Archives for June 2014

Caring for Our Land

Volunteer Spotlight: Baird Morgan

Baird Morgan looking over Lake Champlain from Hoyt Overlook

Baird Morgan looking over Lake Champlain from Hoyt Overlook

Baird Morgan has a clear view of Eagle Mountain from his Grand Isle camp and was one of the many volunteers who answered our request to adopt one of our trails. He, along with many Adopt-A-Trail volunteers, have been visiting “their” trail a couple of times a month to both enjoy the views and to make sure that the trails are clear of tree branches and litter.

After adding fresh blazes from the new parking area, and recruiting fellow hikers like his wife, and even a stranger he met on the trail, Baird worked with the Lake Champlain Land Trust to come up with new trail signs. Baird even successfully convinced the publisher of the local Milton Independent to write a story to help recruit other volunteers.  (Suzanne Flynn, the owner of the Milton Independent and several local newspapers generously paid for the new signs.)

“As a busy land trust, we rely on people like Baird to help us take care of these special community places,” noted Chris Boget,  Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Land Trust. “I am grateful for how far he went to make sure the trail improvements made it easier for everyone to enjoy Eagle Mountain.”

Working with Baird, the Lake Champlain Land Trust can bring in additional volunteers if there is ever the need for substantial clean-up or removal of blown-down trees. A special thank you to Baird for all of his help and being one of the official “eyes on the ground” team members of the Lake Champlain Land Trust.

You know, I really enjoy it. I love being outside in different seasons and I appreciate knowing that I can help out in my own small way. It doesn’t take a ton of time, it’s not hard and it’s fun.”  -Baird Morgan, Volunteer


Do you or your family want to adopt a trail near you, or are you interested in joining our volunteer email list to learn about upcoming project needs? Give us a call (802) 862-4150 or email

Photo of the Week

Mayes Landing in Summer

Mayes Landing in Summer

Students Making a Difference

Upper La Platte River, Shelburne, Vermont

Upper La Platte River, Shelburne, Vermont

Have you always thought that science class meant long hours in a classroom or in the lab?

Well, not for Mary Rutenbeck and Mari Caminiti, Advanced Placement (AP) Biology students at Champlain Valley Union High School (CVU). Thanks to a partnership with the Vermont Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), CVU, and Nicole Gorman, their AP Biology Teacher, science is real…and it’s also making a real difference to both students—and to the water quality of Lake Champlain.

The students chose to study the habitat of the endangered Stonecat fish and conduct ecological research at the Lake Champlain Land Trust’s Upper La Platte River Natural Area in Shelburne, Vermont.

They began by collecting data in July and returned every three weeks until November. They measured the water temperature, collected insects and pH samples, and sent water samples to Saint Michael’s College for evaluation.

The findings indicate there is a robust insect population to help support a healthy population of the endangered Stonecat. But there are also high phosphorous levels in the water, the main threat to the health of the La Platte River and Lake Champlain itself.

Thanks to these students, the Lake Champlain Land Trust can use this baseline data to calculate the difference our long-term river restoration is having on the water quality of Lake Champlain.

“This was a great opportunity for the students to take their learning outside of the classroom and apply it in a real life setting. The Lake Champlain Land Trust’s Upper La Platte River Natural Area is perfect for field work.” -Nicole Gorman, CVU Biology Teacher

Would you like to help out? For more information about volunteering with the Lake Champlain Land Trust, visit our volunteer webpage.

Big Bluff Island Conserved!



Seventeen islands: large and small, rugged and awe-inspiring…

Our seventeen islands are home to many of Lake Champlain’s important wildlife species including the shy and endangered Spiny Softshell Turtle and birds as tiny as the Black-throated Green Warbler— and hopefully soon the majestic Bald Eagle.

Now, thanks to former landowner Jeanie MacDonough and the support of our members and many generous funders, the latest island, Big Bluff Island, has recently joined the Lake Champlain Land Trust’s family of conserved islands, bringing the number to seventeen.

Instead of facing residential development, Big Bluff Island will now remain as forested habitat along the shoreline of Lake Champlain. It will continue to provide critical habitat for warblers and other bird species that depend upon seasonal resting spots in order to successfully complete their annual migration.

The five-acre island features a mature forest, wetlands, and the only Erosional Lake Bluff discovered on Lake Champlain  Big-Bluff-Point-leaf-off-visit-looking-E-from-middle-with-VHCB-&-Glenn-Stout-Apr-15-2013-Photo-by-Chris-Boget-(20)

It didn’t have to be this way. Jeanie MacDonough could have sold it for seasonal home development but instead realized that she had something far too special. “When you find out that you own something that is rare, a treasured community jewel, you have a choice. It has been in my family for 74 years. My late husband, Bruce Ladeau, and I started talking to the Lake Champlain Land Trust several years ago. The family is thrilled to sell it to the Lake Champlain Land Trust as a wildlife reserve.”

Partnerships, Paddlers, and Protection 

Many of the larger islands conserved by the Lake Champlain Land Trust (e.g. Knight, Woods, Law) have been donated to the State of Vermont so that people can camp or picnic as they kayak or canoe throughout the area. Most of the smaller islands protect sensitive wildlife prone to abandon their nests if disturbed. For example, thanks to cooperating landowners and our successful conservation of key islands, Lake Champlain’s endangered Common Tern was brought back from near extinction.

The Lake Champlain Land Trust will retain ownership of Big Bluff Island to make sure the management of the island will maintain a healthy balance. Paddlers visiting during the day in certain seasons will not deter the Spiny Softshell Turtle nor future Bald Eagle pairs seeking to nest on the isolated island.

“Eagles have a better chance of making a comeback, here in Vermont, every time we conserve a Lake Champlain island or part of the shoreline,” reflected Jeanie MacDonough. “It feels good to see an eagle and think, ‘Hey, we played a tiny a role in that.’”

”For us, we felt we owed it to Lake Champlain and everyone who loves the lake to honor its critical conservation importance.” -Jeanie MacDonough

Photo of the Week – Chris Boget

Burlington waterfront in full bloom May 5 2013 Photo by Chris Boget (8)

Burlington Waterfront in Full Bloom