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Where we Work

Lake Champlain is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the United States, with 435 square miles of surface area, and 587 miles of shoreline. The Lake measures 12 miles at its widest point, and stretches almost 120 miles in length. The Lake also contains more than 70 islands and holds 6.8 trillion gallons of water. 


FNLC works to improve water quality in the Northeast Arm of Lake Champlain and Missisquoi Bay. Our past and current projects are located along the shoreline and the towns in Franklin and Grand Isle Counties.


Lake segments where we work:

  • Northeast Arm - Located entirely within the state of Vermont, the Northeast Arm holds about 13% of the Lake’s volume. This relatively deep Lake segment is dotted with many islands, bays, and shallower areas, creating a favorite area for many boaters and anglers. St. Albans Bay, a large and productive bay, has frequent challenges with cyanobacteria blooms. A small population of invasive water chestnut is successfully managed in this bay. 

  • Missisquoi Bay - This shallow bay spans Québec and Vermont and is fed by the Missisquoi, Pike, and Rock Rivers. The bay contains less than 1% of the Lake’s total volume but 7% of the Lake’s surface area. Elevated nutrient concentrations and seasonal release of legacy phosphorus from lake sediments contribute to frequent cyanobacteria blooms in warm months, sometimes inhibiting recreation opportunities and other uses of the Lake.

Sub-Basins where we work:

A watershed is all the area of land from which precipitation will run off into a particular lake, river, or body of water. Watersheds, or drainage basins, are defined by the high points that surround them. The Lake Champlain Basin is the entire drainage area for Lake Champlain. 

Lake Champlain is unique for many reasons, in part because of the size of its watershed relative to the Lake’s surface area. The total area of the Lake Champlain Basin is 8,234 square miles, which is more than 14x the surface area of the Lake! About 56% of the Basin is in Vermont, 37% in New York, and 7% in Quebec.


The Lake Champlain Basin can be divided into eleven major sub-basins, or watersheds, which are each drained by one or more of the Lake’s major tributaries. The Missisquoi, the Lamoille, and the Direct Lake Basins drain into the northern section of Lake Champlain, where FNLC does its work.

  • The Missisquoi Basin includes the headwaters of the Pike, Rock and Missisquoi Rivers, Lake Carmi, the Trout River, and Black Creek.

  • The Lamoille Basin includes the Lamoille, Lee, Browns River. 

  • The Lake Direct basin includes areas that drain to the lake by smaller tributaries or direct runoff.

Lake Champlain is located on the land of the Abenaki to the east, and on the land of the Mohawk to the west. The Lake has been central to the culture and traditions of Native peoples for centuries. The Mohawk called the Lake Caniadari Guarunte, which means “lake with a bulge in it,” or “door of the country.” The Abenakis used the name Bitawbagok, meaning “waters that lie between,” a reference to it being situated between two mountain ranges.

For more information on Native Land click below!

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