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Lake St. Catherine Implementation Team Year End Report

Laura Dlugolecki from the Vermont Department Of Environmental Conservation, Watershed Management Division has provided this year end report of the Lake St. Catherine Implementation Team:

"I want to update you on some implementation projects that were completed, outreach events, projects that received funding, and the status of the South Lake Tactical Basin Plan.

Lake St. Catherine State Park:

Many of you are familiar with the Lake Wise Program, which is an initiative that awards lake-friendly shoreland properties. The goal of Lake Wise is to establish 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 2014, Lake St. Catherine State Park was one of 10 State Parks that was evaluated through the Lake Wise Program. The Lake wise evaluation provided recommendations for improvement to bring the Park up to the Lake Wise standards. Three of the 10 Lake Wise evaluated State Parks received funding this year to implement the Lake Wise recommendations (Lake St. Catherine, Silver Lake State Park in Barton, and Island Pond State Park in Brighton.) This spring, crews worked to install two sets of infiltration steps in steep, eroding access path areas, widen the vegetated buffer to 15 feet, and to add plantings on the banks. This fall, crews returned to complete some upper bank stabilization at the top of the slope and to remove a campsite at the top of a steep slope, renaturalizing the area to reduce compaction at the top of the slope, which will reduce erosion.

Septic Social:

In July we held a septic social, graciously hosted by Dede Kendall on the shores of Little Lake. There was a good turnout of local residents who came to learn about septic systems on lake-front property, how they work, their impact on the lake, and about alternative systems that can be used on small lakeshore lots. If there is demand and interest, we are happy to collaborate with residents, towns, lake associations, etc. to hold a similar event in the future.

Lake St. Catherine Watershed Stormwater Assessment/Lake Wise Master Plan:

At past implementation team meetings, we discussed the potential for having a stormwater assessment completed for the Lake St. Catherine Watershed to better understand some of the major sources of water quality issues in the area to better prioritize action and implementation. (We were given a brief presentation on an assessment that was done for Lake Bomoseen in the past).

Hilary Solomon of the Poultney-Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District applied for Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP) funding and was awarded the funds to go forward with the assessment.

Hilary will be working with partners to do a lake-focused assessment of the Lake St Catherine and the Wells Brook watershed, which includes roughly half of the Wells Brook-Mettowee River. Included are Endless Brook, the largest tributary to Lake St Catherine, which carries high sediment loads during storms, and Wells Brook, which flooded badly on July 1, 2017, and shows erratic and often high bacteria and nutrient concentrations during summer water quality monitoring. The project will involve completing an extensive field assessment to identify sources of pollution and stormwater to the streams in the Wells Brook Watershed and to Lake St Catherine. Projects to fix the problem areas will be identified and will be prioritized, based on quantitative criteria agreed upon by Vermont DEC staff. The 20 most effective projects will receive a one-page write up to assist with public outreach and help facilitate implementation. The six highest-priority, more complex projects (to be determined with DEC input) will receive conceptual designs.

The projects identified from this assessment will be prioritized for future funding. This stormwater assessment was proposed collectively through Lake Saint Catherine Implementation Team meetings attended by PMNRCD, members of the Wells Select Board, the Poultney Town Manager, members of the Lake St Catherine Association, and members of the Lake St Catherine Conservation Fund.

Updates to the South Lake Tactical Basin Plan:

Based on input from Towns, lake associations, the implementation team, assessments, monitoring data, and other partners, the South Lake Tactical Basin Plan is being updated. The Tactical Basin Plan identifies priority actions that protect and restore water quality within the South Lake Basin (where the Lake St. Catherine Watershed is located). Priority actions may be implementation projects or assessments. The actions identified in the basin plan are prioritized to receive grant funding. There is a public facing database to see current funding priorities: https://anrweb.vt.gov/DEC/IWIS/ARK/ProjectSearch.aspx You can search by basin (2&4 for the South Lake Basin) to see the current identified priority projects and whether or not they have been completed and/or funded. Each basin plan gets updated on a 5-year rotation. The South Lake Basin Plan is nearing completion of its update, which includes many lake-focused implementation projects as priorities, based on input from partners and data.

The DRAFT South Lake Basin Plan is out on 30-day public notice for public review and comment. The DEC anticipates approving this draft by the end of December concurrent with our requirements under the Lake Champlain TMDL and Accountability Framework.

The (formal) draft version is located here, along with the public meeting dates and locations:
http://dec.vermont.gov/watershed/map/basin-planning/basin4

Sorry for the short notice about these meeting dates, I just learned of them myself.

When the Basin Plan is complete, the updated list of priority projects will be added to the website.

The updated DRAFT Basin Plan identifies implementation opportunities for managing aquatic invasive species, management of runoff from roads into the lake, culvert and road upgrades to reduce runoff, Lake Wise assessments and Implementation, and projects to address agricultural runoff, forestry practices, and waste water treatment plants.

Non-profit groups, like lake associations, watershed groups, and towns can all apply for funding to implement the projects identified in the Basin Plan. Towns are encouraged to take initiative for zoning issues to deal with septic and stormwater runoff issues.

Outreach:

In August, The Lake Champlain Sea Grant and Amy Picotte from the DEC, Lake Wise Program, held a Shoreline Erosion Control workshop called: “Protecting Property and Lake - Be Storm Ready with Lake Friendly Practices.” The workshop was an opportunity for landowners to learn about natural approaches to protecting and stabilizing their shoreline, the Lake Wise program, and basic information about the Shoreland Protection Act. If lake associations or other groups are interested in additional workshops, please reach out and we can thing about future opportunities.

Additionally, I wanted to alert you to some work going on with your “neighbor lake”—Lake Bomoseen. Lake Bomoseen is going through a similar process with an implementation team of their own.

Lake Bomoseen Stormwater Assessment: The PMNRCD completed a stormwater master plan for the Lake Bomoseen watershed last year that yielded a list of priority projects to improve water quality. Some of the priority projects are now funded for implementation in the coming field season.

Cedar Mountain Road:

This August, a steep, eroding (nearly vertical) stretch of Cedar Mountain Road along Lake Bomoseen was stabilized using “bioengineering methods.” Encapsulated soil lifts, natural stone and vegetation were used to stabilize the shore and restore the shoreline to a natural slope. This approach uses “soft-scaping” as opposed to hardscaping methods and prevents erosion, while establishing natural vegetation at the shoreline. To learn more, check out the videos at the bottom of the Lake Wise website: http://dec.vermont.gov/watershed/lakes-ponds/lakeshores-lake-wise."

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