At the end of each season, we like to take some time to present a recap of what we’ve done for Lake St. Catherine on behalf of the lake community and our membership.
It was a year like no other, filled with uncertainty.
As the COVID-19 pandemic progressed, we wondered if we’d be able to perform any of our planned lake management projects this year. We were extremely concerned about the safety of our contractors, our Greeters, our volunteers, and our Trustees (and our families and friends). Would we lose a large portion of our funding? Even if we had sufficient funding, would we be able to safely perform the tasks needed to implement our lake management programs?
Our best laid plans at the beginning of the year were upended as we began to hear about grants that we had earned possibly being canceled - and some of them were. Tough decisions were made and we revised our budget to prioritize our programs and projects that would have the most impact for LSC. Thankfully, most of our canceled grant funding was reinstated, and we were able to safely implement the majority of our 2020 plan.
This is certainly not the year we planned for, but we were happy with what we were able to accomplish.
So, please get comfortable, grab a beverage - and take a few minutes as we take you through the season.
Here is our 2020 Year In Review.
As we headed into 2020, we were energized by knowing we had earned Lake St. Catherine approximately $65,000 in grants from the State Of Vermont and the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) to help fund projects like the Greeter Program, our Milfoil Control Program, and Lake Wise. As mentioned previously, some of these were canceled when COVID-19 hit, but were thankfully reinstated. In April, the LCBP announced an emergency relief funding grant to help organizations like the LSCA deal with current expenses during the pandemic - which were happy to earn. We have already submitted a number of grant proposals for 2021.
As anticipated, membership was down this year. We know and understand that many businesses were impacted by the pandemic, and some of you were laid off or lost hours at your job. A sincere THANK YOU to everyone who was able to contribute to the LSCA and become a member this year.
Many of you renewed your membership or joined as soon as our 2020 Membership Drive kicked off in early February - which was very helpful as pandemic was looming.
We ended the season with 346 members, down slightly from 350 last year. While we came close to matching our 2019 total, we had previously increased our membership numbers, year-over-year the past 3 years.
We hope to break the 350 mark in 2021 as we continue to reach out to LSC property owners, and hope to expand our reach with membership levels for family members of property owners, renters, and those who use the lake for recreation.
We hope to earn your support for our 2021 as we launch our Membership Drive in early February of 2021.
Communicating With The Lake St. Catherine Conservation Fund (LSCCF) On The Health Of Little Lake
In mid February, we posted a paper on our website addressing a series of statements, postings, newspaper articles, and reports on the situation in Little Lake concerning sediment and milfoil issues (you can read it here). We felt that important information about these issues were not being communicated to the lake community and we made the decision to respond to the statements, postings, and newspaper articles while providing information from a Vermont DEC report, and our own aquatic plant surveys. We also proposed the outline of a 3 year plan to address the milfoil issue and proposed ideas to work on interventions in the watershed to combat problems that are contributing to sediment issues.
The purpose of our paper was to inform the lake community and to present the data and conclusions from the DEC report and our plant surveys, while offering potential solutions. However, the LSCA and the LSCCF have not seen eye-to-eye on lake management in Little Lake for many years, and some interpreted our paper as negative or as an attack. This was certainly not our intent, and it was unfortunate some were upset by it. But, it did get people talking, and it eventually led to a series of meetings between the LSCA and the LSCCF.
In late February, a Little Lake property owner reached out to both groups and graciously hosted a meeting to discuss Little Lake issues. The discussion became contentious at times, but concluded with an agreement to keep talking - and we did. Both groups kept in touch via email and phone conversations. These discussions led to setting up a moderated, joint meeting between the LSCA, LSCCF, the Vermont DEC, and Michigan based limnologist Jennifer Jones which took place online in late August (you can view a recording of that meeting here). A few weeks before this meeting took place, board members from both groups took a boat tour of Little Lake to assess and discuss the current conditions there.
The joint meeting was productive, and discussions continued, leading to another online meeting in late October. At this meeting, the LSCCF presented a 3 year, 6 point plan which outlines the lake management tools they will be pursuing for the next 3 years in Little Lake. You can view this on their website.
