Category Archives: News

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

Vermont Free Fishing Day 2017

Grand Isle Family Fishing Festival

Vermont Free Fishing Day 2017

Give fishing a try during Vermont’s Free Fishing Day 2017 at the Grand Isle Family Fishing Festival!

Saturday, June 10, 2017
9:00am to 3:00pm
Ed Weed Fish Culture Station,
14 Bell Hill Rd, Grand Isle, VT

Give fishing a try during Vermont’s Free Fishing Day 2017 at the Grand Isle Family Fishing Festival!

Vermont Free Fishing Day 2017 lets both resident and nonresident anglers fish in Vermont for the day without a license.

The Grand Isle Family Fishing Festival is designed for young anglers and families offering basic fishing instruction and the chance for kids to catch big trout in the hatchery pond. The festival is free, open to the public and no fishing experience or equipment is needed.

Saturday, June 10, 2017
9:00am to 3:00pm
Ed Weed Fish Culture Station,
14 Bell Hill Rd, Grand Isle, VT

The event features a series of fishing skills learning stations, including knot-tying, fish identification, line casting, hook setting, fish cleaning, and more. After kids and families complete several stations they will be issued a loaner fishing rod and bait and given a chance to practice their skills by fishing the hatchery pond, stocked with some very impressive trout.

For more information contact the Ed Weed Fish Culture Station at 802-372-3171


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Clean Water Funding Opportunities

Clean Water Funding Opportunities

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Clean Water Initiative Program recently released three Requests for Proposals (RFP) for clean water funding, including Ecosystem Restoration Grants. Details are outlined below and posted on the DEC’s Clean Water Initiative Grants webpage.

 

Ecosystem Restoration Grants support the design and construction of water pollution abatement and control projects that target nonpoint sources of pollution. See the DEC Watershed Projects Database for possible projects. All other projects included in applications must be added to the database before the application deadline. Proposed projects must be discussed with your regional Basin Planner.

  • Release date: May 23rd
  • Application due date: July 6th

A detailed application manual is available online and provides step-by-step instructions to apply for funding.

Ecosystem Restoration Grant applicants are also encouraged to attend or view the webinars being offered:

  • Thursday, May 25th, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm: Presentation on key changes to the RFP, including application types, project categories, and reporting processes, as well as a question and answer session. The presentation and webinar recording (YouTube) are now available online.
  • Tuesday, June 13th, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm: Question and answer session for grant applicants. Partners can attend in-person in Montpelier (limited seating is available) or online via Skype for Business. For more information and to RSVP if attending in-person, please contact Marli Rupe at (802) 490-6171.

 Clean Water Funding Opportunities.  Rumney School After

An Ecosystem Restoration Grant funded project at Rumney School in Middlesex, completed by the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District (WNRCD), reduces stormwater runoff from the school grounds, which had caused erosion and sediment pollution in nearby Martin Brook. The project also serves as an outdoor classroom for students. (Photo Credit: WNRCD)

 Clean Water Funding Opportunities.  Rumney School Before

Before the project was installed.

 

Clean Water Block Grants support statewide partner(s) to administer completion of “construction-ready” clean water improvement projects identified on the DEC Watershed Projects Database “Go List.” RFP Questions and Answers are now posted online.

  • Release date: May 23rd
  • Application due date: June 5th

 

River Corridor Conservation Easement Grants support implementation of priority river corridor easements to reduce flood hazards, and improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

  • Release date: May 11th
  • Application due date: June 21st

For more information on any of these grant opportunities, please contact Marli Rupe at (802) 490-6171.

Lake Champlain

This 128-page softcover book features stunning historical images from the archives of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and other regional collections, and includes chapters on Patriotic Sites and Celebrations; Commerce in the Canal Era; The Age of Steam; Crossing Lake Champlain; Recreational Boating; Summer and Summer Folk; Hunting and Fishing; and Winter. ‘Lake Champlain’ tells the story of this historic, busy commercial corridor and recreational destination.

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Alewives threaten Champlain salmon restoration

Alewives threaten Champlain salmon restoration

Invasive species causing a thiamine deficiency in salmon, hindering their ability to reproduce naturally

Alewives threaten Champlain salmon restoration

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Zach Eisenhauer holds 11-pound salmon he trapped on the Boquet River during a fish survey.

