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.

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.

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.

Digging In and Making a Difference

Imagine twelve people who normally work in an office getting outside to help slow down flooding along the Upper La Platte River.

Now imagine slogging about in the mud, planting trees, laughing in the sunshine and sitting along the banks having a snack with some of your co-workers. And knowing that you just helped conserve the wildlife habitat and quality of Lake Champlain’s drinking water with each tree you planted.

That’s what a team of employees from 1% for the Planet did this fall.

The trees will help protect riverbanks and prevent storm runoff from entering the La Platte River. The La Platte flows directly into the Shelburne Bay of Lake Champlain, the primary source of drinking water for the greater Burlington area.

The partnership is a perfect fit for the Lake Champlain Land Trust and 1% for the Planet, which connects businesses, consumers, and nonprofits towards the common goal of saving the environment. 1% for the Planet encourages businesses to donate one percent of profits to environmental nonprofit organizations.

Studies show that employees who can participate in community projects as part of the business are more satisfied with their jobs and have a greater sense of team loyalty toward the organization.

“For us at 1% for the Planet, we see the value in not just a one-time volunteer day but partnering with one organization to go deep. We plan to regularly return to this site for our employee volunteer days throughout the year in order to maintain the beautiful trail and continue to build the riverside buffer,” – Jon Cocina, Membership Coordinator for 1% for the Planet.

“It’s so inspiring to work with area businesses who want to give back to the Lake and the lands that surround it,” said Chris Boget, Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Land Trust. “1% for the Planet is helping to lead the way, joining other local businesses who support our land and water conservation efforts.”

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

Lake Champlain Land Trust Earns National Recognition

The Lake Champlain Land Trust has achieved renewed accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent commission of land conservation experts.LTAC_seal_green--web

In 2007 the Lake Champlain Land Trust was nationally recognized as the first land trust in Vermont and one of the first seventeen nationwide, to be officially accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever.

“This designation assures all of our supporters and local landowners, who generously protect their land for the benefit of all of us, that the Lake Champlain Land Trust is meeting or exceeding national conservation standards for excellence,” said Chris Boget, Executive Director.

“The accreditation seal lets the public know that the accredited land trust has undergone an extensive, external review of the governance and management of its organization and the systems and policies it uses to protect land.” – Tammara Van Ryn, Commission Executive Director

The Lake Champlain Land Trust was awarded renewal in August and is now one of only 280 land trusts from across the country that are now accredited. Accreditation renewal must be completed every five years and provides the public with an assurance that the Lake Champlain Land Trust continues to meet exceedingly high standards for quality.

“We are proud to have been one of the first land trusts in the country to achieve accreditation and we strive to maintain that excellence in our work every day.” -Chris Boget, Executive Director

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.

Local Business Working to Improve Lake Champlain Water Quality

A World Class Chocolate Factory Starts Locally

On a rainy Saturday in November, employees of Barry Callebaut, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cocoa and confectionary products, formed a partnership with the Lake Champlain Land Trust and University of Vermont Lake Champlain Sea Grant program to improve water quality on the land outside their chocolate factory in St. Albans.

“We’re so thankful to Amanda Walker and the rest of the Barry Callebaut crew for volunteering to build this retention area. It’s a great example of how a local business can make an investment in both the community and their property, and end up with a winning formula,” – Becky Tharp, Lake Champlain Sea Grant Program.

Storm water runoff can significantly impair water quality.  To avoid this, the partners designed a rain retention area complete with red maples to divert storm water and allow the water to slow down (and become absorbed into the ground) rather than rushing into Rugg Brook and ultimately Lake Champlain.

If you would like your business to explore establishing a rain garden or retention area, funding may be available. Contact Chris Boget at chris@lclt.org for more information.

WQ-BarryCallebaut-workday-11-13-Photo-by-Rebecca-Tharp--web

Urban runoff from structures, streets, and parking areas often carries with it nutrients and pollutants, such as phosphorus and sediments, into the lake. Barry Callebaut is working to change that.

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

 

Public Notice: Renewal of National Accreditation

In 2007 the Lake Champlain Land Trust was nationally recognized as the first land trust in Vermont and one of the first seventeen nationwide, to be officially accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent commission of land conservation experts. The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever.  

“The accreditation seal lets the public know that the accredited land trust has undergone an extensive, external review of the governance and management of its organization and the systems and policies it uses to protect land.”  – Tammara Van Ryn,  Commission Executive Director

The Lake Champlain Land Trust is pleased to announce it is applying for renewal of accreditation, a process which happens every five years.  A public comment period is now open.

 “We want all of our supporters and local landowners, who generously protect their land for the benefit of all of us, to have the assurance that the Lake Champlain Land Trust is meeting or exceeding national conservation standards for excellence,” said Chris Boget, Executive Director.

The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications.  Comments must relate to how the Lake Champlain Land Trust complies with national quality standards.  These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust.  For the full list of standards, see www.landtrustaccreditation.org/getting-accredited/indicator-practices.

To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org.  Comments may also be faxed or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments,: (fax) 518-587-3183; (mail) 112 Spring Street, Suite 204, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.  Comments on the Lake Champlain Land Trust’s application will be most useful by January 3, 2014.

Environmental Education at Camp Kinya

Camp Kinya Colchester VT

For the past three summers the Lake Champlain Land Trust has partnered with the camp during the summer months.

DSC02605Lessons include everything to lake and river ecology as the Lamoille River enters Lake Champlain to tree identification and animal tracking in the rare Sandplain Forest.

The campers are able to create something each lesson to bring back to their cabin as a reminder of the important knowledge they acquired.

This summer our camp program started up on July 2nd with an exciting water quality adventure on the lake.

The campers were eager to learn. There is something special about being on the water as you learn about it.

Check out our page for Camp Kinya or  learn about more programs on our Programs Page.