Archive for the ‘Greeter Program’ Category

Showing that our Greeter Program Works!

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

[following is an email dated August 6th, 2010, that speaks for itself]

Hi Libby,

I just received the sample you submitted that came from a boat inspected by your access area greeter, Liza.  The plant specimen is not Eurasian watermilfoil.  In fact, the specimen is fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana), an invasive plant not known to occur in Vermont, although there are known populations in neighboring states – including Massachusetts, from where the boat apparently came.

The only known populations of this plant in northern New England are in southern NH, but it has been introduced fairly widely in southern New England (MA, Conn, RI) and southern NY.  If the boat did not come from a waterbody with a known infestation it could indicate a new infestation that has not previously been detected.  It would be good to find out the specific waterbody this boat came from so that I can alert my colleagues in Massachusetts in case they aren’t aware of the infestation, and to let them know there may be a spread prevention issue for them as well.  If you could find that out for me I’d much appreciate it – or feel free to have Liza contact me directly.  Also, if this is a boat that makes frequent trips back and forth between Fairlee and an infested water in Massachusetts, it would be good to be sure that the boater is well educated about the importance of careful spread prevention.  Perhaps Liza will know whether this boat is a frequent visitor to Fairlee, or whether this was a one-time visit, and how receptive the boater was to her spread prevention information.

Hats off to Liza! This was a really important “save”!!!  It would be a shame to see this invasive plant (fanwort) become established in Fairlee or anywhere else in Vermont.  Although the plant was a little bit dried out when I received it, I believe it could have been sufficiently “alive” when Liza collected it to have been viable, and this plant fragment could have conceivably introduced this species into Fairlee.  This is what greeter programs and spread prevention are all about!  Well done!

[ . . . ]

Once again, congratulations on your successful greeter program, and thanks for all your efforts to protect Vermont’s waters!

Best regards,

Leslie J. Matthews, Ph.D.
Environmental Scientist
Water Quality Division
Department of Environmental Conservation

How to Keep the Milfoil from Returning

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

The herbicide appears to have worked its magic, and our milfoil is lying on the bottom of the lake in decay.  We know that this situation is only temporary, that the milfoil will return, sooner of later.  There are several things we can do to slow its return.

One of these is to prevent the introduction of new plants and fragments into the lake.  This most commonly occurs when a boat enters Lake Fairlee, having recently visited another lake.  Unless the boater is careful to wash off his boat, his motor, and his gear, fragments of Eurasian milfoil can wash off in our lake and can take root.  That is how a new infestation starts.

Many states have laws requiring that every boat be washed before entering a new lake.  Still more have nearby wash stations for the convenience of boaters.  We support both of these ideas, and will work to bring them to Lake Fairlee.

Greeter Program

Over the past three summers we have introduced and expanded our Greeter Program.  Our goal was to have someone stationed at the boat ramp during prime access hours to inform boaters about the threat of milfoil to our lake and others.  In the first years it was staffed by volunteers, and more recently by part time employees.  This summer Liza McEvoy represented us every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Our "Greeter," Liza, at her station by the lake

Unfortunately our greeter has no real authority, and cannot do more than advise boaters.  She asks each one if she can help them perform a “courtesy inspection,” and she shows them what to look for and where.  She explains about the threat and potential cost of new invasive species to our lake and to others.  She is our ambassador to the outside world, the only thing besides the ubiquitous “Warning” signs that many non-residents know about the Lake Fairlee Association.

The following is a handout that Liza has available for visitors:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES FACT SHEET

MOST COMMON PATHWAYS THAT INTRODUCE NEW SPECIES:

  1. Canals and waterways (shipping) – (e.g. From the Great Lakes on ship hull to Lake Champlain. From Lake Champlain to a boat trailer and then to a new body of water)
  2. Overland transport (trailers)
  3. Fishermen’s felt-soled gaters, boots, gear
  4. Introduced as ornamentals  (ex. Loosestrife)
  5. Aquariums (releasing aquarium fish, plants or water into lake, river, etc.)
  6. Ducks and geese
  7. Illegal stocking (e.g. “alewives”) Need to have a permit to release any fish into water.

THE BIG THREE AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES IN VERMONT:

1. Eurasian Milfoil (looks very similar to many native milfoils)

  • crowds out native spceies
  • can produce dense mats over the surface
  • reproduces rapidly through fragmentation
  • 64 lakes and ponds, and 25 other bodies of water in VT have Eurasian milfoil
  • 2-3 new infestations are reported each year

***NEW invasive milfoil found last year in one location –  Hall’s Pond, in Newbury, VT. “Variable-leaved Milfoil” is more difficult to control than Eurasian Milfoil.

2. Water Chestnut

  • floating clusters create a dense canopy on the surface which allows no light        through. This kills all the native plants beneath.
  • Spreads by seeds. It’s an annual plant, but one seed can live in the sediment for 10 years (!). The plants must be harvested BEFORE they go to seed for management to be effective.

