Category Archives: News

News and events around the Lake Champlain Valley of northern New York and Vermont and southern Quebec

LCBP Awards $662,471 to Local Groups and Municipalities

The Lake Champlain Basin Program awards $662,471 in grants to communities and organizations in Vermont and New York for implementing projects to improve the future of the Lake Champlain watershed.

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, whose support was essential in securing the funds for the grants, commented, “These grants to scores of communities, watershed groups and other organizations on both sides of the Lake are so important in promoting and protecting our ‘Great Lake.’ Supporting these crucial efforts at the local level is exactly why it’s always among my highest priorities to bring funds to our Lake Champlain work.”

“Local NGOs and municipalities will use these funds to complete projects in every corner of the Lake Champlain watershed,” said Bill Howland, LCBP Director. “Local watershed groups also serve as strong community leaders delivering an appropriate blend of persuasion, education and, now and then, kicking butt at the local level, to prevent phosphorus and other pollutants from entering the watershed, said Howland. “Some partner up with public works crews to identify specific opportunities to prevent erosion from ditches and municipal parking lots. Other watershed groups help landowners to restore eroded streambanks through riparian plantings, reduce contamination at local beaches, and create programs that help students understand watershed problems and implement solutions.”

Denise Smith, Executive Director of the Friends of Northern Lake Champlain, said “Thanks to LCBP, we will be able to implement a water conservation project at a key location in St. Albans Town, and we will be able to implement a direct outreach and education program about water quality to small and backyard farmers in our region. The partnership between LCBP and small local watershed groups in the Lake Champlain Basin is critical to the success of the Lake Champlain clean-up efforts and improving water quality in the State of Vermont.”

The LCBP grant searchable database summarizes all of the previous grant awards through the LCBP. Last year, for example, the Town of Moriah, NY used LCBP funds to stabilize an eroding shoreline in the Bulwagga Bay Campground where fine, sandy material would not readily support vegetative growth and was subject to severe erosion. Funds were used to create one of four engineered berms, 75 feet long, that contain soil amendments, trees, shrubs, and grass to stabilize the shoreline. “This area will now create habitat for wildlife, and the shade generated from the trees when they mature will benefit fish and other water organisms,” said Garrett Dague, Essex County Office of Community Resources. “This stabilization project was necessary to maintain a functional campground and public recreational facility, and will ultimately benefit the near-shore aquatic environment.”

With the Lake Champlain watershed containing thousands of miles of streambanks, including more than 680 main-stem miles along the largest rivers alone, a great deal of work still needs to be done. The LCBP encourages projects that promote citizen action to fix local problems such as stormwater runoff, improve recreational access, and proactively work to reduce the spread of aquatic nuisance species.
The total of all requests, some $1,081,635, indicates the very strong interest and need for local projects in the Lake Champlain Basin. The 68 grants to be awarded will support projects in four categories: Pollution Prevention and Habitat, Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention, Education and Outreach, and Organizational Support. The latter category supports local watershed groups for basic operating functions such as developing their websites and increasing their capacity to offer technical support on water quality issues. Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) grants totaling $22,500 were also awarded. The CVNHP grants will support three projects in which youth will assist in developing interpretive, non-motorized water trails.

The grants were supported with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and National Park Service funds. This year, the Lake Champlain Basin Program requested assistance from 26 members of the public, representing a wide diversity of watershed interests, to carefully review and rank the applications before making grant funding recommendations to the LCBP’s Executive Committee. Since 1992, the LCBP has awarded more than $6.5 million to 918 projects in New York and Vermont in the competitive Local Grants programs. Funded projects cover all actions in the Lake Champlain management plan Opportunities for Action.

Click Here to View Awarded Grants 

Ice Shanties Must Be Removed Before Ice Weakens

Ice Shanties Must Be Removed by March 29th

Ice Shanties Must Be Removed Before Ice Weakens

Ice Shanties Must Be Removed

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department reminds ice-anglers to remove their fishing shanties from lakes and ponds before March 29.

Vermont state law requires that all fishing shanties be removed before the ice becomes unsafe or the ice loses its ability to support the shanty out of the water, or by the last Sunday of March, whichever comes first (this year, the last Sunday is the 29th).

