Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lake Stewardship:A Resident’s Guide to Understanding, Protecting, Restoring and Managing Lake & Pond Water Quality

I am writing a book on lake stewardship based on my 20+ years of experience managing lakes and working with lake stewards across the United States. I've included an excerpt from the introduction that tells a bit more about the why and what of this book. There are several good references out there that provide the nuts and bolts, and I intend to provide some of that as well. More importantly, I hope to distill my experience into a valuable and unique resource for those of you out there who live on and care about lakes. As the book progresses, I will likely share portions on-line here. Meanwhile, feel free to write me, the Wandering Limnologist, and tell me what are your main questions and concerns so that I can continue to provide answers on this blog (see Ask the Wandering Limnologist post) and further refine the book so it meets your needs.

Managing your lake or pond is going to be the most demanding socio-politico-economic-environmental undertaking in your life. Say goodbye to summers spent swinging in the hammock and hello to squabbles with seasonal friends and neighbors, endless meetings, . . . Well, it’s not all bad. Your lakefront property is an investment that needs protecting, an economic investment related to your retirement, a legacy to leave your offspring. While complicated at times and fraught with the real potential for conflict, acting as good stewards of your lake is one of the most rewarding ways you can spend your valuable free time.

The purpose of this book is to get you up to speed on lake stewardship by sharing my lake management knowledge accumulated through more than two decades of experience working on literally hundreds of lakes and ponds across the eastern half of the United States. You will learn important aspects about lake ecology and water quality. You will learn how your presence on the shore of a lake impacts lake ecology and water quality. You will learn the things you can do to preserve your lake. And you will learn about the things you can do if you need to restore your lake to a more pristine condition. While the science of applied limnology, the study of freshwater systems, and lake management can be complicated, I will do my best to present this material in a way that helps you understand what is going on beneath the surface of your lake.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pulling Together Initiative seeks proposals that will help control invasive plant species

The Pulling Together Initiative has issued a Request for Proposals that will help control invasive plant species, mostly through the work of public/private partnerships such as Cooperative Weed Management Areas. PTI applications are accepted from private non-profit (501)(c) organizations, local, county, and state government agencies, and from field staff of federal government agencies. Individuals and for-profit businesses are not eligible to receive PTI grants, but are encouraged to work with eligible applicants to develop and submit applications to PTI.

PTI grants provide an opportunity to initiate working partnerships and demonstrate successful collaborative efforts such as the development of permanent funding sources for Weed Management Areas. To be competitive, a project must:
  • prevent, manage, or eradicate invasive and noxious plants through a coordinated program of public/private partnerships; and 
  • increase public awareness of the adverse impacts of invasive and noxious plants. 
Successful PTI projects:
  • Focus on a particular well-defined area, such as a watershed, ecosystem, landscape, county or Weed Management Area. 
  • Target a specific and measurable conservation outcome.
  • Are supported by private landowners, state and local governments, and the regional/state offices of federal agencies. 
  • Have a project Steering Committee composed of local cooperators who are committed to working together to manage invasive and noxious plants across their jurisdictional boundaries. 
  • Have a clear long-term weed management plan which is based on an integrated pest management approach using the principles of ecosystem management. 
  • Include a specific, ongoing, and adaptive public outreach and education component.
Special consideration for funding will be given to projects that:
  • Address invasive species threats impacting one of the NFWF Keystone Initiative focal topics including for example:
• Eastern North America Early Successional Habitat (Wildlife and Habitat, Birds)
• Prairie Couteau Grasslands (Wildlife and Habitat)
• Sky Islands Grasslands (Wildlife and Habitat)
• Gunnison sage-grouse (Birds)
• Southeastern Grasslands (Birds)
• Seabirds (Birds)
• Shortgrass Prairie (Birds)
• Colorado River Fishes (Fish)
  • Address invasive plant management through an Early Detection/Rapid Response approach.
For additional information about each of these Keystone Initiatives, visit

Application Procedures

PTI Applicants must complete the online pre-proposal application form at

The pre-proposal form deadline is June 30, 2009.

Applicants that are invited to submit a full proposal will receive instructions via e-mail for accessing the full proposal form. Full proposals are due on September 30, 2009.

Project Timetable
  • June 30, 2009 • Pre-proposal deadline.
  • September 30, 2009 • Full proposal deadline. 
  • January 29, 2010 • Formal announcement of award recipients.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Free "Wetlands – Reconnecting Youth with Nature." Webcast May 28th in celebration of American Wetlands Month

EPA’s Watershed Academy is sponsoring a free May 28th Webcast Seminar entitled "Wetlands – Reconnecting Youth with Nature" in celebration of American Wetlands Month. 

