Joining forces to protect Vermont’s lakes

B y Jaime Thomas

The idea of power in numbers is one those who care about preserving Lake Saint Catherine are taking seriously.

The Lake St. Catherine Conservation Fund, Inc. (LSCCF) recently joined forces with five other Vermont lake associations to form the Coalition of Vermont Lakes, Inc. (TCVL).

The new group, which consists of all the major lakes under 5,000 acres in the state—Lake St. Catherine, Lake Bomoseen, Lake Dunmore/Fern Lake, Lake Hortonia, and Sunrise Lake—aims to look after the health of Vermont’s bodies of water.

“We’re looking to put our resources together; it’s something we’re trying to get more attention about,” said Bill Steinmetz, a Wells resident and president of both the coalition and the LSCCF. He said the six lake associations decided to collaborate after frustration with lack of state attention.

“The state of Vermont has looked to citizens to maintain the health and quality of its lakes,” Steinmetz said. “The smaller lakes don’t get the attention through the state government we think they should get.”

He explained that Vermont focuses more on its two biggest lakes, Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog.

“In our opinion, the state is more driven by Lake Champlain issues; the rest of the lakes have very different issues. We have nowhere near the pollution Lake Champlain has and the industrial waste. These are more alpine lakes,” Steinmetz said.

At Lake St. Catherine and other smaller ponds and lakes, he said more prominent issues are invasive species and shallowing.

“Lakes are lakes, but one size to fit all just isn’t working,” he said. In order to gain help from the state and other sources, the coalition will combine resources.

“This new organization will seek to improve conditions on Vermont lakes through research, education and community involvement,” according to a release. “Lakes in Vermont face serious challenges due to invasive species, stress of increased development and deteriorated lake conditions.”

Steinmetz named grants, permits and better attention from the state as the newly-formed group’s main priorities.

“We recognize that we’ll get more attention from the state—we have trouble getting permits. Grants are going to not necessarily the highest-priority project in our opinion. Everybody competes for the same money,” he said.

He mentioned that the LSCCF is one of the only lakes associations in Vermont to have come with a definite strategy to combat issues, an initiative he hopes will spread.

The organization is still in its formative stages, but Steinmetz said the group will meet again in March to come up with an action plan. The coalition hopes other lakes and ponds throughout Vermont will join it as well.

“We’ll learn more, and we’ll move ahead more quickly,” he said. To find out more about the coalition visit www.coalitionvermontlakes.com.

 

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