Category Archives: News

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

Lake Champlain One of Best Smallmouth Bass Lakes in North America

Once again Lake Champlain has received another world-class fishing designation. World Fishing Network, a renowned fishing media outlet, has ranked Lake Champlain as one of North America’s seven best smallmouth bass lakes.

Lake Champlain One of Best Smallmouth Bass Lakes

20.0″ / 3.8 lb. Lake Champlain Smallmouth Bass caught by Robert Finch

First reported on WFN’s website, the ranking,describes Lake Champlain as “perhaps the best lake in all of North America for both quality largemouth and smallmouth bass.”

“This reinforces what Vermonters have known for years, that Lake Champlain has some of the best bass fishing anywhere, Not only does the big lake have some of the best fishing, it also offers some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere, especially at this time of year.” ~  Louis Porter Vermont Fish & Wildlife Commissioner.

Why is Lake Champlain a Top Smallmouth Fishery?

Smallmouth bass can be found throughout the 120-mile lake and have thrived in Lake Champlain’s fertile waters where they have easy access to prime habitat and a large population of forage foods. The rocky bottom composition of Lake Champlain and its healthy populations of yellow perch and crayfish create optimal conditions for smallmouth bass to flourish.

Vermont fisheries biologist Shawn Good, who manages bass populations at the lake’s southern end, is also an avid bass angler, and he agrees with WFN’s assessment.

“The bass population data I’ve collected over the years through electrofishing surveys clearly indicates that bass are abundant, healthy and thriving, Champlain is a true gem, and it’s important to take note that bass fishing is only one of the many world-class fishing opportunities available in the lake. With more than 90 species of fish present, probably no other lake in the country offers so many different species to target.” ~ Shawn Good,Vermont fisheries biologist.

Lake Champlain One of Best Smallmouth Bass Lakes

The full report continues, “The combined fishery makes Champlain a popular destination for the biggest tournament circuits in the U.S., like B.A.S.S. and FLW. Though anglers can try and go for broke and chase monster largemouths, for the most consistent results, finding smallmouth bass schools along the northern part of the lake is the way to go, especially on the Vermont side. Like with Lake Erie, fall is the best time for smallmouth on Champlain, as bass follow the baitfish into the shallows as the water cools.”

Accomplished professional tournament angler Kevin VanDam always looks forward to fishing Lake Champlain.

“What makes Lake Champlain unique is that you can catch fish – both smallmouth bass and largemouth bass alike – just about any way you want to. It’s an amazing fishery with diverse habitat throughout and large, healthy populations of many species of fish. Whether you’re an avid tournament angler or recreational fisherman, you’ll want to experience Lake Champlain fishing. It’s simply that good.”  ~ tournament angler, Kevin VanDam

Other Top Smallmouth Fishing Waters

The other six top smallmouth fisheries according to the WFN article are: Lake Erie (New York, Ontario, Pennsylvania & Ohio) Lake Simcoe (Ontario), Lake St. Clair (Michigan & Ontario), Dale Hollow Lake (Tennessee & Kentucky), Grand Traverse Bay (Michigan), and Sturgeon Bay (Wisconsin). Honorable mentions were given to: Bay de Noc (Michigan),Pickwick Lake (Alabama & Tennessee), Candlewood Lake (Connecticut), Rainy Lake (Ontario), Lake of the Woods (Minnesota & Ontario), Kentucky Lake (Kentucky & Tennessee) and St. Lawrence River (New York, Quebec & Ontario).

To purchase a Vermont fishing license or to find out more about fishing opportunities in Vermont, visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

Volunteers Needed for Turtle Beach Clean Up Day

Vermont Fish & Wildlife is looking for volunteers to help with the annual spiny softshell turtle beach clean up day on Saturday, October 25.

Spiny softshell Turtle Beach Clean Up Day

Spiny softshell turtle

Spiny Softshell Turtle Beach Clean Up

The volunteers will remove vegetation from nesting beaches to prepare turtle nesting sites for next year. They might also find a few hatchlings that have remained in nests underground this late in the year. In addition to threatened spiny softshell turtles, these nest sites are also used by map turtles, painted turtles, and snapping turtles.