As more Americans dwell in cities and suburbs, our society has become increasingly distanced from the natural world. More sedentary lifestyles, a reliance on electronic devices for creative play and entertainment, more structured "free-time" and less opportunity to explore outside have only added to this separation for children. The absence of everyday connections with nature can have a very negative effect – if our youth don't have meaningful experiences with nature, how will they come to care for and appreciate it and spearhead the next generation of environmental stewardship? 

Join us for a special American Wetlands Month Webcast as we explore this issue, hear about their efforts to change these trends, and discuss the unique role wetlands can play in reconnecting young people with nature. The Webcast will feature Richard Louv, distinguished author and Chairman of the Children and Nature Network; Suzanne Pittenger-Slear, President and CEO of Environmental Concern Inc.; and Davon Kenneth Johnson, Earth Conservation Corps. 

To register for the free Webcast, please visit

Thursday, May 21, 2009

EPA's WaterSense Program Revises Draft Specification for Single Family New Homes

The WaterSense program has refined its draft labeling specification for single-family new homes (initially released in May 2008). The revised draft specification addresses efficient plumbing fixtures, hot water delivery systems, appliances, landscape design and irrigation.

The revised specification will ensure that future WaterSense labeled homes still use 20% less water than similar new homes, while reducing the burden and cost to the builders. The modifications to the previous draft specification have built in some additional flexibility; the changes include:
  • Hot water delivery systems - New performance standards no longer require specific types of hot water delivery systems or insulation of hot water pipes.
  • Landscaping - The revised landscaping criteria allow for a wider variety of landscaping options
  • Irrigation systems – Additional requirements for minimum distribution uniformity values and rain shutoff devices increase the efficiency of newly installed irrigation systems.
  • Water budget tool – An improved resource, the water budget tool, better reflects growing seasons and plant water requirements.
  • Inspection guidelines- An optional sampling protocol adds flexibility and streamlines the inspection process for production builders.
These changes reflect further research, stakeholder comments and industry best practices. Once the specification is finalized, homes built and inspected to the specification will bear the WaterSense label.

The updated specification for single-family new homes will be available for public comment through July 7, 2009. EPA anticipates releasing the final Water-Efficient Single-Family New Home Specification in late 2009.

EPA welcomes input on the revisions made to the specification, and encourages all interested parties to view the most recent documents and provide comments. In addition, EPA plans to hold at least one public meeting on the revisions in June 2009. 

Visit to learn more about the Water-Efficient Single- Family New Home Specification.

Source: Waterheadlines

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ask the Wandering Limnologist

Here is a question posed to The Wandering Limnologist by the owner of a newly-created 15 acre lake regarding aquatic plants:

Dear Wandering Limnologist,
I have a newly created lake that is full for the first time this spring and have been reading many sources regarding lake management. Some books say that the key to clear water is to have plants growing that stabilizes the bottom. One article besides dealing specifically with phosphorus gives the impression as many other conflicting articles do – that "all vegetation is bad". How do you keep a stable bottom with "good plants" and limit the bad?

Weedless in SE New York

Dear Weedless:

There are a certain amount of nutrients in a lake acting like fertilizer to make green things grow - green things being algae & phytoplankton and aquatic plants. If you have no aquatic plants then all those nutrients go into phytoplankton and algae growth, causing cloudy water (green, green-brown, or brown). What you have been reading could also be talking about stabilizing lake bottom sediments, shallow water sediments, and lake shorelines. Without plants, wave action will resuspend sediments into the lake causing cloudiness (brown).

Lake ecosystems & lake management are not simple things. If anyone tells you verbally or in something you read that "doing this one thing" fixes all your problems or even solves one problem, be very suspect. For instance, say you had too many plants. Someone tells you that grass carp will fix your problem. It is true that grass carp eat plants. But they preferentially select and eat tastier (to them) plants first and maybe you didn't want to get rid of the tasty plant but another more troublesome plant. Furthermore, no one knows how many grass carp is the correct number. Too few and nothing happens, so the tendency is to throw in too many (there is no correct magic number). So the grass carp eat up all the tasty plants, then all the 2nd tastiest plants and so on until they eat up ALL the plants. Now your lake has no plants. Yea! But then all that phosphorus that was in the plants comes out as fish poop and with no plants you get algae and plankton and your lake is a green algae mess. And with no plants the bass can find and eat up all the small and young fish and you get no more new fish that can grow up to be big fish. And so on.