All fishing shanties are also required to have the name and address of the owner attached.

Chief Game Warden Jason Batchelder said, “ice conditions can deteriorate quickly with warmer weather, so we urge owners of shanties to get them off the lakes while it is still safe to be on the ice. The law exists to help ensure that shanties don’t become a boating hazard and create debris that will wash up on shore.”

Fines for leaving a fishing shanty on the ice can be up to $1,000, and shanties may not be left at state fishing access areas.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department

Other Lake Champlain Fishing Articles:

Plattsburgh City Marina Plans

Plattsburgh City Marina PlansThis spring the city of Plattsburgh, NY will have some international help to open a marina.

Despite the chill of mid-winter, Plattsburgh is already planning for the upcoming boating season on Lake Champlain with a new Plattsburgh City marina plan. City councilors recently accepted a proposal from Navtours USA to staff the decks this summer for the city.

A year ago the City Council rejected a plan that would have turned over the entire operation of the marina to Navtours, a Montreal-based marina company that also rents boats on Lake Champlain. The newly approved plan calls for the marina at the Dock Street Landing to be run by the Plattsburgh recreation department with staff at at contracted through Navtours.

“This is a brand new arrangement, it’s a brand new facility, the city’s never operated a marina before. We have had the space on the water for a very long time… What we’re striving for is world class customer service, to be able to give the best impression of our city possible.” ~ Steve Peters, Plattsburgh City superintendent of recreation.

Plattsburgh City Marina Plans

Lake Champlain off the Dock Street Landing in Plattsburgh, NY

The Navtours staffers will provide bilingual service to all customers since each employee is required to speak both french and English. By hiring Navtours USA to run the decks, the city expects to provide the best service to both local customers and visitors from Quebec.

“Navtours USA was going to be on the docks anyway, so really we reached an agreement so their deckhands would be our deckhands, and their supervisor will also be our supervisor. But it’s a much different operation that what we contemplated last year.” ~ Plattsburgh Mayor James Calnon

The New Plattsburgh City Marina

The City Council agreed to spend $650,000 for the new docks. The project will be funded through a $100,000 grant, received last year; the balance to be borrowed. An existing building will be renovated to feature a welcome desk, as well as other conveniences for customers.

The city will install docks with 34 boat slips, able to accommodate boats up to 40′ long, and 25 moorings. The rate for boat slips at the new Plattsburgh City marina is $82 per lineal foot of boat length.

Plattsburgh City Marina Plans“If Lake Champlain’s a super highway, this is the off-ramp. We don’t provide gasoline, we don’t provide a ship store, we don’t provide a full service restaurant, we don’t provide a whole bunch of things that a normal marina might. We really just want to be the destination,” ~ Mayor James Calnon

Navtours will operate the marina during the established boating season, May 15 to Oct. 4. In addition to staffing the marina, Navtours will also provide 12 charter sail boats available for use by the general public.

Although the marina will be operating near another local boat deck, Mayor Calnon hopes that the arrangement will bring more business to the city rather than compete with existing businesses. 

City officials expect the marina will be ready in mid-May, although the official season begins in June.

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VT Fish & Wildlife Expanding 2 Wildlife Management Areas in Addison County

 

VT Fish & Wildlife Dept. Adds 95 Acres to Wildlife Management Areas (WMA’s)

Two northern Addison County Wildlife Management Areas have recently been expanded by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. Lower Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area in Ferrisburgh added 75 acres of previously posted land, and Lewis Creek Wildlife Management area in Starksboro added 20 acres of donated land.

VT Fish & Wildlife Expanding 2 Wildlife Management Areas in Addison County

Osprey flying over Lower Otter Creek WMA-
one of two wildlife Management Areas recently expanded by Vermont Fish & Wildlife

Lower Otter Creek WMA added 75 acres to the existing 738-acre property. The WMA consists largely of wetlands and floodplain forest near the mouth of Otter Creek. These wetlands and floodplain forests serve not only as quality waterfowl habitat, but also help to control flooding and improve water quality in Lake Champlain by mitigating the effects of nutrient loading into the lake.

The new acquisition opens up additional opportunities for bird-watchers and hunters to access land, as the new property had been posted against all access. The property contains deer wintering habitat and is considered high-quality habitat for the federally endangered Indiana bat.

