For your information only. These draft minutes from the 2021 Annual Meeting will not be official until they have been adopted at the 2022 Annual Meeting.
Annual Meeting Minutes
Lake St. Catherine Conservation Fund, Inc.
Date & Time: August 21, 2021, 10:00 AM
Format: The meeting was held at the Wells School. The proceedings were also recorded via Zoom and that recording is available on the LSCCF website (www.lakematters.com) and on our Facebook page.
Attendance: The meeting was attended by 27 members, five of whom are
Board members. They are Robin Barley (via Zoom), Karla Dendor, Michael Marine, Tim Makepeace and Tina Peterson.
Welcome: Following some very brief welcoming remarks, interim President Michael Marine introduced the Board members present at the meeting. He then tabled the minutes of the 2020 Annual Meeting for comment and a vote. Without change, the minutes were approved by a show of hands.
President’s Report: Marine then presented a report (available on the website) on what has happened since the 2020 Annual Meeting. The two most significant developments (herbicide use and changes on the Board) were triggered by the March 2021 decision by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation not to approve our permit applications to install a full-lake aeration system and to use bioaugmentation (enzymes) to accelerate decomposition of the extraordinary amounts of organic sediment present in Little Lake.
Following that disappointment, the Board deepened its nascent efforts to coordinate with the Lake St. Catherine Association. The most significant result was agreement on a three-year plan to deploy herbicides targeting Eurasian water milfoil (EWM) in Little Lake. The initial application in mid-June was highly successful, but the LSCCF remains concerned about the possibility of rapid EWM regrowth, replacement of the EWM by native plants, and/or problems with dissolved oxygen levels or algae blooms. The second major change was the resignation of a number of Board members and the recruitment of new blood to replace them. The reasons for the resignations varied, but the decision to support herbicide use was a factor in several.
Marine closed by expressing deep appreciation for the tremendous community support for the Fund, as demonstrated by the generosity shown in the special fundraising drive last fall and the drive to raise funds for the herbicide program, as well as the strong participation in the June fishing tournament and raffles. He also thanked the residents of Wells for voting, once again this year, to provide $20,000 to support the Fund’s work. He conveyed special thanks to the members of the Wells Select Board, former State Representative Robin Chesnut-Tangerman, newly-elected State Representative Sally Ackey, and State Senator Brian Collamore for their strong encouragement and support for our efforts to convince the DEC to allow the use of aeration and bioaugmentation in Little Lake.
Treasurer’s Report: Tina Peterson outlined the contents of a chart showing the breakdown in income and expenses for Fiscal Year 2020-2021 (July 1 – June 30). The harvesting program was the Fund’s major expense in this period. She also reported that, in accordance with the by-laws, an audit has been successfully conducted on the Fund’s books covering the previous fiscal year (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020). No discrepancies were noted. Peterson also described the major components of the Fund’s planned income and expenditures for the 2021-2022 year. Despite the added costs of the herbicide program, she noted that the Fund is in solid financial health.
Marine then asked the attendees to comment on the proposed budget (there were none), followed by a vote. The budget was approved by a show of hands.
Consideration of Amendments to the LSSCF By-Laws: Drawing on material that had been distributed prior to the meeting by email, Marine laid out the rationale for amending the by-laws. There are two primary purposes to the proposed changes. First is to expand regular membership (with voting rights) to include the spouse, adult child and spouse of that child of anyone who owns property along the shoreline of Lake St. Catherine or is a resident of Wells, Vermont or Poultney, Vermont, and has satisfied his or her dues requirement. Second is to allow an associate member to pay dues and stand for election as a Director, with Board approval.
Without debate, the meeting attendees approved the proposed changes by a show of hands.
Election of the Directors and Officers: Marine presented the slate of directors for 2021-2022. In addition to six holdovers (Robin Barley, Tim Makepeace, Michael Marine, Tina Peterson, Bob Short and Owen Thomas), there are three first-time candidates: Adam Bryant, Karla Dendor and Jerry Riso. The attending members approved the nine candidates by a show of hands.
This year, the Board has decided to combine the offices of Secretary and Treasurer, with Tina Peterson filling the job. After determining that there were no other candidates, the meeting attendees then elected Michael Marine as President and Robin Barley as Vice President by a show of hands.
Lake Improvement Committee Report: Marine read a report prepared by Bob Short (a video version is available as part of the Zoom recording on the website). He acknowledged that to avoid adversely impacting the herbicide program, we had to reduce our harvesting footprint this season. Currently, the yield is 50-70% of what we harvested in 2020. Another key factor in the shortfall is our new focus on picking up floating fragments, especially of EWM. This is time-consuming, but essential if we are to control the regrowth of this self-regenerating invasive plant. Provided we can get the blue harvester back in the water (using foam to repair leaks in its pontoons), we look forward to running two machines in 2022.
Short also commented on the herbicide program, which he described as “99% successful” at clearing out milfoil in the targeted area. He also outlined LSCCF’s plans to institute a monitoring plan that will feature dissolved oxygen and sediment testing, aquatic vegetation surveys, depth measuring, and biannual bio scans. He asked for the community’s help in reporting any observed changes in water color and clarity, die-offs of vegetation around docks, and the quantity and condition of fish, frogs and the like.
He reviewed the limited results thus far of the small dredging project in the northwest corner of Little Lake. Based on the unsatisfactory results we achieved using a small dredge, we determined that we need a much larger machine with a cutting head to deal with the dense root base. Funding permitting, we plan to lease such a dredge, in 2022 or 2023.
Questions from the Members: During the meeting, Marine and Peterson answered a number of clarifying questions. Two issues produced the most discussion and debate. First was on the plans for repairing the blue harvester and setting up a volunteer program to supplement the contracted work using the orange harvester. The blue harvester has been at Fran Gilman’s property for nearly a year as he volunteered to repair it. There is a significant disagreement over the seaworthiness of this machine. Gilman believes it is seaworthy now and proposes that it be put in the water for a week-long test. Thus far, the LSCCF Board has denied that request, for fear that the machine would sink, leaving a potentially expensive task of removing it from the water. Rather, the Board proposes that Gilman pursue the foam application repair first, then run the test. At this point, the two sides are agreeing to disagree, but meanwhile the blue harvester sits unused.
The second issue was on dredging. Several members pushed hard for more action on the dredging project. Marine explained the significant costs involved ($40,000 plus) and the need to identify someone to drive the project. Neither of these concerns will be easily resolved.
Closing Remarks and Thank You to Former Directors: Marine thanked everyone who made time to attend the meeting. He stressed that the LSCCF cannot succeed without the support and engagement of its members. He urged the members to recruit others to join the Fund and to participate generously in our fundraising activities in the coming year. These will include a monthly lottery, a special fundraising drive, another fishing tournament, and a drive to raise money to cover Year 2 of the herbicide program.
Marine closed the meeting by praising the contributions of the six directors who ended their service in the past year. They are Jim Gengo, Sue Ritchie, Rick Newell, Rich Young, Jeff Somple, and David Emmons. Each of them played a part in making the LSCCF a success, but none more so than David Emmons who was a founding member of the LSCCF.