Archive for the ‘Lake Environment’ Category

Our Young Loon is Learning to Fly

Monday, October 17th, 2016

Just in time for his/her first migration.


Photo: Jim and Sharon Morgan

Q and A with Loon Expert Eric Hanson

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Inspired by the Lake Fairlee loons, Vermont’s loon expert was kind enough to answer some (mostly serious) questions for Northern Woodlands about loons generally.



Click on the image above to read the interview with Eric Hanson, a biologist for the Vermont Loon Conservation Project, on the Northern Woodlands website.

Pictures of our Loon Chick

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

Photo by Tig Tillinghast

Finally some photos of our lake’s newest resident.  S/he has been seen at many locations on the lake, in the company of one or both parents.

The juveniles are able to catch their own fish within two months and take flight at about 11 weeks. They are fully on their own at 12 weeks, when the parents begin migration in the fall. At this time, the young form flocks on northern lakes and follow suit a few weeks later. Once they reach the coastal ocean waters, the loons remain there for two years, returning in the third to the northern lakes where they were born to live a routine adult life.

The following photos were supplied by Jim and Sharon Morgan, taken from their dock, on August 24th.   The chick is probably about four weeks old.

With both parents

With both parents


They are clearly beginning flight training and the chick now dives for 10 - 15 seconds

They are clearly beginning flight training and the chick now dives for 10 – 15 seconds


Loon Update

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

The following was received from a LFA member who lives on the lake near the Loons’ nest:

“We can confirm that the two loons nesting on Lake Fairlee have hatched a single baby chick. I watched it swimming between the parents this evening in the vicinity of the sandbar where it was hatched. The parents are very attentive. Apparently they made all sorts of interesting calls throughout the night. We will keep a close eye on our lake’s newest resident!”

August 3, 2016 at 7:48:14 PM EDT

More Information on the Nesting Loons

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016


We are glad to direct you to an informative article written by our friend/neighbor/photographer who captured the photos on our earlier post.  Read it HERE.

We are hoping soon to post a photo of the newly hatched baby loons.  But we need your help, and are declaring a no-contest.  Please send your entries to  No-prizes will be awarded.

New Vermont Law Promises Healthier Lakes

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

The Shoreland Protection Act

The Vermont Legislature has passed a new law that restricts development within 250 feet of any lake in the state greater than ten acres.  The flyer below is the best summary of the Act’s provisions we have found to date.

shorelands act summary

Click above for two page summary

The law is effective beginning July 1st of this year.  The DEC is quickly gearing up to issue permits, and to field questions about the law’s terms and exceptions.  At this point it seems to us that it cannot help but benefit the lake.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Shoreland Protection Act: LINK

The full text of the new law: HERE.

New 25 page Handbook for Shoreland Development: LINK

Interesting Lake Health Piece on VPR

Friday, June 7th, 2013

On Vermont Edition this week there was a ten minute segment about lake health in Lake Memphremagog.  The part of this lake which is in Quebec is governed by strict laws protecting its shorelines.  The interviewee is a person who patrols the lake and shoreline and reports infringing construction, destruction of the buffer, etc.  Fascinating.

Click HERE.

Two More Lakeshore Properties Improved

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

This year the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife awarded the Lake Fairlee Association a grant to support our efforts to preserve and enhance our lake’s health.  By planting new shrubs and perennials we restored buffer zones on the shores of three lake residences, which will act as a filter to keep nutrients and pollutants out of the lake.  As you will have read in these posts, surface water flowing into the lake carries nitrogen and phosphorous from decayed plant matter and fertilizers, and toxic substances from pesticides and human trash.  The single best thing we can do to to keep the lake clear is to deter this runoff, best accomplished by allowing a natural ‘buffer’ to develop along the shore.  Simply by not mowing, raking, or cultivating a distance back from the shore the leaves and fallen plant matter that collect will slow the runoff and help remove unwanted contaminants.

Since our last post buffers were created on two more properties, completing the work funded by the grant.  Redwing Meadow, more recently known as the Tifft farm, has a long low shoreline.  In recent years grass has been allowed to grow tall down near the lake, excepting a mowed path or two.

Tifft's before

Tifft's after






The Snow’s property on Lakeshore Drive has a bank about three feet high above the water.  Here besides filtering runoff the roots of the woody plants will slow the erosion of the shoreline.

