Lake Champlain Photos – Chris Lillie

Lake Champlain Maritime Festival Sunset – Burlington, VT (Photo by Chris Lillie)

Plant a Tree (or Ten) for Lake Champlain!

Join us on Saturday, November 19th at 10 am for a Tree Planting Workday! We’ll plant native trees along the La Platte River and celebrate this important water quality project with delicious coffee and baked goods from August First Bakery.

What: Upper La Platte River Natural Area Tree Planting
When: Saturday, November 19 (Rain or Shine, Snacks Provided)
10 am to 1 pm
Where: Upper La Platte River Natural Area, 480 Thomas Road, Shelburne, VT (directions)
What to Bring: Work gloves, water bottle, shovel (if you have one)
What to Wear: Long pants, sturdy boots, hat

Please RSVP to: EncodedSuccessfully Encoded, or call 802-862-4150.

Volunteers Build New Trail in Shelburne

Beams of sunlight illuminate a group of Lake Champlain Land Trust volunteers sawing branches, raking pine needles, placing rocks, and, occasionally—when summoning up an extra burst of energy—grunting as they construct a new forest trail.  On the last day of summer, the group helped expand the trail system at the family-friendly Upper La Platte River Natural Area in Shelburne.

Over the course of an afternoon, ten volunteers from local environmental and engineering design firm Stantec constructed a new trail linking the scenic Upper Field Trail to the Hemlock Trail.  The new trail bypasses a steep area washed out by Tropical Storm Irene, allowing visitors to once again reach the natural area’s impressive Hemlock forest and walk a two-mile long circuit through a variety of landscapes.

A peaceful and conveniently located hiking destination, the 65-acre Upper La Platte River Natural Area includes almost a mile of shoreline along the La Platte River, a major tributary of Lake Champlain.  The Natural Area features an abundance of wildlife, ample opportunities for bird watching, gentle trails, and a series of interpretive displays focused on water quality. Conserved in 2011 by the Lake Champlain Land Trust, the landowner the Vermont Zen Center, and other partners, the property is open to the public for hiking, birding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

“This new trail makes the Upper La Platte River Natural Area an even more attractive destination for families, who want nearby places to connect with nature,” said Chris Boget, Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Land Trust. “We thank the dedicated Stantec volunteers for helping us improve this incredible community resource.”

The volunteers put their engineering skills to good use, constructing a natural stone water bar that also serves as a staircase.  Located along a hillside, the new path was designed to follow the lay of the land and minimize erosion during heavy rainfall.

“Our local staff is focused on preserving and enhancing the environment, so we were happy to support the Lake Champlain Land Trust during our annual Stantec in the Community Day,” says Gary Santy, a senior principal with Stantec in South Burlington. “It was a great opportunity to contribute to the enjoyment of this wonderful local natural resource.”

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

Lake Champlain Photos – Gannon Osborn

South Bay of Lake Champlain from Bald Mountain

Lake Champlain’s South Bay from Bald Mountain – West Haven, VT

Volunteers: The Keystone to Stewardship

Satisfaction. Discovery. Commitment. Giving back.  Protecting the Lake.  These were common answers when we asked our volunteers why they help.

Dianne Leary thinks back to childhood summers spent lying on her grandparent’s dock with a diving mask watching fish. Observing the hidden underwater world, Dianne gained a deep appreciation for Lake Champlain and is driven to protect it. Asked why she volunteers, Dianne states simply, “If you want change to happen, you have to talk the talk and walk the walk.”

For Thomas and Cathy Shearer, whose family adopted the Round Pond trail, it’s about connecting their children to nature.

“It became one of our kids’ primary gateways to the natural world. They would go exploring and find caterpillars, berries, mushrooms, butterflies, snakes, and a ton of other cool things they wouldn’t find in our backyard.”

A strong desire to take action inspires Gunnar Sievert, who joins our workdays because they generate concrete results.  Our hard-charging volunteers get their hands dirty and witness the results of their digging, pruning, and raking—restored forests, more stable riverbanks, and improved trails.

With your help, we are caring for the Lake and the Land—to create a new and improved conservation ethic in the Champlain Valley.

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 .

Lake Champlain Photos – Jeff O’Donnell

Planting trees along the Upper La Platte River

Volunteers planting trees along the Upper La Platte River in Shelburne, VT

Volunteers Restore Habitat at Eagle Mountain

It’s a beautiful late summer day, and the forest is filled with the rhythmic buzzing of hand saws, the snip…snip…snip of tree pruners, and the unmistakable “pop” of roots and stumps launching out of the ground.  Lake Champlain Land Trust volunteers are at it again—pulling, popping, and clearing invasive trees and shrubs at Eagle Mountain Natural Area in Milton.