“This is a great way to help conserve a threatened species right here in Vermont, It’s also a fun way to learn more about the turtles and to see some recently hatched baby turtles. Last year we had nearly 50 participants, so we’re anticipating a strong turnout again this year.” ~  Steve Parren, Vermont Fish & Wildlife biologist.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife biologist Steve Parren will have hatchling spiny softshell turtles on hand and will talk about his long-term recovery efforts with the species. Some hatchling turtles will be raised in captivity by the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center while they are small and most vulnerable to predation. They will be released back into Lake Champlain next spring.

North Hero Turtle Beach Clean Up Day

What You’ll Need For The Beach Clean Up

Participants  for the Turtle Beach Clean Up Day should arrive at North Hero State Park between 10 and 11 AM., dress in layers of warm clothes, and bring work gloves, a leaf rake, short-handled tools such as trowels, and their own lunch. Families and kids are welcome. The cleanup may run until 4 PM.

How To Get To North Hero State Park

North Hero State Park is located in the Lake Champlain Islands. To get there: follow Route 2 north past Carry Bay in North Hero, turn right on Lakeview Drive (just before Route 2 swings west toward Alburgh), and follow Lakeview until you reach the North Hero State Park entrance sign on the left. Drive to the end of the road always bearing right.

 

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Burlington Waterfront Park Power Lines Coming Down

Power lines coming down from Burlington Waterfront Park

View of Adirondack Mountains from Burlington Waterfront

The view at Burlington’s Waterfront Park will soon be improved!

After 56 years of service on the waterfroint, power lines and utility poles are being removed offering an unobstructed view of New York’s Adirondack Mountains across Lake Champlain.

Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell says the lines are being removed from Waterfront Park due to upgrades to the transmission system throughout Chittenden County. These upgrades have made it possible to reliably operate without the lines marring the scenic waterfront.

Burlington Waterfront Park

City of Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger says the work will enhance the beauty of Waterfront Park and the northern waterfront for the enjoyment of the community and visitors.

 

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EPA Head in VT to Discuss Lake Champlain Clean-up Plans

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in Vermont

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is in Vermont today to talk about plans for cleaning up Lake Champlain.

McCarthy, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is meeting Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and other officials to begin a ‘Call To Action’ meeting with representatives of other federal agencies. The group will develop action plans to reduce pollution and harmful algae blooms in Lake Champlain.

Blue Green Algae & Lake Champlain clean-up

EPA Assistance for Lake Champlain Clean-up

McCarthy is expected to offer technical assistance from the EPA to help the city of Burlington take a more “integrated approach to stormwater and wastewater” projects.

“EPA is committed to helping communities meet their requirements and goals for water projects that benefit public health, the environment, and the local economy, Integrated planning provides the important flexibility that cities and towns need to address water challenges in an efficient and effective manner.” ~ Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator

Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator & Lake Champlain clean-up

Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator

Integrated planning lets communities sequence projects so they can begin the highest priority  ones first. EPA technical assistance will help recipients meet Clean Water Act requirements for water management in a cost-effective and environmentally beneficial way. In the past, EPA, states and municipalities focused on meeting each Clean Water Act requirement separately, an approach that might have kept communities from addressing the most serious water issues first.

Burlington, Vermont Selected for EPA Program

Burlington was one of five communities selected from around the country to participate in the project. The award to Burlington was based on its proposal to evaluate the financial capability to fund an integrated stormwater and wastewater program; to develop criteria for prioritizing community wastewater and stormwater needs based on social, economic and environmental factors; to develop a list of example projects that rank highly based on these criteria; and to evaluate innovative methods for pollutant reduction.

After a meeting at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center in Burlington, McCarthy is going to visit St. Albans Bay, which was particularly hard-struck by blue-green algae this past summer.

Read more info about the EPA technical assistance program.  

Further Reading:

Burlington Bike Path Upgrades Begin

Burlington Bike Path Expansion & Enhancements Break Ground

wider Burlington bike path breaks ground on Governor Peter Shumlin, other State and City of Burlington officials, and bike path stakeholders broke ground in Waterfront Park on the first phase of a multi-year effort to completely rebuild, expand, and Burlington’s eight mile Bike Path. State tax increment financing (TIF) funds are funding the first phase of Burlington’s recreational crown jewel’s rebuilding project: improving user safety, and continuing the annual economic impact benefit for the city.