Snow's before

Snow's after







Now the plants are in the ground, have been mulched, and the surrounding area seeded and covered with straw. The single best thing that every lake owner can do to ensure an effective natural filter is to stop mowing, raking, and cultivating near the shoreline.  This lets leaves and detritus to collect on the ground and new seedlings to take root.  The ungroomed natural growth that results works best.

Who Made This Possible?

Money from the grant paid the cost of the plants and materials. The labor was donated by lake residents, conservation commission members, and generous neighbors.  The property owners have agreed to allow their shorelines to be used as models to show others what a lakeshore “makeover” can look like.

Some of those who helped:

  • E.C. Brown’s Nursery in Thetford provided all of the plants . . . then advised us about native choices, selected hardy individuals, and gave a generous discount.
  • Peggy Willey
  • Corey Paye
  • Julie Paye
  • Ann Stephens
  • Doug Tifft
  • Bonnie McAdam,
  • Renee Snow
  • Libby Chapin
  • John Chapin
  • Skip Brown

Thank you one and all (and any we have overlooked)

Part of the wet but happy crew at the Tifft's

Riparian Buffer Restoration Project Update

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

As described in an earlier post (LINK), one of the grants we have been awarded this year is for a demonstration project to improve the buffer along several residential shorelines around the lake. Three properties were selected, one in each of the three towns that border the lake.

Many hands make light work!


The lakeshore of the Shermans’ camp in West Fairlee received the first attention.  On Saturday, September 12th, a small group of volunteers comprised of lake residents and members of the West Fairlee Conservation Commission met on a crisp cool late summer morning.



The Shermans have a lawn right down to the lake, low enough that it can get flooded when the lake level is high.

Shermans' shoreline "before"

They have a small beach, some of which is covered by a removable deck.

Before planting

The job was accomplished in a scant two hours.  We left a four foot path, and planted a buffer on either side.  We emphasized to Lee and Norm that the single most important thing they could do would be to leave the buffer area ungroomed, unmanicured, and untended.  The leaves and detritus that accumulates on the ground constitutes nature’s best filter.

Here is the finished product.  The Shermans, who were out of town when the work was done, were thrilled with their new look.

After planting

We will be planting two more shorelines in the end of September and the beginning of October.  You can read about them when they are completed here.

Restoring a Collapsing Bank

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Progress Update on Shoreline Restoration Project

Where Robinson Hill Road is adjacent to Lake Fairlee a stretch of the shoreline has eroded significantly.  The road is poorly situated anyway, too close to the lake.  Constant wave action due to wind and powerboat wakes have undercut the bank dangerously.  And years of careless road maintenance have allowed the road to widen, reducing its distance from the lake.

In 2011 the Lake Fairlee Association was awarded a Better Backroads Grant which allowed us to reclaim some of the area between the road and the shore, and plant native shrubs and perennials there to stabilize the soil.  LINK  That initial step was successful, so this year we applied for and received another BBR grant to rebuild the bank and extend the shoreline farther towards the lake.

All the work is being done by volunteers.  Local residents and Asociation members provided much of the labor, and the town of Thetford has donated their road crew to deliver the rocks and soil.  The grant money pays for the shrubs and perennials to be planted, and for the crushed stone and soil as well.

(click on the small images to see larger ones)

September 7th


Here is what the shoreline looked like on September 7th, before any work began.





September 7th


It is hard to tell from that view how badly undercut the shoreline is, because it is obscured by the plants.  In this view you can see the erosion better.




September 13th


Here is the shoreline on September 13th.  A siltscreen is in place to reduce silting in the lake, and a large amount of crushed rock has been placed to establish a new bank.




September 17th


September 18th, a gray rainy morning.  Fabric was placed on top of the stones yesterday, in anticipation of the soil, now scheduled to arrive on Thursday.




Heavy rains forecast just when we planned to place the dirt fill on the crushed stone caused a last minute adjustment of our schedule.  We are now planning to accomplish most of the rest of the project on Thursday, September 20th. Stay tuned for updates.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So the rain came on schedule on Wednesday, and Thursday morning was bright and clear.  The Thetford road crew  delivered the fill bright and early, and spread it in an even layer over the fabric.  The plants were delivered by E.C. Brown’s Nursery.  Around 11:00am an eager crew of volunteers showed up and did the planting, seeding, mulching, and haying.  A good time was had by all.

Here is a collection of pictures from planting day:


planting day 1


planting day 2


planting day 3


planting day 4


planting day 5


planting day 6


planting day 7


planting day 8


planting day 9


planting day 10