Over the course of three separate workdays, dozens of volunteers, including ten hard-charging employees from local design firm Stantec and members of the Milton Conservation Commission, helped restore sensitive lakeside forest habitat at this ecological hotspot.  The volunteers stepped up to remove hundreds of invasive trees and shrubs, protecting endangered plant and animal species, improving wildlife habitat, and providing a significant boost to the native species of this state-significant natural area.

The hard work performed by the volunteers will also help prevent invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle, which prefer recently disturbed areas, from invading the May 2015 brush fire zone near the summit of Eagle Mountain.  Once established, these invaders outcompete native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers for nutrients and sunlight.  Research shows that invasive species represent the second greatest threat to biological diversity.

“The hard work performed by the volunteers will help ensure that invasive species do not gain a foothold in the spring brush fire zone,” said Chris Boget, Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Land Trust. “We thank the community for helping us turn this into a positive opportunity to further protect Eagle Mountain Natural Area.”

One of the largest protected natural areas in Chittenden County, Eagle Mountain Natural Area is home to spectacular displays of spring wildflowers.  With dozens of acres along the family-friendly Hoyt Lookout Trail now cleared of invasive shrubs, visitors will be able to see even larger displays of wildflowers next spring.

The Lake Champlain Land Trust has been involved in the protection and restoration of Eagle Mountain Natural Area for over 20 years.  After accepting a generous gift of land from Milton residents John and Peggy Hoyt and working with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and other supporters to purchase the adjacent property, the Lake Champlain Land Trust donated the now 226-acre community treasure to the Town of Milton in 1998.

Several volunteers commented on how they enjoyed the opportunity to get their hands dirty and witness the results of their pulling, pruning, and popping—a restored forest community along one of the most popular and scenic recreational trails in the area.

“It’s incredibly important to help our communities, as individuals and as a company,” said Rick Bryant, a senior project manager at Stantec. “Working with the Lake Champlain Land Trust is a great opportunity to help restore forest habitat and protect the beautiful environment we all are lucky enough to enjoy here in Vermont.”

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

Lake Champlain Photos – Jeff O’Donnell

Late summer sunset over the Lake and Adirondacks from Snake Mountain

Lake Champlain Photos – Jenna Banning

Lake Sunset

Enjoying a world-famous Lake Champlain sunset at Oakledge Park in Burlington

Students and Volunteers Plant 300 Trees

Shovels and tree saplings at the ready, an energetic group of volunteers, including 35 biology students from Vergennes Union High School, fan out along an eroding riverbank. Planting locations are scouted, holes are dug, young trees are gingerly placed, and moist earth is tamped down.

To the students’ delight, their biology lesson on river restoration and improving the water quality of Lake Champlain was held outside under bright blue skies at the Upper La Platte River Natural Area in Shelburne. The students and volunteers stepped up to plant more than 300 trees and learn why restoring riverside forests is so important for both protecting our communities and Lake Champlain.

“Opportunities, such as working with the Lake Champlain Land Trust, provide fabulous experiences for students. We got to tie issues we had covered in class such as water quality, ecosystem dynamics, and river erosion with place-based examples,” commented Vergennes Union High School (VUHS) Biology Teacher Justin Gay.

Once mature, the trees planted by the students and volunteers will help buffer against extreme flood events, slowing flows and trapping sediment that would otherwise wash into Lake Champlain’s Shelburne Bay. Lake Champlain is a source of drinking water for over 200,000 people across the Champlain Valley.

“The Lake Champlain Land Trust is committed to protecting water quality through strategic land conservation, science-based stewardship, and demonstrating best practices for restoring compromised shorelands,” said Chris Boget, Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Land Trust. “We thank our partners at the Intervale Center, Lake Champlain Sea Grant Program, State of Vermont Ecosystem Restoration Program, and landowners Peter and Sandy Dietrich for helping us take this positive step toward improving the health of the Lake.”

The Lake Champlain Land Trust has been involved in restoration efforts at the Upper La Platte River Natural Area since permanently conserving the now 85-acre community treasure in 2011.

This restoration project is made possible thanks to funding from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s Ecosystem Restoration Program and other generous supporters. In total, the Lake Champlain Land Trust is restoring more than a mile of frontage along the La Platte River through a series of community tree plantings over the next two years.

Several students commented on how they would like to return with their families to check up on the trees. When they do return, the students can pass along the knowledge they gained and see their hard work bearing fruit—or in this case—a restored riverside forest of healthy young trees permanently filtering sediments and preventing phosphorous from reaching Lake Champlain.

“I’ll definitely make sure to go back in the future and see the then tall, healthy trees that my fellow classmates and I helped to plant,” said VUHS freshman Megan Tarte.

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