We presented our 3 year plan to help control milfoil in Little Lake, and our ideas to help with sedimentation issues by initiating projects in the watershed. We also briefly discussed our ambitious plan to begin work on a 10 year Lake St. Catherine Watershed Action Plan. A detailed announcement about this new partnership with the LSCCF can be read here.
Finding agreement on both milfoil control and watershed management tools, we’ve agreed to work together on these two initiatives beginning in 2021.
A few weeks ago, board members from each group held an online kickoff meeting to discuss watershed projects and expanding the Lake Wise program to Little Lake. Then, this past weekend, board members held an online kickoff meeting to discuss the plan for milfoil control in Little Lake next season.
This is fantastic news for Little Lake and the whole of Lake St. Catherine.
There are three very important ways you can help to support these plans.
Donate to the cause. We haven’t yet finalized how we'll fundraise to help cover the 3 year Little Lake milfoil control plan, but we are going to need your financial support. Soon, we’ll let you know how you can make a contribution to specifically help fund this program over the next 3 years.
Get involved. Along with your financial support, there is a lot you can do as an individual to support these programs. To help support watershed programs on the lake, learn about best practices for your lakeshore property to limit the nutrients, sediments and pollution that enter the lake. Sign up to have your property to be assessed for Lake Wise in 2021. The LSCA and the PMNRCD will help you create a beautiful, lake-friendly shoreline. To help support the milfoil control program, learn to identify what milfoil looks like and do what you can to get every piece you can find out of the lake. If you see it growing near your dock or swim area, pull it out by the roots and get it out of the lake. If you see a piece or a patch floating by, scoop it out of the lake. If you see some washed up into your shoreline, clear it out. Place it on land to dry out and dispose of it like you would yard waste.
Become a member. Both the LSCA and the LSCCF rely on membership dues to fund lake management programs each season. As property owners, and as people who love LSC, we need to all contribute to help keep LSC clean and beautiful.
Boat Launch Monitoring - Greeter Program
Our Greeters have been trained to identify invasive species (like spiny waterflea, asian clams, water chestnut, starry stonewort and zebra mussels) to stop them from entering LSC at the boat launch in Wells. They also educate boaters about the importance of looking for these invasives on their boat or trailer so they are not spread to LSC or another lake. Each year, they do a fantastic job checking vessels and educating the lake community on the dangers of invasive species for Lake St. Catherine. They are on duty from Memorial Day through Labor Day - working on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They also cover holidays and fishing tournaments.
Heading into 2020, our plan was to again expand our Greeter Program monitoring hours (over the previous year), and expand the Greeter Program to the Lake St. Catherine State Park using funds earned from grants from the LCBP and the State of Vermont. At one point, 2 of 3 of these grants were canceled. But, we decided we needed to move ahead with our initial plan and launched a scaled back pilot program at the State Park.
We felt it was important to get the Greeter Program started at the State Park as it has been estimated that 1,800 vessels are launched there each season. So, in mid July, our State Park Greeter Program pilot began, even though we had lost the funding earmarked for this expansion. Then, in early August, we received the good news that the Watershed grant was reinstated.
These efforts resulted in a whopping 33% increase in the number of boats inspected in 2020 as compared to 2019!
We hope to again expand Greeter monitoring hours in 2021.
On Wednesday, June 24th, three areas on LSC totaling 18.3 acres were treated with ProcellaCOR (highlighted in red in the attached map). This represents a 52% reduction in the amount of acres that were treated in 2019. Two areas were in the northern end of the lake in North Bay and Lily Pond, the other area was in the Channel south of the bridge. These treatments were very successful.
Our diver assisted suction harvesting (DASH) team began their work on June 27th. This season, the DASH team worked in 10 areas, totaling 38.7 acres. This represents a 42% reduction in the amount of acres that were DASH'd in 2019.
In these DASH areas, the milfoil was very sparse. Although they worked approximately the same amount of hours as in 2019, they only harvested 132 buckets (17.5 gallons per bucket) of milfoil. In 2019, 1,293 buckets were harvested. This is excellent news, and an amazing statistic.
You can view our 2020 results and the aquatic plant survey by clicking here.
8th Annual Boat Parade
As with our other lake activities, we were concerned about putting on the Boat Parade this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted to continue this yearly tradition, but we wanted to make sure that we could do it safely.
