Annual Report 2020
The Friends of Northern Lake Champlain (FNLC) is a non-profit organization that acts to clean the waters of northern Lake Champlain and its watershed by working collaboratively with citizens, businesses, farmers, and government to reduce land-use pollution.
Our focus is to increase implementation and to encourage local, state, and federal funding necessary to obtain real results. There can be no improvement in Lake Champlain water quality without the on-the-ground projects that improve the waters flowing into the Lake.
FNLC has also continued work on all the projects detailed below in the 2020 Annual Report.
Despite FNLC’s focus on completing on-the-ground projects, Covid-19 had a profound effect on FNLC. Our extraordinarily successful social and athletic fundraising events were cancelled or reduced, and this led to a sharp reduction in our revenues and ability to perform educational outreach. Fortunately, FNLC received PPP and Lake Champlain Basin Program emergency funds and grants to offset a portion of the loss, but the board was forced to make the difficult decision to end the Administrative Assistant position, which has reduced our social media and outreach ability. Another setback occurred, when the Clean Water Board decided to close the LaRosa partnership which supported water sampling. The loss of this funding and a Lake Champlain Basin Program organization capacity grant led to the board’s decision to not apply for an ECO AmeriCorps member for the first time in the seven year history of the Department of Environmental Conservation program.
FNLC received funding from the Lake Champlain Basin Program to partner with Watersheds Consulting Associates to conduct a shoreline assessment along Georgia Shore. A comprehensive review of shoreline usage, erosion, and stormwater management was completed over the summer and fall, and findings were compiled in a data library. Areas of concerns are now in the process of being ranked in order to prioritize future projects. These findings will be presented to the Town of Georgia and the public in the spring 2021.
A similar project to include the shorelines of Swanton and Highgate, VT was funded by the Lake Champlain Basin Program in the fall of 2020. Work on this project is anticipated to start in February 2021 and last into 2022.
Deer Brook Gully Restoration
The first construction project of eight recommended practices was completed on a local business owner’s property adjacent to the Deer Brook Gully at the intersection of State Routes 7 and 104A in Georgia, VT. Funding from VT DEC and Watersheds United Vermont Design and Implementation Block Grant allowed us to install a gravel wetland that will treat approximately 3100 cubic feet of stormwater from the surrounding impervious surfaces. It is estimated that this practice, through sediment sequestration and water treatment, will reduce phosphorus loading by 0.67 pounds per year. In December 2020, FNLC applied for and received a large grant from the VT Department of Environmental Conservation of $400,000 to install the remaining projects recommended in the 2019 Deer Brook Gully Remediation study completed by Stone Environmental. In order to reduce stormwater discharge into the Gully, FNLC will again partner with Stone to install gravel wetlands and improve drainage infrastructure in the VTrans right of way along Route 7. We will also implement in-gully stabilization practices to stop active erosion and bank failures threatening several properties in the area. Work is anticipated to start in the summer of 2021 and last through the 2022 construction season.
Green Stormwater Infrastructure
Using local implementation grant support from the Lake Champlain Basin Program, stormwater retention and treatment infrastructure projects were completed at BFA-Fairfax (rain garden) and Alburgh Community Education Center (in-ditch sediment settling forebay), and a rain barrel system was installed at the Georgia Elementary and Middle School. These functioning practices will be used in STEM education as examples of green stormwater infrastructure and how they provide water quality benefits.
Water Quality Monitoring
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic FNLC continued our water quality monitoring work on the Rock River, funded by the VT DEC. We will continue this work in the upcoming 2021 field season, and hope to expand our reach in the Rock River watershed.
Turning back to the positive side, the continued contributions from our members, the Tyler Place Resort (despite the cancellation of the annual social event) and many municipalities have sustained us. An exciting development was that a new partner, Mill River Brewing, has been donating proceeds from sales of a dedicated product, Lake Dayz pale ale, a rain barrel auction, as well as a n annual Fishing Derby.
The Bike Committee led by John Chesarek put together a condensed version of the Bike for the Lake event which provided a fun and safe day for our loyal biking community in September.
In conclusion, despite the pandemic, the work to clean up the lake has continued, and the organization endures. FNLC highly values its memberships’ loyalty and is looking forward to resumption of our activities and seeing all our members again in the coming year.
As the year ends, please visit our website and learn how you can sign up for 2021 membership and make a lump sum donation or become a subscribing member.
Kent E Henderson, DVM