Thriving Communities

Thriving Communities

GOAL: Lake Champlain Basin communities have an appreciation and understanding of the Basin’s rich natural and cultural resources, and have the capacity to implement actions that will result in sound stewardship of these resources while maintaining strong local economies.


ny measure of a sustainable watershed must include communities that are thriving in a way that is compatible with the protection of our natural and cultural resources. A community only thrives when there is a balance of careful stewardship of those resources and smart economic development. Sound social and economic objectives are cornerstones of natural resource management and sustainable development. While economic development is beyond the purview of the LCBP and OFA, the organization can support and inform efforts by the business community and industry to implement lake-friendly and culturally responsible practices that contribute to a stronger economy and a healthier Lake.  

The LCBP has an array of tools to foster thriving communities. The Champlain Valley National Heritage Area Partnership is a National Park Service program that focuses on stewardship, education and interpretation of our region’s rich history and culture, collaboration among New York, Vermont and Québec, and sustainable tourism from the mouth of the Richelieu River to the southern end of the Champlain Canal. The Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Network encourages dialog among partners in the Basin and Adirondack Park. While these efforts are large in scale, the LCBP also promotes this networking and knowledge-sharing at the state, regional, and local levels. The strategies below lay out an approach to ensuring that successful efforts are recognized and shared.  


The LCBP has supported partners and encouraged collaboration for more than 30 years. The Program has provided watershed efforts with support and trainings through its Organizational Support to Watershed Groups grant programs. The LCBP has provided forums for discussions on stewardship techniques among foresters, farmers, municipal and state officials, and landowners. School programs and outreach efforts strive to educate the public on how they can help address the issues facing Lake Champlain—and explain why the actions they take are in their best interest. The LCBP has illuminated the connection between a clean, sustainable environment and a vibrant, growing economy.  

The LCBP State of the Lake Report condenses the outcomes of our partners’ efforts every three years, and the LCBP annual report provides information on every project undertaken in the previous fiscal year. These documents allow residents and policy makers to understand our collective progress toward achieving OFA goals. As social and environmental issues evolve, so does the plan. In addition to continuing address the actions described above, the LCBP will work to strengthen technical outreach and training, support plans for pending climate migration, take actions to increase engagement with underserved communities, and better illustrate how investing in infrastructure can benefit us economically.    

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An important first step in linking the value of a clean lake to the regional economy is a comprehensive assessment of the value of ecosystem services and the direct financial benefit to the business community, including revenues from recreation and tourism. Working with the business community, including farmers and loggers, to implement lake-friendly practices—from minor adjustments in everyday operations to large-scale innovation—can help enhance the ecological and economic services provided by clean water. The LCBP has traditionally presented Farm Awards to agricultural producers who implement practices to protect water quality. Extending the awards program concept to other areas, including implementation of effective green stormwater infrastructure, will highlight businesses that adopt more water-wise practices and exhibit leadership. 

The LCBP has provided leadership in the recent revival of the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere program, which was dormant for 30 years. The Biosphere provides more opportunities for encouraging our municipalities and citizens to be careful stewards of our natural and cultural resources. It also provides a platform to encourage an exchange of ideas and practices from other biospheres from across the globe. The formation of the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Network (CABN) created a “network of networks” that better ties communities and organizations working toward the same sustainable goals for the environment and society. The LCBP will support this effort through leadership, staffing, and grants. 

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An appreciation of our natural and cultural heritage is critical in fostering an understanding of them; that appreciation and understanding leads to stewardship. The Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) works on many fronts to preserve, interpret, and showcase this heritage, and as such the 2011 CVNHP Management Plan is integrated into OFA by reference. The CVNHP has made great strides in helping the public better understand the past and put those lessons to use today.  

Each year, the CVNHP focuses on one of its interpretive themes: Making of Nations, Corridor of Commerce, and Conservation & Community. This annual approach encourages stakeholders to work together to collectively commemorate anniversaries, or mark special programs. In 2023, the CVNHP will focus on the bicentennial of the opening of the Champlain Canal as part of the Corridor of Commerce theme. Partners will mark this feat of engineering while providing information on the modern threats of invasive species using the waterway and colonizing Lake Champlain. In 2024, the CVNHP will focus on the Conservation & Community Interpretive Theme by highlighting the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere. The 250th anniversary of the American Revolution will be the focal point of the Making of Nations theme from 2025-2027.  

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Whether hiking in the mountains, boating on Lake Champlain, or plunging into a favorite swimming hole, most people who recreate outdoors have a strong bond with our forests, lakes, and streams. Recreation provides significant health benefits while building an appreciation of our natural resources. The LCBP has long been a proponent of creating access to the Lake and its tributaries. The LCBP will continue to support sustainable recreation efforts, promote ethical use of our public lands and waters, and develop additional access to those recreation resources, while encouraging members of underserved communities to enjoy and learn about our renowned natural resources and recreation opportunities.  