“We’re excited to continue to expand Lower Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area, which is consistently a favorite destination for Vermont hunters and anglers. In addition to being popular with wildlife enthusiasts, protecting these forests and wetlands goes a long way towards improving flood resiliency and cleaning up Lake Champlain.”  ~ Jane Lazorchak, land acquisition coordinator for Vermont Fish & Wildlife.

About Lower Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA)

Composed of 813 acres of wetland and floodplain forest near the mouth of Otter Creek in Ferrisburg, Vermont, the WMA is owned by the State of Vermont and managed by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

Boat access is via Otter Creek or Lake Champlain. There is a State boat access on Fort Cassin Road. Otter Creek is navigable by motorboat for several miles, as far as the falls in Vergennes. There is walk-in access for the parcel bordering Sand Road.

More Information and WMA map available at: Lower Otter Creek WMA

Another recent acquisition was the addition of 20 acres to the Lewis Creek WMA in Starksboro. Although small in size, the parcel contains three tributary streams of Lewis Creek and is mostly made up of mature hardwood forest. This recent addition is the result of a donation of land by two local landowners.

About Lewis Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA)

Starksboro is located in west central Vermont. Its 2,020 acres range from East Mountain to the top of Hillsboro Mountain, with elevations ranging from 900 to 2,500 feet. It is home to one branch of the headwaters of Lewis Creek.

Lewis Creek WMA is located mostly on the western slope of a small range of mountains that form the eastern side of the Lewis Creek Valley. It also extends east over the top of the ridge into the Huntington River drainage. In 2000, the 2,020-acre Lewis Creek WMA was expanded and connected with Huntington Gap WMA – forming a large contiguous tract of public land.

The State of Vermont owns the property and the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department manages it. There are parking lots at the tops of Little Ireland Road and Hillsboro Road. Hillsboro Road is suitable for four-wheel drive vehicles only.

More Information and WMA map available at: Lewis Creek WMA 

“We are pleased to accept this generous donation and thank these landowners for helping to preserve the future of Vermont’s wildlife and open spaces,” said Lazorchak.

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Ticonderoga Gas Pipeline Dead

Ticonderoga Gas Pipeline Dead

A number of news organizations are reporting that the planned extension of a natural gas pipeline to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga has been scrapped.

Ticonderoga Gas Pipeline Dead

The Vermont Gas Systems pipeline had been proposed to run from Cornwall, VT to Ticonderoga, NY.
Map: Addison County Regional Planning Commission

The project was to carry natural gas through a pipeline under Lake Champlain from Vermont to the New York shore, providing a lower-cost, lower carbon emission form of energy to the Ticonderoga, New York plant, one of the biggest employers in the Adirondack Park.

According to a statement published by the Burlington Free Press, Vermont Gas officials suggested that rising costs had derailed the project.  “Our updated estimate for Phase 2 is now $105 million, compared to $74.4 million as presented to the Public Service Board last August,” said Jim Sinclair,  Vice-President for system expansion at Vermont Gas.

The project faced stiff opposition from some Vermont residents who felt that the pipeline violated their property rights and posed safety concerns, without little financial benefit to their communities.

In 2003, IP spokeswoman Donna Wadsworth described the pipeline as a significant boost for the mill. “We look at natural gas as being a cleaner energy, an opportunity to reduce our greenhouse gases.  So for us it’s a game-changing project,” she said.

“We haven’t seen the details behind the cost escalation. We do know from VT Gas that construction costs have gone up. Legal costs have gone up. Right-of-way costs have gone up. Overhead costs have gone up. So just across the board I think they saw an escalation of costs for the project.” ~ Donna Wadsworth, IP spokeswoman 

Wadsworth called the rising price tag a “setback,” but she said the company still plans on bringing natural gas into the mill. It’s just going to come from somewhere else. She said IP plans to truck in compressed natural gas from nearby energy companies.

This represents the latest unsuccessful effort by International Paper to lower energy costs at the mill.  IP had also proposed burning waste tires in Ticonderoga to generate energy, a proposal that also faced significant opposition among Vermonters.

Rising costs have also raised questions about which sections of the pipeline are to be built on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain.

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