That is just on example how a "quick and easy fix" can cause more problems than it solves. So do yourself and your lake a favor, support your local lake expert. All kidding aside, don't be led around by simple statements and claims when it comes to your lake. Trust the experience of a certified lake manager when I say it is almost always more expensive to clean up a lake than it is to prevent it from getting messed up in the first place.

Oh, and the short answer is, yes you need plants in your lake to stabilize the shore and provide refuge for baby fish. You really just need to stabilize the shallow, near-shore area and there are plenty of plants that will only grow in shallow water and therefore NOT spread across the whole lake. You don't need or want plants covering the entire bottom of the lake because there aren't many deep water plants that only grow a few inches. They all want to shoot up to the surface.

So, as with the grass carp example, you have to be careful what you plant and introduce into the lake. As pretty as they are, AVOID WATERLILIES AT ALL COSTS. If you want some water lilies, plant them in buckets that you place in the lake so they won't spread everywhere! There are good sources for obtaining aquatic plants and I recommend that we create an aquatic plant planting plan for your new lake.

Visit the Wandering Limnologist at

Submit your questions to The Wandering Limnologist at

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NYS DEC and USDA Need Volunters for Emerald Ash Borer Surveys

While not strictly a lake issue, this is certainly a watershed issue - Michael -

DEC and USDA are calling all volunteers and interested groups to assist with their 2009 Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) trapping surveys. Your help is requested in the following ways:

1. hang EAB traps in ash trees (June) (this can range from 1 to many traps, depending on your interest/availability)

2. check the traps mid-season and send in any target beetles (July)

3. remove the traps at the end of the season and send in any target beetles (August) 

Training will be from 9-2 on Tuesday, May 26th at the DEC in Ray Brook. 

If you are unable to attend the training but are interested in helping, arrangements can be made to get you the information and supplies you need. 

Please email Tom or Jason with your interest:

Tom Colarusso,
Jason Denham,

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know that our "sister" site,, has over 200 links for composting toilets and information about lakes and of interest to lake residents as well as lake managers? There is also a section with links to information on critical lake and watershed issues.
Check it out at

Plus, you can support Lake Stewardship by shopping at the Lake Stewardship Store, where you can buy excellent books about lakes and lake management, as well as virtually any other items of which you may be in need. 

Michael: The Lake Stewardship Guy & The Wandering Limnologist

GE dredging of PCBS begins on upper Hudson River

FORT EDWARD, N.Y. (AP) — Dredges have started removing PCB-laden sediment from the upper Hudson River, more than three decades after the oily chemicals fouled the waterway.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency held a ceremony Friday as the first load of contaminated mud was dredged from the river and unloaded onto a barge 45 miles north of Albany in Fort Edward. The agency called for dredging in 2002.

General Electric Co. discharged wastewater containing PCBs — a probable carcinogen — into the Hudson before the substance was banned in 1977.

Under an agreement with the EPA, GE will clean up 265,000 cubic yards of river bottom this year. Results will be studied before a second, much larger stage would begin. Fairfield, Conn.-based GE has not committed to the second phase.

Source: AP/Adirondack Daily Enterprise; Posted online May 15, 2009, published in April 16 Sat/Sun. edition

Saturday, May 16, 2009

EPA Promotes American Wetlands Month, May 2009: Learn! Explore! Take Action!

Throughout the month of May, EPA and its wetland partners across the country are celebrating the vital importance of wetlands to our nation's ecological, economic, and social health. EPA and a host of other public and private partners are planning a number of events as part of this. year's celebration. In particular, 2009 marks the 20th Anniversary of the National Wetlands Awards program (143 champions of wetlands conservation honored since 1989).