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Assessing the outcomes or benefits of efforts to improve the health of communities in the context of societal changes is extraordinarily difficult. Metrics for progress for community-level characteristics like a strong sense of place, community pride, and environmental awareness are difficult to define and measure. The benefits of assisting partners with meeting coordination, public education efforts, and financial and technical support are indirect and often not immediate. Tangible on-the-ground environmental outcomes (phosphorus reductions, habitat improvement, etc.) of these initiatives are generally realized because of successful technical improvements. Long-term changes in water quality knowledge and behavioral changes at the community level are best evaluated with program-specific evaluations and broad-scale surveys (see Goal IV: Informed and Involved Public). While the LCBP will continue to identify opportunities to evaluate the impact of our programs on societal and ecosystem scales, some basic measures have been introduced to better understand the impact of the LCBP, CVNHP and CABN grants and programs.   

Goal-level Metrics

  • Annual number of meetings, technical trainings, and other outreach events supported through grants and technical support  
  • Number of participants in those funded gatherings  
  • Number of documented partnerships maintained per year (e.g. grant MOAs, committee membership, etc.) 
  • Number of grants awarded 
  • Total amount of funding provided  
  • Total amount of match generated by the funding provided  
  • Number of volunteers participating in LCBP-sponsored projects 
  • Total amount of volunteer hours contributed to LCBP or CVNHP projects  
  • Value of those volunteer hours (rates provided by Independent Sector)  

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Objective III.A: Engage and support community and management partners.

Facilitate work and communication within and among local communities that further watershed protection and restoration efforts.

Strategy Task Area Metrics
III.A.1: Support local watershed groups. III.A.1.a: Grant Programs
Provide funds for local watershed groups to implement projects.
— Number of different watershed groups that successfully complete projects with LCBP funding
— Number of technical support programs offered
— Number of people in the Basin who receive technical support
— Total funding leveraged (including match, over-match, and non-match eligible leveraged funds)
  III.A.1.b: Technical Assistance
Provide technical assistance through meetings, workshops, presentation, and training.
  III.A.1.c: Targeted Watershed Capacity Building
Work with partners in priority watersheds (Missisquoi, St. Albans Bay, South Lake A and B) to provide technical support and capacity building.
III.A.2: Facilitate and coordinate public messaging with management partners. III.A.2.a: Annual Report of LCBP Activities
Publish report annually summarizing LCBP activities in the previous year.
— Number of meetings coordinated with partners (excluding LCBP standing committee meetings)
  III.A.2.b: Meeting Coordination
Assist partners with coordination of public meetings to inform the public about new legislation, programs, and initiatives.
  III.A.2.c: Public Feedback
Strengthen the feedback loop between resource managers and community members. Ensure the managers are answering questions relevant to communities.
III.A.3: Enhance flood resilience and climate change adaptation in community planning and development. III.A.3.a: Fund and Promote Outreach
Support and advise municipalities’ efforts to educate residents about sound river/floodplain management and promote recreation opportunities.
— Number of climate resilience and adaptation outreach tools developed
— Number of outreach activities and trainings directed to new Basin residents
  III.A.3.b: Plan for Climate Migration
Examine how Basin communities are likely to receive new climate migration residents and how this will affect the Basin as a whole.
III.A.4: Serve as a conduit for information, build professional capacity among stakeholders, and foster strong working relationships among the partners of the LCBP and CVNHP, and Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Network (CABN). III.A.4.a: Professional Development
Support professional development among CVNHP stakeholders, including hosting an annual heritage partnership conference.
-Number of participants in the annual CVNHP Summit
— Number of formal partnerships maintained (e.g. Steering Committee, CACs)
— Number of technical training opportunities made available to municipalities, indigenous communities, and NGOs
— Number of volunteers engaged in projects or programs
  III.A.4.b: Promote Partnerships
Encourage cooperation and enhance communication among partners within the CVNHP and CABN.
  III.A.4.c: Technical Outreach Training
Fund and promote technical training programs for technical and outreach staff working with stakeholders in the Basin.
  III.A.4.d: Technical Issue Training
Support seminars, workshops, and conferences to deliver technical information on topics such as BMPS, LID, stormwater management technologies, roads management, and adaptive management to municipal and state staff.
  III.A.4.e: Eco-benefit Education
Educate stakeholders on the benefits and outcomes of completed projects for water quality, to encourage local support for community-level investments in water quality projects that benefit the Lake.
  III.A.4.f: Economic Analysis
Conduct valuations of clean water and healthy watersheds to demonstrate the value of investing in watershed practices.
III.A.5: Support underserved communities and build diversity, equity, and inclusion principles into LCBP programming. III.A.5.a: Diversity Planning
Develop a long-term diversity, equity, inclusion plan to diversify the LCBP, including staff, committees, and opportunities among grants and education programs.
— Number of projects engaging underserved communities
— Number of new applications from groups representing underserved communities
  III.A.5.b: Encourage Diversity
Ensure that LCBP and CVNHP programs and grant opportunities are representative of the Basin and its residents, and that traditionally underserved communities are represented within committees of the Program.