The first change was to not ask our local business to donate prizes this year. Many were - and still are struggling - so we asked the lake community to support those local businesses that donated prizes in 2019. They are: Lake St. Catherine Country Club, Full Belly Deli of Poultney, VT, New England Lakeside Realty Inc., Edwards Market, The Wells Country Store, Otto's Cones Point General Store, The Gold Trout, Pine Grove Diner, The Barn Restaurant & Tavern, The Pawlet Station, Village Yarn Shop, Rebecca J. Thomas, Inc. dba Country Horizon Realty, MacDaddy's Car Hop, Stewart's Shops, Williams Hardware, Wellsmere Farm, CBH Business Services, Everyday Flowers.
Next, we removed the judging stations and instead decided to post an online poll asking the lake community to vote for your favorite boat in each of our 4 categories: Most Original, Most Patriotic, Funniest, Best Overall. Photos were taken of all participants during the parade, and the online poll was posted.
After the vote was tallied, we had our 4 winners:
Most Patriotic: Boat #8 - The Dunbar Family - "Party Like A Patriot"
Funniest: Boat #9 - The Lutz & Harris Families - "Fowl Play"
Most Original: Boat #14 - The Mroz Family - "Ice Cream Boat"
Best Overall: Boat #1 - The Conine Family - "Ski School"
We hope you enjoyed the parade this year!
Each July, we look forward to getting our membership together for our Annual Meeting & Dinner at the Lake St. Catherine Country Club. The LSCA Trustees present reports from their committees, and we get to share an excellent dinner with our lake neighbors.
It was very disappointing that we were unable to do that this year.
But, we still had a lot of important information to share with our membership and the lake community, so we held a Virtual Annual Meeting on July 25th. Previous to the meeting, we solicited questions from the membership and the lake community that we could answer during the meeting.
All of our Trustees joined a Google Meet, and we recorded our presentation and posted the video on our YouTube channel. You can view that recording by clicking here.
We are keeping our fingers crossed that we can have an in-person Annual Meeting & Dinner next summer.
One of the grants we earned had an education component which would have resulted in small community meetings around the lake. We had plans to set up small ‘neighborhood’ designations for areas around the lake and have a captain in each area to speak with their neighbors to have discussions about lake issues. The captains would set up small meetings with interested neighbors and a LSCA Trustee would attend to talk about the lake and answer questions.
Obviously, COVID-19 made this project impossible to begin in 2020. But, with this project being canceled and the Annual Meeting going virtual, we wanted to find some way to have safe face-to-face interactions with members. So, we came up with Dockside Chats.
Our idea was to have a LSCA Trustee visit you at your dock via the lake and have a socially distanced chat about the lake. We advertised this on our website and Facebook pages asking interested members to write into our email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule a chat.
We are glad to say this was a popular program with about 15 Dockside Chats scheduled. We hope to do it again next year - along with our neighborhood program.
WOW - what a year for Lake Wise! Eleven properties on Lake St. Catherine earned the Lake Wise Award in 2020.
2020 Lake Wise Award winners, The O'Connells - West Lake Road
Lake Wise is a program developed by Vermont’s Lakes and Ponds Program to recognize outstanding efforts by homeowners who live along a lakeshore to protect the water quality and habitat along the shoreline and within the near-shore area of the lake. Four categories are assessed: The driveway and parking area, the structure (which includes roof, drainage, and septic), the recreation area (the lawn/footprint of non-natural, high-use yard areas), and the shoreline buffer area.
The goal of the Lake Wise program, from the Lake Wise website:
"The goal of Lake Wise is to establish a new normal, a new culture of lakeshore landscaping that is proven to help protect the lake. A property that earns the Lake Wise Award will represent a 'model' shoreland property. The Lake Wise Award certifies a property is well managed, using shoreland Best Management Practices, and is maintained to care for the lake."
In partnership with the Poultney Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District (PMNRCD) and property owners around the lake, the Lake Wise program was a huge success in 2020.
A LCBP grant helped to fund both property assessments, native plantings, and stormwater runoff projects on individual property owner’s shorelines.
Building on the work in 2018 and 2019 led to the success of the program in 2020 - and this brings the total Lake Wise properties on LSC to 12.
Our goal is to earn another 10 awards in 2021, and get our first for a Little Lake property owner.
