Glossary & Abbreviations

Glossary & Abbreviations



Accepted Management Practice (AMP): an accepted practice or activity that reduces the amount of pollution entering a body of water.  

Agrochemical: a chemical product used in agriculture. In most cases, agrochemical refers to pesticides including insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. 

Algae: an informal term for a diverse group of organisms including bacteria and aquatic plants that occur as single cells, colonies, or strands. Algae use carbon dioxide and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus to make their own food through photosynthesis.  

Algae bloom or algal bloom: a situation often caused by excess nutrients whereby some species of algae can grow and reproduce rapidly, often forming dense mats on the surface of the water. Algae blooms can cause unpleasant or harmful conditions for swimmers or boaters. 

Aquatic: growing in, living in, or dependent upon water.  

Aquatic organism passage: the removal of barriers to movement through and between bodies of water. This can include dam removal, road removal, or enlargement of culverts and gates to allow more natural flows through these barriers. 


Basin: the surrounding land that drains into a water body. For Lake Champlain, the land that drains through the many rivers and their tributaries into the Lake itself.  

Benthic zone: the ecological region at the lowest level of a body of water such as an ocean, lake, or stream. 

Best management practice (BMP): a practice or activity that reduces the amount of pollution entering a body of water.  

Biodiversity: the variety of plants and animals, their genetic variability, and their interrelationships and ecological processes, and the communities and landscapes in which they exist.  

Biota: the animal or plant life of a region.  

Buffer (zone or strip): protective land border that reduces runoff and nonpoint source pollution loading to critical habitats or water bodies; area created or sustained to lessen the negative effects of land development on animals and plants and their habitats.  


Carbon sequestration: the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Sequestration reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change. 

Climate: the description of the long-term pattern of weather in a particular area. 

Climate change: significant changes in global temperature, precipitation, wind patterns and other measures of climate that occur over several decades or longer.  

Climate migration: the movement of people due to climate stressors such as changing rainfall, heavy flooding, storms, and sea level rise. 

Community: in the context of ecology, a group of interacting plants and animals inhabiting a given area. 

Concentration: the amount of a material dissolved in a solution.  

Contaminant: a substance that is not naturally present in the environment or is present in amounts that can adversely affect the environment.  

Contamination: in water resources, the impairment of water quality by waste to a degree that creates a hazard to public health or living resources through toxins or the spread of disease. Air and soil can also be contaminated in a comparable way.  

Corridor: in the context of wildlife, a strip of habitat that joins two larger blocks of habitat that permits movement of wildlife during dispersal or migration, such as a wooded area along a river.  

Cost-effective: in environmental policymaking, the lowest cost means achieving a pre-determined environmental objective. Costs include long-term, short-term, direct, and indirect costs to producers, society, and the environment.  

Cost-share: a method for sharing installation costs for conservation practices, including BMPs, between a governmental body (federal, state, local) and a farmer or landowner/land user.  

Criteria: a standard, rule, or test by which something can be judged; a measure of value.  

Critical habitat: any area which has unique or fragile natural, historical, geological, archeological or wildlife value; areas which are essential to the conservation of an officially listed endangered or threatened species and which may require special management considerations or protection are also considered critical habitats.  

Cultural heritage: historical and archaeological past reflected in existing culture.  

Cultural heritage resources: the physical record and memory of the past.  

Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae): a type of bacteria found in many lakes, ponds, and reservoirs that obtains energy through photosynthesis. Some cyanobacteria produce natural toxins. 

Cyanobacteria bloom: a situation often caused by excess nutrients whereby cyanobacteria grow and reproduce rapidly, often forming dense mats on the surface of the water. Cyanobacteria blooms can cause unpleasant or harmful conditions for swimmers or boaters. 

Cyanotoxins: toxins produced by cyanobacteria. Not all cyanobacteria blooms are harmful. A bloom can be harmful when the toxins (cyanotoxins) it produces reach concentrations that are dangerous to people, animals, and aquatic life. 



Database: a collection of data arranged for ease and speed of retrieval.  

Drainage basin: land area from which water flows into a river or lake, either from streams, groundwater, or surface runoff (see Basin or Watershed).  


Easement: an agreement by which a landowner gives up or sells one of the rights on their property. For example, a landowner may donate a right of way to allow community members access to a river or lake.  

Ecosystem: a group of plants and animals occurring together, and the physical environment with which they interact.  

Ecosystem approach: a way of looking at socio-economic and environmental information based on the boundaries of ecosystems such as the Lake Champlain Basin, rather than based on town, city, county or other political boundaries.  

