Category Archives: News

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

Biologists Working to Save Lake Champlain’s Young Island

Biologists Working to Save Lake Champlain’s Young Island

Biologists Working to Save Lake Champlain's Young Island from cormorants

Biologists from Vermont’s Department of Fish & Wildlife have been working to rescue a state-owned island from the brink of destruction by birds.

“It’s quiet compared to the way it used to be here,” said biologist John Gobeille as he stepped from a boat onto Young Island in Lake Champlain. “You used to need earplugs.”

Now grassy and green, Young Island was barren and rocky because its surfaces had been denuded. The island was infested with shrieking ring-billed gulls and cormorants, whose toxic droppings killed vegetation.

Biologists Working to Save Lake Champlain's Young Island from cormorants

“It’s coming back,” Gobeille said, observing plant life on the island.

By applying cooking oil to the gulls’ eggs so they can’t hatch, over the past 15 years the population of ring-billed gulls is less than a tenth of the 15,000 that once dominated the island. They would bully other birds, keeping species away, Gobeille explained.

The species diversity here had declined to only, like, two [bird] species,” Gobeille said.

For cormorants, the oil work, combined with shooting the birds in a prescribed process more than ten years ago, dramatically minimized numbers on Young Island, accorfing to fish and wildlife officials. Visitors to the lake will see cormorants at many other locations on and around the water.

Now, with the gull numbers down on Young Island, Mark Scott, the wildlife director of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, said birds including the black duck and the common tern have been able to nest on the island again. The common tern, despite its name, is listed as a state-endangered species in Vermont.

Scott and Gobeille noted the department has planted trees and ground-covering plants to replace what the invaders killed. Not only would the birds’ acidic waste prevent plants from growing, but the birds would also defoliate trees and shrubs to build nests, Gobeille explained, turning the island into something resembling the surface of the moon.

Despite the turnaround in Young Island’s appearance, there is a lot more habitat restoration work that needs to be done on Lake Champlain. The department said it is currently watching five other state-owned islands, one private island through financial backing of the landowner, and another private island where the state deters birds that may interfere with nesting of the common tern.

Biologists Working to Save Lake Champlain's Young Island from cormorants

Thousands of cormorants are still damaging other land, boaters and fishermen have reported in recent years. Many sportsmen also believe the cormorants are robbing the lake of fish by gobbling up perch and smelt.

Fishermen have long complained about the cormorants, insisting that more needs to be done to control cormorants.

“The challenge comes down to money; you know, economics,” Scott told necn. “People say, ‘Well, why don’t you just let people go out and hunt [cormorants] on their own? Well, they’re not classified as a game species under federal law.”

Even with more challenges ahead, the transformation of Young Island has left the department optimistic that habitat management can work.

Scott said the department does its gull and cormorant work with just over $40,000 in state funding, but to be more effective, the team would need $100,000 in additional monies from federal grants, state appropriations, non-profit support, or other sources.

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Walmart FLW Tour Regular Season Final Tournament Set for Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain to host Walmart FLW Tour regular season final Tournament

2015 Rayovac FLW Series

2015 FLW Series

The 6th and final regular season event of the 21st season of the Walmart FLW Tour, the most competitive circuit in professional bass-fishing, kicks off June 23-26 with the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Champlain presented by General Tire. Hosted by the City of Plattsburgh and the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau, the tournament will feature a full field of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals and co-anglers casting for top awards of up to $125,000 cash in the pro division and up to $25,000 cash in the co-angler division.

This will be the Walmart FLW Tour’s seventh visit to Lake Champlain in its 21-year history. The closely contested Angler of the Year and Rookie of the Year races will be decided, as will the final qualifications for the world championship of bass fishing, the Forrest Wood Cup.

2012 was the last time theTour visited Lake Champlain, and Walmart pro David Dudley of Lynchburg, Virginia, recorded the seventh victory of his career, clinching his third Angler of the Year title and pushing his career earnings in FLW competition to more than $3 million.

“This is going to be an extremely fun tournament,” said Dudley, the all-time FLW leading money winner. “Lake Champlain is one of the best fisheries in the world and we’re hitting it at the prime time. I predict that the winner is going to have to average at least 20 pounds each day and that we’re going to see a four-day winning total of at least 80 pounds.

“You pretty much have two options when you’re going to Champlain – you can dedicate yourself to fishing for smallmouth or largemouth,” Dudley continued. “It seems like the last few times that we have been there, the largemouth has played more of a factor with the top finishers than the smallmouth has, and I think that will likely be the case this year. Champlain is a heckuva smallmouth fishery, but I think the winner is going to have to key on the largemouth.”

Smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass

Dudley said that a good portion of the anglers competing would make the 70-mile run south to the Ticonderoga-area of the lake to target largemouth in the plentiful grass.

“There is a lot of good grass in both the northern and the southern ends of the lake, but more of the population of big largemouth are down south. I think that’s where the tournament is going to be won.

“I think three baits will likely be the key – a ChatterBait, a frog, and flipping creature baits,” Dudley continued. “Those three baits seem to win everything there and I assume they’ll be strong players in this event as well. The weights are going to be big and you can bet that we’re going to see a lot of fish caught – no surprise for Champlain.”

northern bass

 

Lake Champlain Walmart FLW Tour location

Anglers will take off from the Plattsburgh City Marina located at 5 Dock St. in Plattsburgh at 6:30 a.m. EDT each day of competition. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-ins will be held at the City Marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at the Crete Memorial Civic Center, located at 4 Beach Road, but will begin at 4 p.m.

Fans will also be treated to the FLW Expo Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Civic Center before the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes a 100-yard Lew’s Casting Lane, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by FLW sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.

As part of the FLW Tour’s community outreach initiative, FLW Tour anglers will visit patients at Meadowbrook Healthcare Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, located at 154 Prospect Avenue in Plattsburgh on Wednesday, June 22 from 10-11:30 a.m. Anglers will visit with guests, pose for selfies, sign autographs and share fishing stories in a rewarding experience for both the patients and the anglers.

FLW Foundation’s Unified Youth Fishing Derby

The  FLW Foundation’s Unified Youth Fishing Derby will be held at the Wilcox Dock located at 90 Cumberland Ave., in Plattsburgh Saturday, June 25, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. The event is hosted by FLW Foundation pro Cody Kelley along with other FLW Tour anglers, and is free and open to area youth 18 years of age and younger and Special Olympics athletes. Event goodie bags will be awarded to the first 50 participants who sign up. Rods and reels are available for use, but youth are encouraged to bring their own if they own one. All bait is donated by the DMF Bait Company.

Coverage of the Lake Champlain tournament will premiere in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) Oct. 12 from 1 p.m.-2 p.m. EDT. The Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.

In FLW Tour competition, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. The 2016 Forrest Wood Cup will be on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Alabama, Aug. 4-7 and is hosted by the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com.

 

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Free Fishing Days

New York Free Fishing Days

Free Fishing Days

Saturday-Sunday, June 25-26 are Free Fishing Days, and on those dates anyone can fish the waters of New York State without possessing a fishing license. These days are ideal times for regularly licensed anglers to introduce or reintroduce family, friends, and others to the beloved activity of sport fishing.

Future Free Fishing Days in the state include Veteran’s Day on November 11, 2016 and mid-winter days on February 18-19, 2017.

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New Burlington Marina project headed to City Council

New Burlington Marina project headed to City Council

New Burlington Marina project headed to City Council

Available boat slips are at a premium in Burlington harbor.

Burlington’s waterfront could see a change.
To the north of Burlington’s Waterfront Park there’s some mostly city-owned land, that might soon be providing 100+ new boat docking spaces, a public park, a parking lot, and other improvements.

The Burlington City Council’s Board of Finance subcommittee voted unanimously last Monday night to send a development agreement to the full council for a June 27th vote.

Included improvements for the marina project are :

  1. 160 boat docks, with about 60 of them staying open for passing boaters.
  2. Boat launching facility that could double as event space.
  3. A floating breakwater.
  4. A “water taxi” stand.
  5. Fuel docks.
  6. A park that is of “equivalent quality” to Waterfront Park.
  7. A temporary parking plaza.

New Burlington Marina project headed to City Council

The new Burlington Marina project would fall under tax increment financing (TIF), a way for government to incentivize development where the private sector might otherwise avoid spending money. A TIF district would draw money from property taxes.

In this case, four parts of the project are eligible for a slice of the $500,000 the city has set aside for TIF projects. The public park and parking lot both could be funded halfway by TIF money. The parking plaza, along with environmental impact assessments and soil testing, are eligible to be paid for completely by the tax increment financing.

Ghosts and Legends of Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain is located between New York’s majestic Adirondacks and Vermont’s famed Green Mountains. Yet despite the beauty of this region, it has been the site of dark and mysterious events; it is not surprising that some spirits linger in this otherwise tranquil place. Fort Ticonderoga saw some of early America’s bloodiest battles, and American, French and British ghosts still stand guard.
Champlain’s islands–Stave, Crab, Valcour and Garden–all host otherworldly inhabitants, and unidentified creatures and objects have made appearances on the water, in the sky and in the forests surrounding the lake.
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