About the Lake St. Catherine Conservation Fund

For the sake of the lake…

The LSCCF is an organization dedicated to the renewal of the Lake St. Catherine Lake system in the towns of Wells and Poultney, Vermont.

We welcome your interest and encourage your participation in our cause.  Please browse around our web site and consider becoming a member.  We believe that we can bring about a bright and lasting future of generations to come.

Read more on our Restoration Plan page


The LSCCF Lake Restoration Plan: Reduce Eurasian Watermilfoil

Environmental Remediation of Eurasian Watermilfoil without Toxic Herbicides.

Eurasian watermilfoil has been plaguing the lake since the early 80’s. It interferes with swimming, boating, fishing and waterskiing. Its ability to reproduce from fragments and spread rapidly, its high growth rate, and its tendency to reach the surface and form extensive mats at the surface can allow this milfoil to shade and out-compete native vegetation while providing a good habitat for mosquitoes. Milfoil mats can rob oxygen from the water by preventing the wind from mixing the oxygenated surface waters into deeper water. This can limit the growth of snails that would feed on the organic sediment if oxygen were available. Oxygen-depleted sediments release large quantities of phosphorus and nitrogen, averaging three times the amount coming in from watersheds. The dense mats of vegetation also increase the sedimentation rate.

Eurasian watermilfoil does not only receive its fertilizer from the sediment, but also from the water column. This milfoil can grow just as well whether the thread is attached to the bottom or not, and can reproduce from one-inch fragments made by boat motors or during weed harvesting.

Eurasian watermilfoil can extract carbon dioxide directly from the water or from carbonates in the water, which gives this milfoil a definite advantage over many other plants. Other advantages are its one-year faster seed germination period than other plants. Eurasian watermilfoil has the ability for the seeds to withstand drying for one year, compared to 3 — 4 months for other plants. Its fruits withstand freezing. It can grow in more alkaline waters and grow up to two inches a day.

As with other plants, however, EW has weaknesses that make it subject to environmental remediation without the use of toxic herbicides. It must grow in nutrient rich water with high alkalinity. It needs high levels of ammonia. EW also requires large amounts of carbon dioxide. Eurasian watermilfoil can grow in up to twenty feet of water. The dense weed growth prevents wind and waves from oxygenating a large portion of lakes and ponds from spring until fall. While aquatic plants exhaust oxygen into the water during the day, they take up oxygen when photosynthesis reverses at night. The presence of organic sediment in a lake or pond confirms a lack of oxygen at night and during extended periods of the year.

Environmental Remediation of Milfoil without Unhealthy Herbicide or Ineffective Weed Harvesting

By removing carbon dioxide from the water, aeration shifts bicarbonates in the water to carbonates in which the carbon dioxide is unavailable for plant growth. This controls milfoil by environmental remediation without harmful herbicides.

Asked about the success of this type of remediation, some have observed, “Eurasian watermilfoil was in several lakes and ponds that we put the system in, and it is not present in any treated lakes or ponds now.”

Eurasian watermilfoil can be controlled using environmental remediation without unhealthy herbicide. With toxic herbicides, the milfoil comes back, usually worse than before and must be poisoned again. With environmental remediation, Eurasian watermilfoil never comes back. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to control milfoil on Lake St. Catherine with weed harvesters and toxic herbicide, and its growth is now worse than ever.

Eurasian watermilfoil was first introduced to a pond in Washington, DC in 1942, and to the Midwest between the 1950s and 1980s. The United States Geological Survey believes that Eurasian watermilfoil was introduced as a food source for waterfowl. It prefers nutrient-rich lakes, ponds and reservoirs. Eurasian watermilfoil forms tangled mats of weed growth both up to twenty feet below the surface and up to the surface of the water, and crowds out native aquatic plants.

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A Note From Our President

We trust that our summer season finds you well and enjoying warmer weather. The past 12 months have been eventful and promising towards our goal of a restored Lake Saint Catherine. In this brief letter, I will update you on the challenges we face, the progress to date and the next steps.

The Challenges

The Lake Saint Catherine chain of lakes is stressed by a combination of factors. Invasive species and notably Eurasian water milfoil (EWM) get the most attention, but it is clear we need to be ever watchful of other ‘invasives.’ EWM is getting attention from various treatment methods, and additional methods will be employed in the near future. But there are additional challenges.

The shallow water conditions most notable in the Little Lake are a continuing concern. The myth that the Little Lake has always been this way has been destroyed by our research that demonstrates that un-decomposed organic material and silt have filled in this deep lake formed during the glacial period. It has taken 10,000 years to fill in Little Lake, which is over 40 feet deep in the north. The current shallow conditions promote plant growth from shore to shore that leads to an even shallower lake. Our recent project progress points towards a solution.

Finally, the stress of development around our lake is serious. Improper shoreland development leads sediment to flow into our lake from roads, building sites and beaches. We are concerned about the condition of septic fields around our lake and the extent that failed systems are contributing unwelcome nutrients to the lake. H.526 Shoreland Protection Bill is now law and regulates all shoreland up to 250 feet inland. This top down control system will be further defined in the coming months and we will keep you updated. We are one of eight lake associations that have joined together in a state-wide non-profit called “The Coalition of Vermont Lakes, Inc.” (TCVL) TOIL will be more involved at a state level to monitor and influence effective lake health legislation.

The Progress

We have persevered in our pursuit of permits that allow us to treat and restore the State of Vermont’s lake. We receive no funding from the State of Vermont and inexplicably have experienced significant delays on our permit applications. Our hydraulic dredging project for the northwest corner of the Little Lake took four years to receive a permit, even though the project was suggested in part by Vermont Agency of Natural Resources staff. Nevertheless, we have persevered and now hold four permits from the state — an expanded aeration project, another hydro-raking permit, a project to introduce weevils to fight EWM, and the hydraulic dredging project.

The aeration project that took 18 months to receive a permit for has now operated for a season and half. The results are promising with over 2 feet in depth gained at some diffuser locations. We now have a three year permit that expands the aeration zone from 9 diffusers to 13. If we can continue to make progress in increasing the depth in the aeration zone we will have fewer plants congesting the lake and a treatment method that can apply elsewhere in Lake Saint Catherine and other lakes in Vermont.

The Next Steps

Our aeration project began its new season in May powering 13 diffusers with careful monitoring. We are hopeful that the results of the first season and a half will be replicated and even accelerate. Our hydro-raking project kicked off in mid-June and provided shoreline relief to those owners who applied through us. The weevil project began in late June and will test the theory that we can successfully breed weevils and eventually reduce EWM over several years. Finally, our hydraulic dredging project, the largest project we have ever considered, will enter serious fund-raising activity this summer with a goal of starting wort summer 2015.

Join us, contribute, help out practically and visit our web site often. All questions are most welcome in our organization. We look forward to seeing each of you soon, if not at a meeting then out on the lake.

For the sake of the Lake,

Bill Steinmetz

President LSCCF & President TOIL