For years, biologists have worked to improve conditions for the native fish in Lake Champlain. They’ve removed old dams to help spawning salmon migrate up rivers and reduced the population of sea lampreys that prey on salmon and lake trout.

Now scientists are trying to fully understand how salmon are impacted by alewives, an invasive species that has become one of the main sources of food for salmon.

Alewives threaten Champlain salmon restorationAlewives were first discovered in Lake Champlain’s Missisquoi Bay in 2003. Since then, their numbers have skyrocketed. They’ve replaced native rainbow smelt as the main forage fish for Lake Champlain’s predators, and they’re likely here to stay.

“There’s not much we can do to manage alewives,” said Lance Durfey, a fisheries manager with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “They are going to do what they are going to do, and the fish are going to use them as a prey base.”

 

Alewives, which are found from Newfoundland to North Carolina, are a type of herring that grows up to fifteen inches in length. They dwell in the Atlantic Ocean and spawn in coastal rivers. They are categorized as a “species of concern” (slightly at risk) by the National Marine Fisheries Service in their native habitat, but their numbers are high in many lakes where they aren’t native.

 

Alewives threaten Champlain salmon restoration

Lake Champlain alewife die-off

 

Alewives have been spreading to inland lakes, particularly the Great Lakes, for decades. They occasionally die in large numbers when spawning in non-native waters in the spring. At times, the shores on Lake Champlain have been lined with hundreds of the dead fish. Reasons for these die-offs may include weakness from a lack of winter food and the temperature shock of moving from deep, cold water to warmer spawning waters.

 

Alewives threaten Champlain salmon restoration

Lake Champlain alewife die-off

 

Lake Champlain is stocked with salmon, but has not had a self-sustaining population for two hundred years. Scientists are trying to nurture the population back to health, but alewives undermine those efforts by interfering with the reproductive cycle of salmon.

Alewives posess an enzyme that kills thiamine, or vitamin B1, in fish that prey on them. Since salmon consume a lot of alewives, scientists say, they end up with a deficiency of thiamine, or vitamin B1. As a result, salmon have trouble reproducing and maintaining a population naturally.

Salmon that eat alewives may grow large and appear healthy, but a shortage of vitamin B1 in their eggs leads to problems for hatchlings.

“They have development abnormalities associated with the low vitamin B1, and they can’t orient very well in the water column and they get very lethargic,” said Bill Ardren, a senior biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “It can cause really high mortality.”

Ardren said the deficiency can be overcome in hatcheries by bathing salmon eggs in a thiamine solution for thirty minutes.

Ardren also said there is evidence that low thiamine levels impact spawning adult salmon. A recent study on the Boquet River in New York showed that spawning salmon injected with thiamine were more persistent in attempts to get up cascades to their spawning ground than those salmon injected with water, which acted as a placebo.

Some salmon may be able to overcome the thiamine deficiency and the species may evolve to cope with it. Last summer college students found evidence that salmon were reproducing in the watershed.

He also said that scientists have noticed a lot of “redds,” places where salmon lay eggs in gravel, in the Winooski River in Vermont and the Boquet River. “But we are not seeing as many fry [young fish] come out of those redds as we would expect,” Ardren said.

That could be a consequence of the vitamin B1 deficiency. Or it could be the result of another problem yet undiscovered. That seems to be the case with lake trout, another large predator that eats alewives, according to Ellen Marsden, a professor at the University of Vermont at Burlington, who has studied the lake trout in Lake Champlain for twenty years.

She recently challenged the longstanding theory that alewives are interfering with the reproduction of lake trout, noting that it had been tested in hatcheries but not in the wild. “Our new hypothesis is that lake trout could get plenty of thiamine in their diet to make up stuff they are missing in the wild before they need it,” she said.

She said lake trout may get enough thiamine from zooplankton, a type of alga, soon after emerging from eggs, offsetting the deficiency at birth. She noted that the number of juvenile lake trout in the lake seems to have increased in the last few years.

