What does State of the Lake 2015
The release of the 2015 State of the Lake and Ecosystems Indicators Report comes at a time when interest in and concern for water quality and ecosystem integrity in the Lake Champlain Basin are at an all-time high. Lake Champlain stewardship has been the focus of renewed investment in funding and legislation for watershed management in all sectors. Public concern for the future of the Lake also is at a peak and public commentary about lake issues has been energetic, enthusiastic and, at times, angry. A growing number of citizens is recognizing that the condition of Lake Champlain—the State of the Lake—requires a serious revitalization of management and a basinwide public commitment to reduce pollution. With public concern growing and far-reaching legislative initiatives and improved enforcement capacity established, it’s timely for the LCBP to provide the most recent available information on the condition of Lake Champlain.
The previous edition of the State of the Lake report, published in 2012, came on the heels of the historic flooding of the previous year. The impacts of the record-breaking spring flooding of 2011, and Tropical Storm Irene later in the summer, were just beginning to be understood at that time. In the three years since that last report, much new data has been collected. Scientists have gained a better understanding of the water quality and ecological impacts of the floods, and resource managers and policy makers have made strides in enacting public policy to prepare for and mitigate the environmental and economic effects of future flood events.
The state, or condition, of the lake ecosystem—the focus of this report—is one of the primary components of the Pressure-State-Response framework adopted by the LCBP for assessing and managing Basin resources. To understand why this condition (or State) exists, we track human activities that can exert “Pressures,” which can result in complex, long-term, and cumulative ecosystem impacts. Changes to the “State” that result from these “Pressures” often elicit a management “Response,” such as new environmental policies or management actions. Proper resource management can reduce pressures to bring about a more desirable “State” of the Lake.
The State of the Lake report uses an Ecosystem Indicators Scorecard to provide information about the condition of the ecosystem with a set of measures that represent, or indicate, its overall state. These indicators address the key priorities or goals of the Lake Champlain management plan Opportunities for Action. The indicators were chosen with the guidance of dozens of scientists and state, provincial, and federal technical experts, as the best indicators for which there are adequate data to evaluate.