Ecosystem-based approach: a management approach to making decisions based on the characteristics of the ecosystem in which a person or thing belongs. This concept takes into consideration interactions between the plants, animals and physical characteristics of the environment when making decisions about land use or living resource issues.  

Ecosystem function: the biological, geochemical, and physical processes that take place or occur within an ecosystem. 

Endangered species: a species in immediate danger of becoming extinct.  

Emerging contaminants: chemicals that are not currently or have only recently been regulated and about which there are concerns regarding their impact on human or ecological health. 

Erosion: the loosening and subsequent transport of soil away from its native site, or the wearing away of the land surface by running water, wind, ice, or gravity. Erosion often results from wind or the removal of vegetation.  


Failing or faulty septic system: a septic system that releases untreated or inadequately treated wastewater to surface or groundwater by surfacing and overland flow of effluent or by subsurface percolation.  

Fishery: the act, process, occupation, or season for taking fish.  

Fish passageway: a structure that is built, installed, or established to help fish bypass impediments in a waterway.  

Flood resilience: Being prepared, ready to respond, able to cope, and recover from a flood event.  

Floodplain: an area of low-lying ground adjacent to a river, formed mainly of river sediments and subject to flooding. 

Food web: the pattern of food consumption in a natural ecosystem. A food web is composed of many interconnecting food chains.  

Fragmentation: in ecology, habitat fragmentation is a process by which large and contiguous habitats are divided into smaller, isolated patches of habitats. 


Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI): a suite of systems and practices that restore and maintain natural hydrologic processes to reduce the volume and water quality impacts of stormwater runoff. Riparian buffers, green roofs, bioswales, cisterns, permeable pavements, and constructed wetlands are all examples of GSI. 

Groundwater: the water present beneath Earth’s surface in rock, soil, and the fractures of rock formations. 


Habitat: the place where a particular type of plant or animal lives. An organism’s habitat must provide all the basic requirements for life and should be free of harmful contaminants.  

Habitat degradation: reduction of the quality of the environment in which an organism or biological population usually lives or grows.  

Habitat restoration: the artificial manipulation of a habitat to restore it to its former condition.  

Harmful algal bloom (HAB): algal bloom that may create conditions that are harmful to human health or the ecosystem by production of natural toxins or other means.  

Headwaters: the source of a stream or river. Headwaters are located at the furthest point from where the water body empties or merges with another. 

Hydrology: the study of the distribution and movement of water both on and below the Earth’s surface, as well as the impact of human activity on water availability and conditions. 


Indigenous peoples: inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. Indigenous peoples have retained social, cultural, economic, and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.  

Infrastructure: the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (like buildings, roads, and power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise. 

Interpretation: communication that uses direct experience and multimedia to educate and inform. Interpretation is often used in programs and exhibits at educational, natural, and recreational sites, such as museums, parks, and science centers.  

Impervious surface: any hard surface that prevents or hinders the absorption of water into the soil, causes reduced quality of runoff water, or causes water to runoff in greater quantities or at greater flow rates than the natural surface. 

Integrity: in the context of ecology, a structurally sound and fully functional ecosystem is one that is said to have “ecological integrity.” Such an ecosystem is self-maintaining and resilient when disturbed.  

Invertebrate: small organisms like worms and clams that do not have a backbone.  


Load (also loading): the amount of a material entering a system from all sources over a given time interval. Local watershed: in this Plan, any watershed within a sub-basin of Lake Champlain.  


Management (natural resources management): to make a conscious, deliberate decision on a course of action to conserve, protect, restore, enhance, or control natural resources, or to take no action.  

Microplastics: fragments of any type of plastic less than 5 mm (0.20 in) in length, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the European Chemicals Agency. Microplastics cause pollution by entering natural ecosystems from a wide variety of sources, including clothing, food packaging, and industrial processes. 

Mitigation: actions taken to compensate for the negative effects of a particular project. Wetland mitigation usually takes the form of restoration or enhancement of a previously damaged wetland or creation of a new wetland.  


Nature-based Infrastructure: natural systems or engineered systems that mimic natural processes built to minimize flooding, erosion, and runoff. 

Non-native species: a species not present in the Lake Champlain Basin before European settlement.  

Nonpoint source pollution: nutrients or toxic substances that enter water from dispersed and uncontrolled sites, rather than through pipes. Sources of nonpoint source pollution include runoff from agricultural lands, urban and forest land, and on-site sewage disposal.  

Nuisance species: species that have adverse ecological or economic impacts or impede the use of Lake Champlain. May include native and non-native species.  