As we were preparing this report, we received word that a LCBP grant we applied for to expand the Lake Wise program into Little Lake in 2021 was awarded! We are excited to expand this program into Little Lake and work with the LSCCF on implementing it.
You can read more about Lake Wise and why it is so important for LSC on our website by clicking here.
Our traditional Spring and Fall newsletters were posted digitally on our website, and printed copies were made available at Otto’s.
In early December, we launched our new website at lakestcatherine.org. Our previous website served us well for 4 years, but it was time for a refresh.
We still have some work to do, but you'll immediately notice a new design, updated pages, new pages, and lots of new photos and content.
Along with the new look, and all the new LSC related information we've added, there are a bunch of new features we'll be able to offer members and visitors. We'll continue to update the site over the winter, and we'll let you know as we roll out these new website features.
Please check it out and let us know what you think.
As always, our Blog and Facebook pages will be constantly updated with the latest LSC information and news - so please check those often.
Looking Ahead To 2021
We’ve touched upon a few of these above, but we’d like to briefly summarize our ambitious plans for 2021.
2021 Membership Drive: We’ll be working hard to get back on track with our membership by increasing the total number of members, and the dollars raised over our recent previous highs in 2019. We’ve made it even easier to renew or become a member on our new website. We’ve simplified membership levels and added the ability for members to include an additional contribution in the amount of their choosing during the process which we hope the lake community will take advantage of. We will also reach out to seasonal renters, family members of property owners, and recreational users of the lake with our new ‘Supporter of LSC’ level of membership. We’ll kick off the 2021 Membership Drive in early February.
Lake-Wide Milfoil Control Efforts: Planning and meetings are already taking place to prepare for our milfoil control efforts in Lake St. Catherine in 2021. Along with planning to continue our yearly DASH and ProcellaCOR milfoil control program, members of the LSCA and the LSCCF have been discussing expanding the program to include a ProcellaCOR treatment in Little Lake next year as part of a 3 year plan. This is excellent news for the Little Lake and the whole of Lake St. Catherine. Members from both boards will be meeting soon to discuss our joint fundraising efforts. We’ll let you know about the treatment and how you can contribute to its success when those plans are finalized. We’ll be soliciting donations from the lake community and educating you on what you can do in the lake and on your shorelines to make this 3 year plan a success. We hope you’ll be able to contribute to this plan to help Little Lake.
Lake Wise: We are very excited to have earned another LCBP grant to fund our Lake Wise Program in 2021. This year, we’ll again partner with the PMNRCD and are happy to be working together with the LSCCF to expand the program into Little Lake. Lake Wise is such an important program for Lake St. Catherine. As a property owner on the lake, our collective efforts to make our shorelines lake friendly will have a huge impact on water quality. Our properties are the last line of defense to keep stormwater runoff from depositing sediments, pollution, and weed growing nutrients into the lake. If you’d like to be part of the Lake Wise Program in 2021, please email us at email@example.com.
Lake St. Catherine Watershed Action Plan: This fall, the LSCA, with the support of the PMNRD and the Vermont DEC, applied for a LCBP grant to help fund the research and the development of a Watershed Action Plan for LSC. From the EPA, a Watershed Action Plan is described as, “Watershed planning helps address water quality problems in a holistic manner by fully assessing the potential contributing causes and sources of pollution, then prioritizing restoration and protection strategies to address these problems.” We hope to begin the multi-year process of creating the LSC Watershed Action Plan in 2021 which we anticipate will lead to a 10 year plan.
Greeter Program: We continue to hear reports of aquatic invasive species (AIS) establishing themselves in lakes that are in the vicinity of Lake St. Catherine - this is why the Greeter Program is so important. Our plan in 2021 will be to again (for the 3rd year in a row) expand the hours worked by our Greeters, along with a full season of checking vessels at the LSC State Park.
Thank You For Your Support
We hope you find that our efforts in 2020 for Lake St. Catherine have been worthy. It’s been a difficult year, but we are proud of what we were able to accomplish under the circumstances. As we look forward to 2021 - with new projects, and new partnerships - we promise to continue our work for the betterment of Lake St. Catherine.
Thank you to everyone who supported us this year. We hope to earn your support again in 2021.
Please keep yourself healthy and be well. We hope to see you at the lake soon.
- The Trustees of The Lake St. Catherine Association