Category Archives: News

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

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

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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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VT Fish & Wildlife To Hold Hearings Lake Champlain Sauger Fishing Regulation Change

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department will conduct two public hearings later this month on proposed changes to fishing regulations.

Lake Champlain Sauger Fishing Regulation

Lake Champlain Sauger Fishing Regulation Change

Sauger are a species in decline in Lake Champlain, and would be protected with a requirement that any sauger caught must be immediately released. The sauger is a member of the true perch family, Percidae, and closely resembles the walleye in appearance.

Last month, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) proposed a draft conservation management plan aimed at reestablishing the sauger in New York’s waterways. The last documented sauger captured in New York was in 2010, when a sampling of walleye in Lake Champlain accidentally netted a seven year old female sauger. Before that there was no documented evidence of a sauger caught or seen in 13 years.

Sauger were relatively common in Lake Champlain up to the mid-1980’s and the lake is seen by New York conservation officials as the best hope among waterways.

Challenges for the Sauger restricted access to their spawning destinations and the introduction of zebra mussels. Zebra mussels, an invasive species, clarify the water, and sauger thrive in muddier waters.

Lake Champlain Sauger Fishing Regulation Change

A second proposed change would make permanent the former temporary “Test Water Designation” with restrictions on the Batten Kill and some of its tributaries.

The proposed rule covering both subjects is available on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com) under “Law Enforcement” and “Rules and Proposed Rules.”

The hearings are scheduled as follows:

  • February 24 — Burr & Burton Academy, 57 Seminary Avenue, Manchester at 7:00 p.m.
  • February 25 — Fish & Wildlife Board meeting, Dewey Building, 1 National Life Drive, Montpelier at 6:30 p.m.

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