Show Your Love for Lake Champlain This Summer!

JUNE 2024

Get involved with the Lake Champlain Committee!

Lake Champlain is abuzz this time of year. Aquatic plants leaf out and spread, insects dance along the water’s surface, and people flock to the beaches. All this activity brings to light not only the many things we love about the lake, but also the challenges we face in maintaining its water quality and ecological integrity: it’s the season of cyanobacteria blooms and invasive species spread. With that, it’s the “on-season” for the Lake Champlain Committee’s (LCC) on-the-water stewardship programs.

Cyanobacteria monitoring

Cyanobacteria naturally occurs in lakes and have existed on earth for millions of years. Under the right conditions they form large accumulations referred to as blooms. Some types produce toxins which release into the water when cyanobacteria die and break down. Not all cyanobacteria blooms are toxic, but since there is no way to tell if toxins are present without laboratory tests, it is always safest to avoid blooms and adhere to beach closures.

Each summer LCC trains and oversees New York Vermont, and Quebec community science volunteers throughout the Lake Champlain basin to report on cyanobacteria and water conditions. The program, now in its 22nd year, provides critical data from over 150 Lake Champlain and inland lake sites on where and when blooms are happening and helps keep people updated on whether the water is safe for recreation. Results from the most recent reports are publicly available on the Vermont Department of Health’s Cyanobacteria Tracker, which displays the most recent monitoring reports for Lake Champlain and Vermont inland lake sites.

LCC trains volunteer monitors to distinguish cyanobacteria from other floating phenomena, file accurate reports of water conditions, understand cyanobacteria's ecological and health effects, and take actions to reduce the frequency of blooms. Volunteers commit to report from the same site weekly (daily during blooms if possible) from mid-June through mid-fall. Repeatedly visiting the same location throughout the season provides a more accurate picture of water quality.

To become a monitor or learn more about cyanobacteria, visit our website. If you aren’t able to monitor but want to know how to identify and avoid cyanobacteria, send us an email at lcc@ and we’ll invite you to our summer education sessions.

Invasive species monitoring

LCC runs another community science driven monitoring initiative: the Champlain Aquatic invasive Monitoring Program (CHAMP). Through CHAMP, LCC recruits, trains, and supports volunteers to survey for aquatic invasive species at sites throughout Lake Champlain.

Lake Champlain currently has 51 known aquatic non-native and invasive species of plants, fish, mussels, and other freshwater dwellers. Their lack of natural predators allows them to grow to numbers where their food consumption drastically alters the food web. Invasive species can cause extinction of native plants and animals, reduce biodiversity, compete with native organisms for limited resources, alter habitats, impede recreation, and damage local and regional economies.

CHAMP volunteers paddle or walk along a shoreline site, rake in samples of aquatic life, and report their findings of key target invasive species to LCC three times during the summer and fall. The information gathered by dedicated CHAMP volunteers provides critical data on where aquatic invasive species are and aren’t established. Surveys also aid in early detection and rapid response to new invaders -- we train volunteers in identification of “watch list” invasives that have been reported in the Hudson River and other nearby waterbodies but haven’t been confirmed in Lake Champlain.

LCC is currently recruiting more volunteers to train in June. Visit our sign-up page or contact LCC’s Education and Outreach Associate Eileen Fitzgerald at and lcc@ to learn more and sign up for CHAMP.

Stream Wise

If you live near a river or stream, you don’t even need to leave your house or get monitor training to get involved with LCC this year. We are a partner in Stream Wise, a program that recognizes landowners and renters that maintain wide buffers of native plants along river and stream shoreland to promote water quality and stream resiliency. Keeping a healthy vegetated buffer between streams and the built environment helps reduce the amount of runoff that enters our waterways, which is important for water quality. These buffers also provide key wildlife habitat, prevent erosion, and are crucial for flood resiliency.

You can sign up for a free, non-regulatory Stream Wise assessment of your property through LCC. The process is simple: assessments consist of a visit by a trained LCC assessor to determine buffer the appropriate width, composition, and vegetation for a buffer. Site visits are an opportunity to share what you value in your stream and why you are interested in maintaining a buffer. Assessments include a follow-up report that describes your stream buffer, specific recommendations for improvements, and resources. Folks who meet the Stream Wise requirements are issued awards.

Stream Wise is intended to not only award and recognize landowners who maintain healthy stream buffers, but to educate folks about ways to maintain land for ecological health, water quality protection, and flood resiliency. Sign up for an assessment here.

Lake Champlain Paddler’s Trail Site Stewards

LCC opened the Lake Champlain Paddlers' Trail in 1996 to provide a safe, recreational corridor on the lake for human powered craft. Today, the Trail includes over 40 sites on New York and Vermont public and private lands, providing access to more than 600 lakeshore and island campsites. It stretches over 90 miles from south of Ticonderoga to just below the Canadian border. The Trail depends upon clean water. As such, it serves as a tangible symbol of LCC’s commitment to water quality protection and restoration. 

Volunteer stewardship is critical to the upkeep of the Lake Champlain Paddlers' Trail. LCC encourages all paddlers to view themselves as active caretakers of the Trail system by following guidance for safe and low-impact use of the Trail. If you are an experienced, safety-conscious paddler and able to visit a site several times during the season, consider becoming a Site Steward. Stewards either adopt one Trail site to frequent or serve as "stewards at large" and report back on conditions at any of the sites in the system. During each visit, stewards assess launch and landing areas, pick up trash, check for erosion, and file reports on site use and conditions.

Trail sites vary in their stewardship needs. Locations at the more developed state parks have on-site staff and are vigorously managed. Other public and private sites offer primitive camping and have no on-site caretakers. As use of the Paddler’s Trail increases, so does the importance of having a committed group of volunteer stewards. LCC has several sites in need of volunteer stewards in 2024; learn more and sign up here.

Other opportunities

There are many other opportunities to get involved with LCC this summer and beyond. From joining the Clean Lake Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) to be part of our cadre of community members we can call on to speak out for the lake, invasive species removal days, or helping out in the office, there is something for everyone who cares about the lake and has some time to spare. Contact us through our volunteer interest form or email us at lcc@

Lake Look is a monthly natural history column produced by the Lake Champlain Committee (LCC). Formed in 1963, LCC is a bi-state nonprofit that uses science-based advocacy, education, and collaborative action to protect and restore water quality, safeguard natural habitats, foster stewardship, and ensure recreational access. You can joinrenew your membership, make a special donation, or volunteer to further our work.