3. Zebra Mussels

  • Native to the Caspian Sea. Came to U.S. via international shipping into through Lake Champlain Canal. Young zebra mussels are microscopic. They can be transported via water so bilges and bait buckets should be cleaned, and water in motor should be drained. They can get entangled in plant material, so remove all plants. If they attach to boat hulls, they may be invisible but can be felt if you run your hand across the surface.

OTHER AQUATIC THREATS:

1. Didymo (common name= “rock snot”)

  • Algae that prefers moving water and rocky bottoms, but could float down to our outlet stream where it could settle and multiply…then move to the Ompompanoosuc and into the CT River. Didymo is already in the White River and CT River – so boats traveling here after being in either river could bring it to the lake. Didymo is microscopic and is most often carried unknowingly on boat hulls and felt-soled fishing boots and waders. Cells will thrive in moist conditions for weeks unless boats and gear are washed thoroughly and dried in the sun for 5 days.

2. Baitfish

  • VHS is a coldwater fish virus that causes bleeding and large scale mortality in fish and 36 other aquatic species. Once it is found in a lake, you cannot get rid of it. The virus can be carried in a live well from one body of water to another. Emptying and cleaning live wells will help keep the virus from spreading.

IF FISH ARE TRANSFERRED FROM ONE BODY OF WATER TO ANOTHER, THEY CAN SPREAD VHS WHILE SHOWING NO EXTERNAL SYMPTOMS. Buy baitfish ONLY at certified dealers:

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife web site lists certified baitfish dealers: http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com/fish_baitdealers.cfm

  • Fisherman are allowed to harvest baitfish ONLY on the lake in which they fish in. Do not transport baitfish to another body of water.
  • Alewives have been responsible for huge fishkills on Lake Champlain and elsewhere.
  • Rusty Crayfish (red spot on side) are harmful. They have been found in Lake Morey. Native crayfish are okay. Buying baitfish at a state-approved distributor will help ensure the right kind of crayfish.

CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS (WHEN MOVING BOAT TO NEW BODY OF WATER):

1. Always remove debris and plants from:

  • propeller
  • trolling motor (check shaft)
  • transom
  • trailer lights and license plates
  • behind wheel wells
  • hitch and auto bumper
  • bunks on trailer
  • axle
  • chains
  • fishing gear
  • anchors

2. Always drain the bilge and live wells.

3. If possible, rinse boat with hose or dry in sun for 5 days.

4. Even better, power wash with soapy water at a car wash or at home.

ABOUT THE LAKE FAIRLEE ASSOCIATION

The LFA has used the traditional 3-weapon offense against Eurasian milfoil in the past: hand-pulling by divers, bottom barriers, and use of a suction harvester. However, these methods could not keep pace with the exponential spread of milfoil. The decision was made this year to treat the lake with an herbicide which targets milfoil specifically. You can learn more about the research that led to this new strategy, and about the permit issued by the state DEC Water Quality Division, by going to our blog via our website (www.lakefairlee.org). Based on the post-treatments assessments on Lake Morey after they used the same herbicide, we are hopeful that Lake Fairlee will experience similar success.

The lake does NOT have zebra mussels or other invasive species yet, but that is why it is so important to wash your boat and trailer before coming on to this lake from another body of water. Lake Champlain has many more invasive species than milfoil and we want to keep Lake Fairlee free of other nuisance plants/animals.

Join The Lake Fairlee Association and become involved in preserving the lake.

If you are interested in joining or learning more about the lake association, write your name and address on the sign up sheet with the Greeter and go to www.lakefairlee.org. There will be a link to our blog that will have updated information about upcoming events, some history, education, and more.        

2009 Greeter Program Report

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

This is the third year of our Greeter/Education initiative at the boat launch. After two years of attempting to “man” the launch with a short, and ever diminishing, roster of  revolving volunteers, the Lake Fairlee Association Board decided that we needed to budget for a paid greeter this summer. This would improve the educational benefits by maintaining some quality control: a consistent, well-informed message would be delivered in a consistently non-threatening way and hopefully, the logs would be more complete for more accurate data collection. Administratively, having a paid greeter we could count on would simplify things: there would be one training session at the beginning of the season rather than a quick overview with each new volunteer, and it would eliminate the constant angst of trying to schedule volunteers during busy summer weekends. We were fortunate enough to find a mature finish carpenter/law student, Aaron Gilbert, who grew up going to camp on the lake, lives locally and is a scuba diver by avocation. His wife is on the Thetford Conservation Commission, and they are both committed to preserving Lake Fairlee.

Program Details

The Board had budgeted for 14 weekends, including the 3-day holiday weekend of Labor Day in September. However, due to an unusually wet summer, our greeter worked on only 21 Saturdays and Sundays, starting the first weekend in June and ending on the Monday of Labor Day. He worked at the launch a total if 91 hrs.,  making personal contact with boaters (most likely 2 or more people/boat) from 209 different vessels ranging from canoes and kayaks, sail boats, recreation boats and fishing boats. Aaron gave each boater the following handouts:

  • The Lake Fairlee Association Fact Sheet (1.5 pgs. of information that has been culled from the past three years of Greeter Workshop Presentations at the DEC in Montpelier)
  • Instructions for washing boats
  • A map if Vermont bodies of water, with specific locations of invasive species
  • A map of N.H. bodies of water with specific locations of invasive species
  • A “STOP AQUATIC HITCHIKERS!” sticker from the  U.S. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Service to put on each boat trailer hitch as a reminder to check their boats when leaving a body of water, and to wash thoroughly.