Nutrient: a substance like phosphorus or nitrogen which nourishes life. These are essential chemicals needed by plants or animals for growth. If other physical and chemical conditions are appropriate, excessive amounts of nutrients can lead to degradation of water quality by promoting excessive growth, accumulation, and subsequent decay of plants and cyanobacteria.  

Nutrient cycling: the system where energy and matter are transferred between living organisms and non-living parts of the environment. This occurs as animals and plants consume nutrients found in soil and water, and these nutrients are released back into the environment via death and decomposition. 

Nutrient loading: the release, through human activities, of nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients into the environment. Fertilizers from agriculture, phosphates from detergents, and sewage from urban development are examples of nutrients that can be loaded into aquatic systems. 

Nutrient management: an integrated approach designed to maximize the efficient use of nutrients, particularly phosphorus which is found in animal manure and fertilizer.  


Pathogens: organisms, usually viruses, bacteria, or fungi, capable of causing disease.  

PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons): are a class of chemicals that occur naturally in coal, crude oil, and gasoline. They are also produced when coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage and tobacco are burned. Exposure to some PAHs in the environment has been linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals. 

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances): a class of synthetic chemical compounds used in industry and consumer products since the 1950’s. Exposure to some PFAS in the environment has been linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals. 

Phytoplankton: very small, free-floating plants found in water bodies.  

Point source pollution: nutrients or toxic substances that enter a water body from a specific entry point, such as a pipe. For example, the discharge from a sewage treatment plant is point source pollution.  

Pollutant: a substance that causes pollution.  

Pollution: impairment of land, air or water quality caused by agricultural, domestic, or industrial waste that negatively impacts beneficial uses of the land, air or water, or the facilities that serve such beneficial uses.  

Pollution prevention: any action such as the efficient use of raw materials, energy, and water that reduces or eliminates the creation of pollutants. In the Pollution Prevention Act, pollution prevention is defined as source reduction (see Source reduction).  

Population: the number of inhabitants in a country or region; in ecology, a population is a group of organisms of the same species living in a specified area and interbreeding.  

Protection: Preservation of a parcel of land to reduce impacts of development or other human-based land uses or to prevent the degradation of water quality, a species, or habitat.  


Rare species: a species not presently in danger, but of concern because of low numbers.  

Refugia: habitats that convey resistance and/or resilience to natural communities affected by disturbances. Refugia can support an isolated or relict population of a once more widespread species. 

Resilience: the ability of a system or community to resist damages, or the speed the system or community recovers after being disturbed.  

Resource management: the management of natural resources such as land, water, soil, plants, and animals, with a focus on stewardship for both present and future generations. 

Restoration: any action taken to repair, maintain, protect, and enhance the ecological integrity of the Basin.  

Riparian (habitat or zone): habitat occurring along rivers, streams and creeks that provides for a high density, diversity and productivity of plant and animal species.  

Runoff: water from rain, melted snow, or agricultural or landscape irrigation that flows over the land surface into a water body.  


Salinization: the process by which water-soluble salts accumulate in soil or water. 

Sedimentation: the deposition or accumulation of sediment such as sand, silt, or clay.  

Source reduction: any practice which reduces the amount of any hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant entering wastewater. Source reduction decreases the hazards to public health and the environment associated with the release of such substances, pollutants, or contaminants.  

Stakeholder: An individual, group or organization impacted by the outcome of a plan or project. In a watershed, stakeholders include members of the public, decision makers, and individuals or groups with a specific interest in how the watershed is managed. 

Stewardship: the concept of responsible caretaking. Stewardship is based on the premise that managers of natural and cultural resources are responsible to future generations for their condition.  

Stormwater runoff: precipitation running off saturated or frozen soils and impervious surfaces such as paved parking lots, streets, or roofs.  

Stream equilibrium: a balancing process associated with interrelated stream physical adjustments that naturally maintain stream channels in their most efficient and least erosive form. 

Sub-basin: a smaller drainage area within a large drainage basin, such as the Saranac River sub-basin of the Lake Champlain Basin. In this Plan, “sub-basin” refers to one of the 34 drainage areas (larger than 26 km2) to Lake Champlain.  


Threatened species: a species with high possibility of becoming endangered in the near future (see Endangered species).  

Tile drain: a network or system of underground pipes that siphon away excess water from the soil. 

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL): the maximum amount (load) of a single pollutant from all contributing point and nonpoint sources that a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards, and an allocation of that amount of the pollutant’s sources.  

