Photo by Trip Kinney.
Photo by Jessica Rossi.
Photo by Lisa Liotta.
Photo by Carolyn Bates.
Photo by Carolyn Bates.
Photo by Carolyn Bates.
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We saw a lot of volatility in conditions this week on Lake Champlain. Heavy rains flushed things out in some areas and in others provided additional nutrients to fuel cyanobacteria growth. Blooms showed up along the New York shoreline, in St. Albans Bay, Missisquoi Bay and along the Burlington and South Burlington shorelines and at Vermont inland waterways of Bald Hill Pond and Shelburne Pond. We also received word that two dogs recently died due to ingesting cyanobacteria from a private pond in Vermont.  Please remind dog owners to be vigilant about protecting their pets and keep them away from water with cyanobacteria. 

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We had over 150 water quality observations from Lake Champlain and inland waterway monitors this week! Most were of good conditions but cyanobacteria was reported from Lake Champlain sites in Malletts Bay, St. Albans Bay and Missisquoi Bay. You’ll find further information and links below about cyanobacteria and how to recognize and report it. We’ve also included a photo of a mystery phenomena we are trying to identify (stay tuned for results next week) and a picture of the invasive fishhook waterflea. Populations of this aggressive, predatory zooplankton have increased dramatically since they were first discovered in Lake Champlain last September. 

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We had reports from 135 different sites this week with low alert sitings of cyanobacteria from Lake Champlain’s Missisquoi Bay, St. Albans Bay and Knapp Pond in Cavendish, VT. High alert bloom conditions persisted at Outer Malletts Bay on June 26 and 27 and improved to low alert conditions on Friday. Happily, most other monitors reported good conditions. 

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This article is a continuation of the fall 2018 article on raising Monarch butterflies for the fall migration. Both articles were written by Laura Pratt, LCC’s current ECO AmeriCorps Education & Outreach Coordinator, who raised monarchs in her home last year. Monarch butterflies are important pollinators in the Lake Champlain watershed. They rely on milkweed during their caterpillar stage – a plant which is growing scarce with an increase in urbanization and pesticide use. However, you can make a difference by planting native varieties of milkweed in your garden, encouraging your town to replace lawn with pollinator gardens where possible, and even by raising monarch butterflies yourself! 

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Grass is the largest irrigated crop in the United States. It covers city parks, suburban lawns, and wide-open rural fields. Unfortunately, grass can be a major source of fertilizer runoff. While the best way to slow rainwater down and allow pollutants to settle out is to plant native grasses, shrubs, and trees instead of the traditional lawn, there are still things you can do to make your lawn green, healthy, and watershed friendly. 

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Help assess Lake Champlain water conditions around the lake. Complete our cyanobacteria monitor interest form if you're interested in monitoring or want to attend a training session to learn more about the lake. Feel free to share this invite with other lake lovers.  

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Spring isn’t just a time when trees and flowers are coming alive – plants are also opening up throughout the ponds, lakes, and waterways. While aquatic plants may look similar to their land-bound counterparts, they have evolved to endure an environment where light is often scarce and concentrations of atmospheric gases are low. These adaptions are clearly displayed in the variations between aquatic leaves. 

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Soil isn’t just the dirt we might think of when we wash our hands or take our shoes off at the door. Healthy soil is alive – it’s full of layered root systems, microbial communities, organic matter, worms, bugs, and fungi. It’s an entire ecosystem that powers all life above it. It can sequester carbon, hold water, and support healthy plant life  – all of which are vital to turning the tide on climate change. And, most importantly for Lake Champlain’s water quality, soil with just a 1% increase in organic matter in the top six inches can hold over 20,000 gallons of water per acre. 

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Walk, run, hike, bike in the great outdoors. Breath some fresh air, get a little dirty or wet, take in the sunshine – or the rain (or snow), watch the stars. Commune with nature. Getting out into the greenery is known to brighten moods and improve health. To celebrate this year's Earth Day LCC has several ideas for going all out to enjoy and protect our environment!

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Nestled between the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains, Lake Champlain is no stranger to cold, snowy winters. Wild ice – ice which forms naturally on lakes and ponds – is a special attribute of northern climes. Ice skating, skiing, show-shoeing, kiting, and fishing all rely on a thick layer of ice forming during the winter months. However, thaws can happen at any time during the ice season, and with climate change winter temperatures are becoming more unpredictable. Learn more about the stages of a thaw on lake ice, and how to stay safe throughout the winter. 

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LCC is looking to expand our photo stock of pictures for our articles, slideshows, social media, and website, and we need your help to do it! Whether it’s covered in ice or reflecting the summer sky, Lake Champlain is a stunning part of the natural landscape. From a beautiful vista, an unusual water phenomenon, or people exploring the lake, we welcome all of your photos. Submit your pictures of life on and around the water (swimming, fishing, skating, boating, natural history and more!) and help us share images of Lake Champlain in all its moods and magic.  

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Do you own property along a waterway in New York? Through the “Buffer in a Bag” initiative, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYS DEC) Trees for Tribs Program and the NYS Tree Nursery will provide landowners with a free bag of 25 bare-root native trees and shrubs to enhance streamside areas of property. Riparian buffers – the term used to describe these vegetated shoreline zones – are vital to water quality. They allow stormwater to settle out before entering tributaries, which reduces pollution and sedimentation. They also provide wildlife habitat, prevent erosion, and increase the land’s ability to retain floodwaters. 

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Throughout the winter, Lake Champlain’s vast tracts of ice and snow provide the perfect conditions for snowkiters like Gary Kjelleren. A brand-new sport in the late 1990s, kitesailing (the summer version of snowkiting) quickly took off in popularity. A kitesailer uses a large sail-like kite to catch the wind, while they skim and jump over the water’s surface on a finned water board. Anyone who has spent time on the shores of a large lake or ocean is likely familiar with the colorful, crescent-shaped kites that swoop jauntily through the air, a small human figure skipping along behind them.   

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