Greeter Logs

Aaron conscientiously completed the Greeter Log each day he was at the ramp. The data he collected revealed a few interesting facts.

  • Boaters from 8 of the vessels were unaware of invasive species
  • He found milfoil on 5 boats as they left Lake Fairlee, thus preventing Eurasian Milfoil to hitchhike on these boats to another body of water.
  • 11 boats, which had not been washed after being on another body of water,  entered Lake Fairlee. In reality, this number could be higher, since boaters (through our education and other lake’s programs) know it is preferable  to say their boat has been washed.
  • The “unwashed boats” came from other bodies of water that have known invasive species (ie., 6 from lake Morey, 2 from the CT. River, 1 from Mascoma Lake).
  • The majority of boats coming to Lake Fairlee that were last on other bodies of water came from either Lake Morey (27 boats) or the CT River (31 boats).
  • 5 boats came to Lake Fairlee after being on Lake Champlain where they have more invasive species than Eurasian Milfoil.
  • 4 boats came from Hall’s Pond in Newbury, VT where variable-leaf milfoil has been discovered recently.
  • The boaters who were most interested in our Greeter Program came from  Lake Champlain, the Androscoggin River in Maine, the Bay of Fundy (!), Groton Pond, and Harvey Lake. All of these boaters were keenly aware of the issue of invasive species and came from lakes or rivers where there are already strong prevention programs at work, and/or they have state laws mandating the washing of boats.

Training for Boating Counselors

The Lake Fairlee Greeter Program extended its spread prevention awareness this summer to the 5 summer camps on the lake. A workshop was coordinated with Leslie Matthews of the DEC at the beginning of the summer. Boating counselors from two of the camps attended the workshop, listened to the presentation and received handouts to bring back to the camps to “spread the word” to their camp community. A folder of handouts was personally delivered to the three camps which were unable to send counselors to the workshop explaining the importance and relevance of spread prevention in their boat departments. Efforts will continue next summer to more fully engage these three camps.

Overall, the board feels that the greeter program makes an impact each summer. In a perfect world we would have a greeter at the launch daily,  from Memorial Day through Labor Day, delivering a powerfully cogent message to instill a “wash before you float” ethic within each boater. More importantly perhaps, we would have a wash station nearby and state sanctions imposed on boaters to enforce following such an ethic.

Greeter Program Grows in Second Season

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

2008 was the second summer of our ‘Greeter’ program.  We believe that educating lake users is an important part of combating the spread of milfoil.  Our volunteers teach boaters about milfoil and how it spreads so that they can take preventive measures such as cleaning and inspecting their boats and equipment.

A LAKE FAIRLEE VOLUNTEER GREETER HANDS A FLYER TO A VISITING FISHER

Our goal was to have a trained volunteer stationed at the boat ramp every Saturday and Sunday during peak hours.  We had trouble getting enough volunteers to provide the coverage we wanted.   Providing adequate training was very labor intensive, as we often had to provide the training one at a time.  We are in contact with other lakes, and are learning from their experience.

In spite of these difficulties, the program is growing and is having a beneficial effect.  Many of the people the greeters speak to are surprised by some of what they learn and express their gratitude for the information.  Next year we hope to be able to find funds to hire a regular (part time) greeter so we won’t have to lean so heavily on our (small number of) volunteers.

New “Greeter” Program at the Lake Fairlee Boat Launch

Friday, September 21st, 2007

This summer the Lake Fairlee Association started a Greeter Program at the state boat launch. The goal of the initiative was to raise the awareness of boaters about all aspects of milfoil, the tenacious plant that is taking hold on the bottom of Lake Fairlee. Numerous other lakes and ponds around New England have similar programs.

The program focused on sharing of information. It took the early part of the summer to get the state permit and guidelines in place. Then, beginning in mid-July, volunteers spent several hours each Saturday and Sunday greeting boaters. They asked boaters if they were aware of the milfoil problem in the lake, and shared general information about the plant.

Two key discussion points were how to avoid spreading the plant within Lake Fairlee and how not to unintentionally take it from our lake to another body of water. Boaters were then handed a pamphlet which had bulleted directions on how to clean boat bottoms, motors, trailers, fishing gear, and diving gear after leaving any body of water. The information pamphlet also highlighted a notice about the $199 fine that the state will impose upon anyone who transports invasive aquatic species from one body of water to another.

The Greeter Program continued through the end of August. Response was very positive. With one exception the interactions were consistently friendly and informative. The boaters appreciated the crash course to prevent the spread of milfoil and many were surprised to learn that there was a state fine. The volunteers felt good that they were able to do something concrete to contribute to the preservation of Lake Fairlee.

We are indebted to the many people who volunteered their time and energy to get this program off the ground. Next summer we hope to get an earlier start and reach more boaters.