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The Lake Wise Program


Lake Wise Award SignThe Vermont DEC’s Lake Wise Program encourages landowners to voluntarily implement lake-friendly practices on their property.

The Lake Wise Program was 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. All categories are scored on their ability to slow, infiltrate and filter stormwater runoff which carries nutrients like phosphorus & nitrogen, sediments, and pollution into the Lake.

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."

Lakeshore properties that exemplify thoughtful, ecologically-minded development are proudly awarded a Lake Wise Award. The Lake Wise Award certifies that a property is managed in a manner that preserves fish and wildlife habitat, protects water quality, and maintains a shoreline's natural stability. Any lakeshore landowner can participate in the Lake Wise Program, including towns, state parks, businesses, and private homeowners.


Help protect our valuable natural resource - Lake St. Catherine - through conscious decision making, and participate in the Lake Wise program!

Lake Wise was developed through the Vermont DEC and is meant to provide technical assistance for shoreline landowners looking to incorporate lake friendly living practices on their properties. The Lake Wise assessment focuses on four portions of your property; driveway, structure, recreation area, and shoreline. The follow-up report gives recommendations on which stormwater management practices would be best for your property and the lake.

Awards and certificates are given to properties that receive high scores during their assessment and demonstrate exemplary lake friendly living.


Stormwater has a widespread environmental impact which makes it a growing concern in Vermont. In a statewide effort, towns and local organizations are working to implement large scale projects to help clean stormwater before it enters water bodies. Work is being done from the headwaters all the way down to the stream outlets.

As a shoreline property owner, you have the access and the ability to control what is happening directly at the water's edge.

While small-scale improvements on individual properties may not seem like they have much impact, collectively the implementation of many small projects will have a positive benefit on the water quality in the lake and the surrounding watershed.

Actions now will promote a healthy lake environment that will continue to support swimming, fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing in the future.


Vegetated buffers are one way to help control the stormwater on your property while enhancing your shoreline with beautiful native plants.

Buffers help to filter runoff, infiltrate stormwater, stabilize the soil, and prevent bank erosion. The ideal natural buffer is made up of five layers of vegetation: canopy, understory, shrub, ground cover, and duff layer.

Diagram of a vegetated lakeshore buffer.

- Drawing by Sadie Brown, Poultney Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District


As stormwater travels across impervious surfaces it carries with it pollutants such as; pesticides, herbicides, oils, road salt, sediment, and nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen. These pollutants have a negative impact on water quality and local wildlife.

Excess nutrients in the water contribute to problems which affect both human and wildlife health including; lower oxygen levels in the water, toxic algae blooms, and excessive plant growth.

Diagram of stormwater diversion techniques.

- Drawing by Sadie Brown, Poultney Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District


In the fall of 2019, the LSCA applied for, and received a grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program to perform Lake Wise assessments on LSC. This grant also includes funds to perform work on your property to help you achieve the Lake Wise award for your property! We are happy to be working with the Poultney Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District on this important lake project!

Last year, the Binghams earned the first Lake Wise Award on LSC:

The Binghams - the first Lake Wise Award on Lake St. Catherine in 2019.

In 2020, eleven properties won the Lake Wise Award - it was an amazing season! One of our 2020 winners, the Herricks:

The Herricks, one of 11 Lake Wise Award winners on Lake St. Catherine in 2020.


The Lake Wise Award has been earned by 12 properties on Lake St. Catherine. On the map below, these properties are indicated by the blue pins. Use the + / - on the map to zoom in and out. Click on a blue pin to see information and a photo of the property.

Also listed on this map are current and future Lake St. Catherine Stormwater Master Plan projects. Click here to learn more about the Lake St. Catherine Stormwater Master Plan.


In 2021, we'd like to continue this excellent progress around the lake. 

We've just submitted another grant request to the Lake Champlain Basin Program to expand the Lake Wise Program into Little Lake. During the 2021 season, in partnership with the Lake St. Catherine Conservation Fund and the Poultney Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District, we are reaching out to property owners in the Little Lake to perform Lake Wise assessments. We'd like to help you make your property Lake Wise, and help you earn the Lake Wise Award.


"What a positive experience working with Lake Wise. They were not only helpful in planting but extremely informative. We will continue working to improve our landscape to help preserve the integrity of the lake."

- Marcia Turcina

"I learned a great deal from Hilary about the Lake Wise benefits of better water quality, ecology and bank stability. The best part is that the recommended maintenance practices are easy and give me more time to enjoy the Lake!"

- Lena Crandall

"The plants look great and I am confident that we have laid the foundation for a healthy 15 foot barrier between the maintained yard and waterfront. The resulting garden will be attractive with its varied textures, color and plant height. At the same time it will help with run-off and erosion. I want to thank you for supporting us as we endeavor to maintain a healthy lake at Lake St. Catherine."

- Sue Herrick

If you'd like to participate, please email us at info@lakestcatherine.org and we'll add you to the list for 2021.

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Lake St. Catherine Association
PO Box 631
Wells, VT 05774

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