 

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Vermont Invasive Patroller (VIP)

Vermont Invasive Patroller (VIP) Training Workshops

Vermont Invasive Patroller (VIP)

VIP surveyors on Lake Memphremagog in 2016

Vermont Invasive Patrollers (VIPs) monitor water bodies for new introductions of invasive species and report their findings to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). VIPs play a vital role in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species in Vermont. The main duties of a VIP include surveying a local lake or pond for aquatic invasive species at public access areas, inlets, and outlets, as well as submitting suspicious samples to DEC for identification.

Vermont’s DEC encourages any and all who are interested in becoming a VIP to join them for their training workshops. VIP workshops cover such fundamentals as the difference between native, exotic, nuisance and invasive species; how invasive species are introduced and established; how to differentiate native aquatic plants and animals from their invasive lookalikes (plants will be emphasized); and how to conduct surveys for aquatic invasive species in lakes and ponds.

June 9th Training Session

June 10th Training Session

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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NY DEC Asks Anglers to Avoid Spawning Lake Sturgeon

DEC Asks Anglers to Avoid Spawning Lake Sturgeon While Fishing in New York Waters

State-Led Lake Sturgeon Recovery Efforts Show Signs of Success

Sturgeon DEC Asks Anglers to Avoid Spawning Lake Sturgeon While Fishing in New York Waters

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is asking anglers to avoid spawning lake sturgeon. Typically during this time of year, DEC receives multiple reports of lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) caught by anglers fishing for walleye and other species.

Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC and our partners are engaged in ongoing efforts to restore lake sturgeon to New York’s waters. Encounters between anglers and lake sturgeon are becoming increasingly common and we ask anglers to help protect these impressive fish during this critical period in their recovery.”

Lake Sturgeon are a threatened species in New York. Therefore, there is no open fishing season and possession is prohibited. Anglers are likely to encounter sturgeon during the spring when the fish gather to spawn on clean gravel or cobble shoals and in stream rapids. Sturgeon spawn in New York State in May and June when water temperatures reach 55 to 64°F. Anglers should not intentionally target these protected fish. If an angler catches a sturgeon, they should fish another area or change fishing gear to avoid catching another.

DEC Asks Anglers to Avoid Spawning Lake Sturgeon While Fishing in New York Waters

 

Anglers who unintentionally hook one should follow these practices to make sure the fish are returned to the water unharmed:

  • Avoid bringing the fish into the boat if possible;
  • Use pliers to remove the hook. Sturgeon are almost always hooked in the mouth;
  • Always support the fish horizontally. Do not hold sturgeon in a vertical position by their head, gills, or tails;
  • Never touch their eyes or gills; and
  • Minimize their time out of the water and return the fish to the water immediately once freed from fishing gear.

 

Stocking is a key strategy in lake sturgeon recovery. DEC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have periodically stocked young sturgeon into various waters of New York since 1995. Adult lake sturgeon are captured in the St. Lawrence River and their fertilized eggs reared at DEC’s Oneida Hatchery and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Genoa National Fish Hatchery. These fish are raised to a size of about six inches before stocking, which dramatically increases their chances of survival in the wild. Lake sturgeon are New York’s largest freshwater fish and can grow up to seven feet long and weigh more than 200 pounds.

“Lake sturgeon stocked in the 1990s are just beginning to contribute to the natural reproduction,” said Lisa Holst, Rare Fish Unit Leader for DEC. “Restoration of rare species takes time, but due to good science, patience and partnerships these great fish are making a comeback.”

In the wild, male lake sturgeon take eight to 12 years to mature, and females take 14 to as many as 33 years. In 2016, field biologists from DEC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service captured lake sturgeon of wild origin from five different year classes from the Oswegatchie River. In addition, research biologists from Cornell’s Biological Field Station on Oneida Lake captured three wild lake sturgeon from two different year classes in 2016. They had previously captured a single wild sturgeon in 2013. “All of these captures indicate to us we are on the right track,” said Ms. Holst.

An update to the lake sturgeon recovery plan is projected to be finalized in late 2017.

For more information on lake sturgeon, visit DEC’s website, the U.S. Fish and wildlife site at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/sturgeon/ (leaves DEC’s website) or contact DEC’s Rare Fish Unit Leader, Lisa Holst at (518) 402-8897.


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