“The Burlington Bike Path is a jewel in this great City and a treasure for our whole state. The State of Vermont was glad to make TIF funding – a true economic generator – available for the Burlington Bike Path expansion and enhancements to make sure it continues to be a top destination for recreation and a community resource for years to come.” ~ Governor Peter Shumlin

Burlington Bike Path

Vermont Speaker of the House Shap Smith praised Mayor Miro Weinberger and other municipal leaders for making smart investments in Burlington’s future, calling the project “… an excellent example of what municipalities can accomplish when working in partnership with the State. I look forward to engaging with our partners to find more opportunities to improve our downtown destinations.”

“Creation of the bike path nearly 30 years ago was an act of leadership, foresight, struggle, and innovation, and a big step towards making Burlington a great City. It’s now our responsibility to ensure proper, long-term stewardship of this remarkable public resource by improving it to meet the 21st century infrastructure expectations of the people of Burlington and the thousands of visitors who use the path every year.” ~ Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger

The newly-widened path will consist of asphalt (11 feet wide) and two-foot gravel shoulders on either side, will be built to much higher engineering standards than the original bike path, and will yield higher capacity and more varied user types. Jesse Bridges, Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Director said that he is “excited by these ambitious plans. User surveys we have conducted have told us that lake views, the bike path, and beaches are the most important assets we manage. To meet growing demand for these healthy pursuits, we must enhance the quality of our design and continue to increase opportunities.”

Waterfront Park

Improvements to The Burlington Bike Path

  • Wider path: The current path cross-section varies from 8-10 feet, with and without non-formalized shoulders. After rehabilitation,  the path will have the 2-11-2 cross section mentioned above, with full-depth reconstruction, wherever conditions permit.
  • Higher engineering standards: Improved longevity, security, and appearance due to consistent sub-base, uniform top coat, proper slope to better accommodate stormwater flow, formal aggregate shoulders, centerline striping, and delineation paint.
  • Safety enhancements: Intersection improvements and new path alignments,.
  • Improved connections: Between the bike path and city parks, the lake, and cultural resources.
  • Improved Signage: New signage and visual demarcations to enhance the user experience.
  • Pause places: Special places along the path to create more opportunities for enjoyment. These will include rest stops, information stops, and pocket parks; they will offer varied amenities such as information kiosks, seating, drinking fountains, and artwork.

Burlington Bike Path Phase 1 Plans

Phase 1a construction will start now in Waterfront Park, and crews will work their way south to Perkins Pier, meeting substantial completion next spring. The cost of this work is $644,975.

During 2015, Parks and Recreation expects to complete any remaining Phase 1a construction items and begin/complete Phase 1b construction from the south end of the Urban Reserve (adjacent to the Waterfront Access North site) to North Beach. Phase 1b is anticipated to cost more than Phase 1a because there will be more full-depth reconstruction involved.

Total TIF allocation for path rehabilitation from Perkins Pier through the Urban Reserve is $2.84 million for design and construction.

Future Phases of Rehabilitation

The overall cost of the full bike path rehabilitation is estimated between $12-16 million.
Funding of future phases will require more action. The Administration will be coming forward soon with a plan to fund the next phase of rehabilitation to begin in spring 2016.

Burlington Bike Path Timeline

 Burlington Bike Path – repairs 2012-13

Burlington Bike Path – repairs 2012-13

  • 1985-1986: The original bike path was constructed .
  • 2004: Burlington and Colchester Trail Bridge over the Winooski River was built and opened.
  • 2010: Bike Path Task Force recommended a $12-16 million expansion and enhancement plan to bring the bike path up to modern standards.
  • April 2011: Lake Champlain flooding severely damaged five sections of the bike path.
  • 2012: Burlington voters approved up to $2.84 million of TIF investment in the bike path expansion and enhancement from Perkins Pier to the northern boundary of the Urban Reserve. Voters also approved an annual allocation of  approximately $173,000 for maintenance and improvement of the bike path.
  • 2012-2013: major bike path and slope stabilization repairs completed, mostly funded through FEMA.
  • 2012-2014: conceptual design for the entire bike path completed; design development and permitting per construction phase remains ongoing.

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