Lake Champlain Steering Committee Allocates 1.8 Milion to Implement Plan

The Lake Champlain Steering Committee recently allocated $1.8 million funds for projects designed to implement Opportunities for Action: An Evolving Plan for the Future of the Lake Champlain Basin released by the Lake Champlain Basin Program in 19996 and approved by Governors Pataki (NY) and Dean (VT). The funds were made available through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“I was very encouraged that the President included the Lake Champlain Basin Program in his 1999 EPA budget request and that we were able to add additional appropriations,” said U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy. Since the Basin Program’s inception in 1990, the NY and VT congressional delegation had to add the money through additional appropriations.

Key elements of the LCBP’s 1999 budget include $141,534 for phosphorus reduction efforts, $241,044 for managing normative nuisance aquatic species and $355,838 for monitoring water quality and ecological systems. Other issues addressed included education and outreach efforts, fish and wildlife management issues including osprey and lamprey, agricultural monitoring, stream projects, the underwater survey and grants for local communities.

“Local groups are key to implementing this plan, so the Steering Committee set aside over $250,000 for local grant programs,” said Buzz Hoerr, Chair of the Vermont Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). “The NY, VT and Quebec CACs provide a voice for citizens issues such as the need for harvesting water chestnuts, improving public access and reducing phosphorus levels.”

“Many citizens would also like to see a joint NY and VT fishing license for Lake Champlain,” said Ron Ofner, Chair of the New York Citizens Advisory Committee. “We realize that there are revenue issues that need to be addressed by the States. The $5,000 allocated this year may be used by New York and Vermont to begin a joint marketing effort explaining the Lake’s fishery.”

“The Lake Champlain Basin Program’s 1999 budget complements and leverages other funds available at the state or local level,” added Stuart Buchanan, Regional Director, New York State DEC in Raybrook, NY. “For example, in the last round of New York’s Bond Act funding, $5 million dollars helped to implement agricultural BMPs and several community based projects.”

Canute Dalmasse, Vermont’s Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation agrees. “The Agency will use some of the LCBP funds in Vermont to supplement a stream stability assessment. Unstable streams can increase flooding, create property damage and cause severe erosion, carrying sediment to Lake Champlain through rivers and streams. The ~LCBP funds will also be used to supplement state funds for controlling water chestnuts in the South Lake.”

State and local projects funded through the Lake Champlain Basin Program, require at least a 25% match.

In addition to the $1.8 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, federal funds for Lake Champlain will also be available through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.