Officials from the U.S., Canada, New York, Vermont and Quebec were in Crown Point, New York this week to renew the Lake Champlain Basin Program’s management plan for the lake.
Opportunities for Action: An Evolving Plan for the Future of the Lake Champlain Basin is the document that guides watershed management programs throughout the Lake Champlain Basin. It coordinates efforts between stakeholders in New York, Quebec and Vermont. The four primary issues addressed in the plan are clean water, ecosystems, communities and education.
This is the fourth time the plan has been renewed since it was first released in 1996. Basin Program Director Eric Howe says this iteration narrows priorities. “The last version in 2010 was extremely broad and it made it difficult to really target our resources. So with this plan I’m really hoping that we’ll be able to narrow our focus for the resources of the Basin Program over the next five years and allow us to really hone in on a few key priorities within the scope of the management plan and the collaborative nature of the watershed management effort that we have here for Lake Champlain.”
Vermont Governor Phil Scott says it was important to reaffirm the regional commitment to Lake Champlain, something he calls an invaluable resource. “We have to work in collaboration and this has been a great partnership over the years. We wanted to reestablish that relationship and make sure that we’re all on the same page, pulling in the same direction. And I think we’ve been doing that with Quebec in a number of different areas and look forward to working with New York as well. But this is a shared resource, a precious resource to all of us and if we can work together with our limited resources to make sure that we do everything in conjunction with each other the benefits will be able to be measured in not too many years to come. So I’m looking forward to this new renewed partnership.”
Governor Scott, EPA Region 2 Acting Regional Administrator Catherine McCabe and EPA Region 1 Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro signed the documents to renew the multinational and multistate agreement.
Clarenceville, Quebec Mayor Renee Rouleau represents her county on the Lake Champlain Basin Committee. She says the lake must be managed without worrying about borders. “We have about the same culture, okay. We share a nice history together. And it links us together and it gives the opportunity for the federal government from Canada and from the U.S. to work together.”
Tom Berry is a Field Representative for Vermont U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy. He says the basin program remains strong 25 years after its authorizing legislation was implemented, despite potential federal budget cuts. “The geographic areas programs that we’re part of, and you can look at Long Island Sound, Puget Sound, the Great Lakes Program, are really important in generating this kind of continuity between states and among leadership. And Senator Leahy in his current role as the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, the highest ranking Democrat, is going to make continuation not only of the Lake Champlain program but of the other geographic areas programs and the Great Lakes programs a high priority.”