Progress on the Dam

July 25th, 2016

Work continues on the dam.  The house has been moved up on top of the columns we saw in the last pictures, right back in its original location, but about three feet higher.  Support pedestals have been built on top of the auxiliary spillway, which will support the new, safer, steel walkway out to the camp.


Photos from August 20th have been added to the Dam Chronology page HERE.

Reconstruction of the Dam is Underway

July 18th, 2016

Yes, it is a surprise, and a very pleasant one, too.

The Tri-Town Commission has engaged a contractor, Hebert Excavation Company, of Williamstown, VT, which began work in late May.  They say that the project should be complete by the end of the summer.

(click on any of the photos to view a larger image)

May 18th

Temporary Dam

A temporary dam was constructed just upstream of the Robinson Hill Road bridge.


The water level was lowered by about four feet, exposing much of the concrete portion of the dam.  The house is still in place.  The “Shady House” (shack) at the near (north) end of the dam has been moved out of the way.

June 22nd


The house has been moved off its historic foundations, sliding south about 25 feet.


Most of the portion of the dam north of the house has been removed.  The portion that used to be under the house still remains.  Fill has been introduced into the cove, making a platform from which the construction machinery can reach the dam.


From this angle you can see the crane out in what was the cove.  The primary spillway is not underneath the house.  Later in the process the house will be moved back to the right (north) and the final portion of the dam will be demolished and rebuilt.

July 6


They are replacing the dam in sections, starting at the north (near) end.  Here they are already pouring some concrete in the first section.


At the far right are the forms and steel ready for pouring.  The big white marshmallow looking things to the left are to keep the water out of the near end where they are pouring.


The view from the southeast.  The cement apparatus is visible in the distance.


Detail here of the steel and forms ready for pouring.

July 16


Work continues across the dam.  This is the first shot that clearly shows the new bulkhead at the near end of the dam.  The digger is almost to the place where the house belongs.


Looking back at the construction.  A second look at the new bulkhead.





2015 Year End Milfoil Report Now Available

July 8th, 2016

Better late than never?

The Lake Fairlee Association holds a permit from the State of Vermont that governs all phases of our milfoil control activities – including hand pulling, suction harvesting, bottom barriers, herbicide treatment, and our greeter/prevention program.  This permit requires that we conduct annual surveys of plant life in the lake, and that we file a report with the state annually.

Since 2010 we have contracted with (licensed) companies to conduct our various milfoil control activities, and they have been primarily responsible for filing these annual reports. The 2015 report was not completed and filed until July this year.  Nonetheless it contains lots of detail about Lake Fairlee’s milfoil program.  We provide it here for your information.

Click on image to download report (.pdf)

Click on image to download report (.pdf)

Lake Fairlee Dam Project on Hold

July 25th, 2015
[this article was published in the Valley News and is excerpted here for private use only]

By Maggie Cassidy, Valley News Staff Writer

Friday, July 24, 2015, (Published in print: Saturday, July 25, 2015)

Contractor Parts Ways After Dispute

Thetford — The long-planned project to replace the ailing Lake Fairlee Dam this summer abruptly halted this week after the contractor and the three towns involved — Thetford, Fairlee and West Fairlee — parted ways over a dispute about the unsigned construction contract.

Speaking for the towns, Fairlee Selectboard Chairman Frank J. Barrett Jr. said the $850,000 project, which voters in the three towns approved through bond votes in May, would go back out to bid next year.

This winter, the towns plan to sandbag the dam, which is located in Thetford and controls Lake Fairlee’s shoreline, he said.

[ . . . ]

You are invited to read the rest of this longish article HERE.  The Valley News encourages you to visit their website, where everyone can read one article for free, and up to five per month at no cost by providing an email address.


Where We Treated in 2015, and Why

June 19th, 2015

Chemical control of Eurasian milfoil is strictly regulated by the State.  According to the conditions of our permit we are allowed to apply triclopyr only to those “portions of the lake where EWM is too abundant (moderate to dense) to be cost-effectively managed using non-chemical techniques and is highly susceptible to fragmentation and continued spread.”  The state determines those locations based on the required quantitative aquatic plant survey from the previous fall.  Here are the results of that survey.  Red dots indicate dense milfoil, yellow is moderate, green is sparse, and empty circles indicate no milfoil found at that location.