Toxic substance: any substance which upon exposure, ingestion, inhalation, or assimilation into any organism, causes death, disease, genetic mutations, physiological malfunctions, or physical deformation. Examples of toxic substances are cyanides, phenols, pesticides, and heavy metals.  

Toxic: poisonous, carcinogenic, or otherwise directly harmful to life.  

Tributary: a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or river or lake.  


Underserved communities: populations that face barriers in accessing and using services and resources because of geographic location, income, racial and ethnic background, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or special needs such as language barriers, disabilities, citizenship, or age.  

Urban runoff: stormwater from city streets and adjacent domestic or commercial properties that may carry pollutants of various kinds into the sewer systems and/or receiving waters.  


Vector: in lake management, vectors are transfer mechanisms responsible for the introduction and spread of invasive species including transport by boats and trailers, dumping of live bait, and release from aquariums and private ponds. 


Wastewater: used water that has been affected by domestic, industrial, or commercial use. Stormwater runoff can also be considered wastewater, especially if directed to a wastewater treatment plant.  

Watershed: the geographic reach within which water drains into a particular river, stream, or body of water. A watershed includes both the land and the body of water into which the land drains.  

Watershed group: a citizen-based group interested in protecting a nearby waterway and its surrounding drainage area.  

Watershed planning: cooperative local and regional land use planning that recognizes watershed boundaries rather than political boundaries and considers water resources management as the central planning objective.  

Wetland restoration: any action that aids in preserving, repairing, maintaining, or enhancing wetlands (see Wetlands).  

Wetlands: lands that are transitional between land and water where the water table is usually at or near the surface of the land. Wetlands are characterized by unique hydric soils and contain plant and animal communities adapted to aquatic or intermittently wet conditions. Swamps, bogs, wet meadows, and marshes are examples of wetlands. The boundary of Lake Champlain wetlands has been defined at 105 feet (31.1 meters) above mean sea level.  

Wildlife: for the purposes of this Plan, the term “wildlife” includes any non-domesticated mammal, fish, bird, amphibian, reptile, mollusk, crustacean, arthropod, and other invertebrate or plant.  


Zooplankton: very small, free-floating animals found in water bodies.  

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AIS Aquatic Invasive Species 

AMP Accepted Management Practice 

ANS Aquatic Nuisance Species 

ANSTF Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force 

BIL Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill 

BMP Best Management Practice 

CAB Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere 

CABN Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Network 

CAC Citizens Advisory Committee 

CBEI Champlain Basin Education Initiative 

COVID Coronavirus Disease 

CVNHP Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership 

E&O Education and Outreach 

EDRR Early Detection and Rapid Response 

EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency 

FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency 

FSA Farm Services Agency 

GLFC Great Lakes Fishery Commission 

GLLCISP Great Lakes and Lake Champlain Invasive Species Program 

GSI Green Stormwater Infrastructure 

HAB Harmful Algal Bloom 

HAPAC Heritage Area Partnership Advisory Committee 

HUD United States Department of Housing and Urban Development 

IJC International Joint Commission 

IRDA Institut de research et de développement en agroenvironnment 

LCANSIS Lake Champlain Aquatic Nuisance Species Information System Database 

LCBP Lake Champlain Basin Program 

LCRC Lake Champlain Research Consortium 

LID Low Impact Development 

MBRNHP Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park 

MOA Memorandum of Agreement 

MOU Memorandum of Understanding 

NEANS Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species 

NGO Non-Governmental Organization 

NHA National Heritage Area 

NPS National Park Service 

NRCS Natural Resources Conservation Service 

NWS National Weather Service 

NYS New York State 

NYSDEC New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 

OFA Opportunities for Action 


PCBs Polychlorinated Biphenyls 

PFAS Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances 

QC Québec 

QC MDDELCC Ministère du Développement durable, 

de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements 

climatiques du Québec/Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change of Québec 

RAP Required Agricultural Practices 

RFP Request for Proposals 

SGCN Species of Greatest Conservation Need 

SUNY State University of New York 

TAC Technical Advisory Committee 

TMDL Total Maximum Daily Load 

UN United Nations 

USACE United States Army Corps of Engineers 

USDA United States Department of Agriculture 

USDOT United States Department of Transportation 

USEPA United States Environmental Protection Agency 

USFWS United States Fish and Wildlife Service 

USFS United States Forest Service 

USGS United States Geological Survey 

UVM University of Vermont 

VT Vermont 

VTANR Vermont Agency of Natural Resources 

VTDEC Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation 

WEC Watershed for Every Classroom 

WRDA Water Resources Development Act 

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