Objective III.B: Support water-wise economic development.

Support and inform business practices and economic development that promote clean water across multiple economic sectors.

Strategy Task Area Metrics
III.B.1: Support business innovations that improve water quality. III.B.1.a: Business/Industry Education Outreach
Work with key partners to develop industry-specific outreach.
— Number of businesses partnered with the LCBP
  III.B.1.b: Innovation Development
Provide support to local businesses to develop and showcase new and innovative practices that support clean water.
III.B.2: Support working landscapes that help protect water quality. III.B.2.a: Outreach Assistance to Agriculture
Support farmers’ and foresters’ efforts to share their water quality protection practices.
— Number of farmer-to-farmer education or technical programs supported
  III.B.2.b: Awards Program
Continue and implement new programs that recognize effective practices to protect water quality with a focus on agriculture and community recognition.
III.B.3: Support implementation of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI). III.B.3.a: Awards/Recognition Program
Initiate a program that recognizes effective implementation of GSI.
— Number of GSI projects supported with LCBP funds (corresponds with Clean Water goal)
III.B.4: Coordinate efforts among partners to promote the CVNHP and the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere region as a world-class destination for heritage travelers. III.B.4.a: Promote CVNHP Themes
Develop and maintain a consistent regional brand related to the interpretive themes of the CVNHP.
— Number of grants supporting the CVNHP annual interpretive theme
— Number of multilingual materials developed
— Number of grants supporting sustainable tourism in the CAB region
  III.B.4.b: Web Promotion
Use the CVNHP website to promote the region, including the Biosphere.
  III.B.4.c: Bilingual Services
Support the development of bilingual materials, interpretation, and services.
  III.B.4.d: Welcoming Visitors
Promote the CABN efforts to attract international travelers.
III.B.5: Foster a sustainable relationship between people and the natural and cultural resources of the Biosphere and CVNHP. III.B.5.a: Energy Efficiency
Promote energy efficiency and resource conservation among CVNHP partners.
— Number of collections grants awarded through the CVNHP that address energy efficiency in museums and interpretive centers in the CVNHP
— Number of CABN meetings and events coordinated
— Number of grants awarded that address UN sustainable development goals
  III.B.5.b: Promote Sustainability
Promote sustainable agriculture practices in the CVNHP and in the Biosphere.
  III.B.5.c: CABN Coordination
Fund and promote work CABN coordination efforts.

Objective III.C. Support awareness and conservation of cultural heritage resources

Increase understanding of the region’s cultural and historical resources. Greater understanding leads to greater appreciation, which leads to enhanced stewardship of these resources.

Strategy Task Area Metrics
III.C.1: Build on existing knowledge, make new discoveries of the history, culture, and special resources of the CVNHP, and make this information accessible to all. III.C.1.a: Cultural Resource Support
Support research and interpretation of our past and the cultural heritage resources of the CVNHP.
— Number of CVNHP grants awarded
— Number of new interpretive displays and materials developed
  III.C.1.b: Maintain Cultural Database
Manage a comprehensive online heritage resource database.
  III.C.1.c: Promote Ethnography
Document cultural components of the region, including Abenaki, Mohegan, Mohawk, and Onita cultures, Franco-American culture, and new American communities to research, restore and maintain these cultural identities in the Basin and CVNHP region.
III.C.2: Support the conservation of the historical, archeological, natural, and cultural resources of the CVNHP. III.C.2.a: Build Bridges Between History and Ecology
Utilize the heritage of the Basin to engage stakeholders and foster stewardship of the Basin’s natural resources.
— Number of grants awarded that conserve historical, archeological, natural, and cultural resources
  III.C.2.b: Promote Resource Protection
Develop and implement CVNHP cultural and natural heritage resource protection programs as identified in the CVNHP management plan.
  III.C.2.c: Support the Underwater Preserve System
Support a lake-wide management strategy for underwater cultural heritage resources in the CVNHP.

Objective III.D. Support Lake and Basin recreation.

Foster stewardship of the Basin’s land and waters, and support local economies, by connecting individuals and communities to the landscape.

Strategy Task Area Metrics
III.D.1: Provide sustainable and accessible recreational opportunities for everyone within the CVNHP, with a focus on access for underserved communities. III.D.1.a: Sustainable Recreation
Support initiatives that promote sustainable recreational activities that feature the natural, cultural, and historical resources in the CVNHP, including Lake Champlain Bikeways and the Western New England Greenways.
— Number of grants awarded that support sustainable recreation opportunities
— Number of grants awarded that promote access for underserved communities
  III.D.1.b: Promote Better Access
Increase and improve public access opportunities to the waterbodies of the Basin and interconnected waterways of the CVNHP for diverse recreational activities.
  III.D.1.c: Encourage Sustainable Recreation Practices
Support a public information program that emphasizes recreational ethics, public safety, sustainable use, and stewardship of cultural and natural resources.

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