Do you love to spend time at a nearby lake or pond swimming, fishing, boating or just enjoying the peace and serenity of the water? July is Lakes Appreciation Month and a good time to take a moment to appreciate the value and importance of the more than 800 lakes and ponds dotting our landscape. Vermont’s lakes attract tourists and visitors providing important economic benefits to the state. Hundreds of lakes and ponds around the state have public beaches and boat launches providing unparalleled access to recreation for all Vermonters. In addition, lakes and ponds provide vital wildlife habitat, are a source of drinking water, and help to replenish groundwater aquifers.
Although we still have some of the cleanest and most pristine waters in the country, Vermont’s lakes and ponds are under increasing pressure from climate change and the spread of aquatic invasive species. Warming temperatures, more intense storms, and rising nutrient levels from polluted runoff contribute to toxic algae blooms while the spread of aquatic invasive species squeezes out native species resulting in destruction of habitat for native fish, amphibians and bird species.
Volunteer lake associations around the state are working hard to protect Vermont’s public waters, to reverse rising nutrient levels, prevent the further spread of aquatic invasives, reduce or eradicate existing aquatic invasive infestations, and restore and maintain Vermont’s lakes and ponds. This work takes not only these dedicated groups of volunteers but all who love and appreciate our vital water resources.
During this month, take some time to appreciate Vermont’s lakes and ponds, and to consider ways you can help to preserve them. Here are a few things you can do:
— Visit your local lake and take a minute to enjoy and appreciate this resource.
— If you bring a boat, kayak, canoe, paddleboard or any aquatic gear, be sure that it is cleaned before entering the lake to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
— If greeters are on duty, make sure to have them check your gear when entering and leaving the lake and have them wash your boat if there is a decontamination station available.
— Support your local lake association: Become a member, join the board, donate. These volunteer lake stewards do an enormous amount of work to protect and improve the health of our public waters.
— No lake association? Consider starting one.
— Let your local select board, state senators and representatives know how important healthy and clean lakes are.
— If you’re a lakefront property owner, use native plants and shrubs to prevent shoreline erosion and keep polluted runoff out of the lake.
— Stop using fertilizers and pesticides on your lawn or garden to reduce polluted runoff into streams and lakes.
— Join the Federation of Vermont Lakes and Ponds in our work of public education and advocacy for all of Vermont’s lakes and ponds. Visit vermontlakes.org for more information.
This July, appreciate the beauty and quality of life that our lakes and ponds provide, but also recognize that these vital resources are fragile and need our care. With all of us working together, we can protect and preserve Vermont’s lakes and ponds for now and for future generations.
– Pat Suozzi, President of the Federation of Vermont Lakes and Ponds