2014 fall survey map

Click on map for larger image

These surveys are designed to take statistically accurate samples.  They do not report every instance of observed milfoil.  Rather they collect plant samples from a predetermined grid of locations and observe all the species present.  This allows the State (and us) to measure long term changes on all plant populations in the lake, to preclude unanticipated effects of the herbicide use.

Here are the results of the pre-treatment survey done this May.  For this survey every instance of observed milfoil was recorded.  Again, red circles are dense patches, etc.  This map also shows the areas approved for herbicide application.  For the most part they coincide with many of the densest growths of milfoil.

spring survey

Click on map for larger image

The herbicide was applied in the indicated areas on Tuesday, June 16th.  Note that not every location where there is milfoil was treated.  To those (including the author) whose littoral zone contains milfoil but was not treated, we offer apologies and hope that you understand the constraints under which these treatments are done.  We understand that there are divers who are experienced with Eurasian milfoil removal who can be hired to clear it from your shoreline.

More about the Herbicide Application

June 18th, 2015

renovate otfThe herbicide is delivered in 40 pound bags that look like they might contain fertilizer.  Although we are only putting a very little bit of chemical in the water, we want it to be absorbed at or near the roots of the plants so far as possible.  So the chemical comes blended in pellets of chunks of clay, which will sink to the bottom before dissolving and releasing their active ingredient.

P1050350_SnapseedIt is poured into hoppers on the back of the boat.  Under each of these there is a powered spinning disk that spreads the pellets several yards either side of the boat.  (click on the thumbnail to enlarge)  The driver follows a programmed course that zigs and zags back and forth to cover the designated treatment area.  And the speed of the boat and the hoppers’ flow rates are regulated to ensure that the herbicide is delivered at the desired concentration.

Dam Vote Passes — Construction to Proceed this Summer

May 20th, 2015

On May 19th the towns of Fairlee, Thetford, and West Fairlee each approved ballot measures which will allow them to proceed with the rebuilding of the Lake Fairlee dam this summer.  The measures were supported by 76% of the voters in Fairlee, by 78% in Thetford, and by 85% in West Fairlee.  This result is most gratifying to those of us who have devoted many hours over the past three years learning what could be done for the dam and developing a plan to bring it about.  It also represents a welcome level of cooperation among the three towns that we hope can be replicated in other areas.

The contractor is set to begin work on the dam sometime in mid June.  Recreational use of the lake should not be affected at all.  In the near future each town will select delegates to the new Tri-Town Commission which will take over responsibility for the dam in the future.  We will keep you advised of our progress.

Thank you to all who helped make this happen.  Today’s decisions are a victory for our lake’s ecosystem, for fiscal sustainability, and for common sense.


Questions and Answers about the Proposed Dam Reconstruction

May 20th, 2015

The Tri-Town Committee posted an informative response to questions raised by the public in the run up to the vote last Tuesday.  You can read them HERE.

Milfoil Density Map for Herbicide Treatment

May 19th, 2015
click above for larger

click above for larger

The conditions of our State issued Aquatic Nuisance Control Permit only allows us to apply the herbicide where the milfoil growth is moderate or dense.  The attached map reflects data collected last September, but conditions probably have not changed significantly since then.  Another survey has been completed in the past week.  Those results will govern the treatment locations on June 16th.  We will share them here when we can.

Herbicide Treatment Scheduled for Tuesday, June 16th

May 19th, 2015

Due to the harsh winter and late ice-out in the northeast, the plant growth in the lakes behind previous years. As we know, the Milfoil must be growing for the herbicide treatment to be effective. We had previously had a soft treatment date of June 8, 2015 however that is now not an option. Our treatment contractor is moving the treatment date back a week to 6/16/15 in order to have the best efficacy as possible. The more growth of the Milfoil, the more effective the treatment. The lake will be surveyed in the coming days to confirm.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause however it is in all of our best interest for the treatment not to fail.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As with previous treatments, the lake will be closed to all uses for the day of the treatment and the day following.  On Thursday June 18th recreational use may resume.  This includes swimming, boating, fishing, etc.  We recommend not using lake water to irrigate your lawn for several weeks, however.  The herbicide (triclopyr) is a plant hormone which is very safe for us (humans, pets, etc) but toxic to certain kinds of plants.