we see today. Scientists predict a warmer, wetter watershed, which will have far-reaching impacts on tourism, water quality, frequency and toxicity of harmful algal blooms, invasive species spread, and many other management priorities. Recent research at the University of Vermont has shown that climate change is occurring at a faster rate in the region than originally predicted. Local, state, provincial and federal governments are starting to act. Planning for these changes at a watershed scale will create more resilient natural systems and human communities. Throughout each goal of the plan, principles that address local and regional-level climate change adaptation are embedded in the strategies for implementing action.  

Science-driven Collaborative Management 

Management of the Basin’s resources is based on consistent, high-quality data and current scientific knowledge that is developed by a diverse array of federal, state, provincial, local, and not-for-profit partners. Just as policy development and implementation of management actions require a consensus-based approach to decision making, the collection and development of the data and knowledge upon which those actions are based requires cooperation and coordination. 

Integration of the Environment and the Economy  

A healthy Lake Champlain is crucial to a strong regional economy, and a strong economy is good for the Lake. This plan strives to protect and restore the ecological and cultural resources of the Basin while maintaining vibrant local economies by identifying cost-effective solutions and ensuring efficient use of resources by coordinating funding efforts and management actions.  

Measurable Progress  

The LCBP carefully tracks the outcomes of funded projects to measure progress. Nearly $50 million in projects, monitoring efforts, programs and interpretive events were completed or initiated during the implementation of the 2017 management plan. This includes projects and programs initiated and managed by the States of New York and Vermont, and by the LCBP. These projects will improve water quality, expand research and monitoring programs and support public outreach. During that time, over 500 projects were supported with LCBP funds, ranging from curriculum development and cultural heritage preservation to aquatic invasive species spread prevention and nutrient reduction programs.  

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Phosphorus load reductions are required by state, federal and provincial law. The LCBP was established with the charge of coordinating efforts among government agencies working toward these outcomes. Within the constraints of the LCBP’s annual budget, the Lake Champlain Steering Committee has identified priorities for the LCBP for each goal. For each of these priorities, anticipated metrics will be tracked by the LCBP and summarized in an annual report of activities. These metrics also will be communicated to the relevant jurisdictional partners for their internal tracking purposes. The collective success of the LCBP and its partners is documented in the tri-annual State of the Lake and Ecosystem Indicators Report, which tracks progress in addressing issues toward phosphorus reductions, human health and toxins, and biodiversity and aquatic invasive species.  

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