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Looking Back & Looking Forward

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

The Friends of Northern Lake Champlain has had a busy year full of staffing changes, project expansions, and successful community educational programming! We have much to look forward to in this next year as our organization plans to grow and expand our reach. Look at our highlights from this year and our aspirations for the next!


HIGHLIGHTS


New Executive Director – In our national search for a leader who can help bring us to the next level of water quality work in our communities, we found an experienced conservation leader right in Franklin County! Bridget Butler from Saint Albans joined us in September and has been focused on getting to know our work, our partners, and the communities we serve. If you missed the announcement of her hiring, take a look at it by clicking here. She is excited to dig into how to best position the organization moving forward so that we can sustain and expand our work to protect the health of Lake Champlain.



Strengthened our work in the Rock River Watershed – The Rock River Watershed makes up more than 22,743 acres and consists of 37.4 stream miles that winds through farmland and forest in the towns of Highgate and Franklin prior to emptying in the Missisquoi Bay. Our work here focuses on understanding how water is flowing off the land and what it is bringing with it in terms of phosphorus and sediment. This year, we expanded our monitoring work into 10 more sites focusing on Rock River tributaries for 14 sites monitored. Take a look at the interactive StoryMap we created about this project. As we move into 2024, we will analyze the data and look for sites on the ground where landscape improvements are needed to trap nutrients and keep them from running into Lake Champlain.





Representation on our region’s Basin Water Quality Councils – In 2020, the way in which the state of Vermont identifies, and funds water quality projects shifted from being managed solely by the Agency of Natural Resources to the creation of regional Clean Water Service Providers (CWSP) and their oversight bodies known as the Basin Water Quality Councils (BWQC). Friends of Northern Lake Champlain has representation on three of the area BWQCs for the north Lake: the Missisquoi Basin, the Direct Lake, and the Lamoille Basin. By serving on these councils, we are part of the team identifying water quality projects, and we have a voice at the table for how work is prioritized and progresses in each region.




Community Outreach – The Friends of Northern Lake Champlain continues to provide high-quality programming about local water quality challenges for our region's children, adults, landowners, and farmers. This year we successfully promoted the state’s LakeWise program through our Shoreline Social events to the towns of Fairfield, South Hero, and Alburgh. Our Lake Lessons program completed its fifth season, bringing lessons on water quality with the support of multiple local partners to fourth graders from Georgia, Highgate, Swanton, Fairfield, Saint Albans Town, and Saint Albans City. The Wind, Waves, and Variables program reached 155 fifth and sixth graders in Lowell, Richford, Alburgh, North Hero, Montgomery, and Enosburg with the support of the Missisquoi River Basin Association with in-class lessons and two field trips on properties of water, societal and cultural history of the Lake Champlain Basin, geology, and how to be a scientist using observation and critical thinking. Take a look at the interactive StoryMap we made for all these programs.






ASPIRATIONS FOR 2024


As we move into 2024, we have our eyes on several projects and programs that will require a set of staff for the first time in many years. Your support of our organization in the coming year will help us succeed with these next steps in our work for Northern Lake Champlain.


New Project Coordinator – We're incredibly grateful to Alison Spasyk our former Project Coordinator, who saw us through the past two years and landed us multiple grants to support our work. As she transitions to graduate school, we will be hiring a new project coordinator early in 2024 to take on the role of grant writing and tracking all our good work. We also are grateful for the year-plus that Parker Eversoll, our 2022 ECO Americorps member, has spent with us as an assistant to the project coordinator. Parker has been invaluable in helping us transition this fall. THANK YOU BOTH!





Tyler Place event returns – We’re excited to share that in the fall of 2024, we will be hosting another fundraiser and gathering at the Tyler Place in Highgate, Vermont. This event traditionally brought community members and leaders together to celebrate the work being done to help improve the health of Lake Champlain. We can’t wait to gather and celebrate our collective work in 2024!


Completion of Deer Brook project in Georgia - In 2020, FNLC began a project to improve the Deer Brook that flows through Fairfax and Georgia. This sediment impaired stream was suffering from severe erosion. After installing a gravel wetland to absorb stormwater and installing a gully stabilization drainage system we’ll move into the final phase of work for Deer Brook in 2024 to add two catch basins to the site to prevent runoff and capture sediment, phosphorus, and other contaminants.

Completion of the Swanton Town Beach project - In 2021, FNLC selected the Swanton Town Beach as one of the projects that came out of the shoreline assessment done for the towns of Swanton and Highgate. As we move into the final stages of the project in 2024, we’ll be implementing the plan to collect and slowdown stormwater from the nearby road, parking area, and other impervious areas as the site. This will be a great demonstration site visible to the public to learn more about how municipalities can partner with FNLC to slow the flow and reduce phosphorus in Lake Champlain.


New projects in multiple communities – We have several projects entering their second or third year where we’ll see actual changes implemented to improve water quality. Something here about a few of these projects. You can see all our recent projects in the beautiful, interactive StoryMap.

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