On May 12, the Environmental Law Institute, EPA, and other federal partners will, once again, honor a
diverse group of individuals for their extraordinary commitment to conserving wetlands at an award ceremony on Capitol
Hill (

Other highlights include EPA's Science Notebook focus on wetlands that will highlight the diversity of wetlands and wetland research being undertaken by EPA across the country using assorted multi-media tools such as blogs,
podcasts, interviews, and photo diaries and a National Webcast "Wetlands–Re-connecting Youth with Nature" on May 28th" that will explore the unique role wetlands can play in connecting young people with nature

EPA regional activities planned for the month of May include educational displays, discussions, presentations, special feature articles, wetland walks and celebrations, and an array of other outreach and communication
events. Information on national, regional, and local activities planned for May will be updated and posted throughout the month on
EPA's American Wetlands Month website:

Feel free to contact Kathleen Kutschenreuter (202) 566-1383 or Gregg Serenbetz (202) 566-1253 for more information.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

EPA Budget Aims to Create Jobs, Protect Human Health and the Environment

On May 7, Administrator Lisa P. Jackson released EPA's fiscal year 2010 budget blueprint. This $10.5 billion budget takes significant strides to ensure that our air, land, and water are safe and clean.

"EPA's new budget reflects the President's commitment to growing a clean energy economy while protecting human health and the environment,"
said Administrator Jackson. "These investments demonstrate that it is possible to work towards both a green economy and a green environment
by positioning EPA to lead the way in green jobs, in innovation and technology, and in action on global climate change."

Budget Highlights for Water: Maintaining and Improving Clean Water Infrastructure: To maintain and improve outdated water infrastructure and keep our wastewater and
drinking water clean and safe, EPA has budgeted $3.9 billion. The funding will support efforts around the country to build and renovate an estimated 1,000 clean water and 700 drinking water infrastructure projects, support green infrastructure and create thousands of
technical and construction jobs. Funding will also be available to help communities repair and upgrade the aging network of drinking
water and wastewater pipes that are overwhelmed and breaking down.

Restoring the Great Lakes: The budget includes a $475 million multi-agency Great Lakes Initiative to protect and clean up the largest fresh water lakes in the world through restoration efforts, invasive species control, non-point source pollution mitigation and critical habitats protection.

The budget also includes funding for crucial efforts to protect, maintain, and restore the Chesapeake Bay and Anacostia River, Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay, Lake Champlain and other large waterbodies.

Strengthening Partnerships: Administrator Jackson emphasized that states, localities and tribes are the front line in many environmental programs, as they implement major portions of almost all EPA programs. The budget includes $636,317 for
categorical grants to states and tribes for water programs.

More information on the FY 2010 budget:

More information on EPA's recovery act funding:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Loss of Peat Bogs Around the World Affects Climate Change

EarthTalk May 9, 2009 - Peatlands are wetland ecosystems that accumulate plant material to form layers of peat soil up to 60 feet thick. They can store, on average, 10 times more carbon dioxide (CO2), the leading greenhouse gas, than other ecosystems. As such, the world's peat bogs represent an important "carbon sink"—a place where CO2 is stored below ground and can't escape into the atmosphere and exacerbate global warming. When drained or burned, however, peat decomposes and the stored carbon gets released into the atmosphere.

A 2007 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) study of the role peatlands play in human-induced climate change found that the world's estimated 988 million acres of peatland (which represent about three percent of the world's land and freshwater surface) are capable of storing some two trillion tons of CO2—equivalent to about 100 years worth of fossil fuel emissions.

As such, the widespread conversion of peat bogs into commercial uses around the world is serious cause for alarm. In Finland, Scotland and Ireland, peat is harvested on an industrial scale for use in power stations and for heating, cooking and use in domestic fireplaces.
But the problem is most urgent in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, where economic hardships force people to drain peatlands to create farms and plantations. Marcel Silvius of the Dutch non-profit Wetlands International says that "annual peatland emissions from Southeast Asia far exceed fossil fuel contributions from major polluting countries." He adds that Indonesia, now ranked 21st in the world in greenhouse gas emissions, would move to third place (behind the U.S. and China) if peatland losses were factored in. Wetlands International estimates that CO2 emissions from drained or burnt Indonesian peatlands alone total some two billion tons annually, equal to about 10 percent of the emissions resulting from burning coal, oil and natural gas. Similar amounts of CO2 are likely coming out of Malaysian peatlands as well.

The problem has worsened in recent years as surging global demand for timber, pulp and biofuel speeds up the conversion of otherwise-ignored peatlands to intensively managed tree farms and palm oil plantations. Silvius says that a ton of palm oil—Indonesia's top export and the key ingredient in biodiesel fuel—grown on drained peatlands emits 20 times more CO2 than a ton of gasoline. Yet, he says, protection of peatlands may actually be one of the least costly ways to mitigate global warming, as it would cost less than seven cents ($US) per ton of avoided CO2.

"Just like a global phase out of old, energy guzzling light bulbs or a switch to hybrid cars," says UNEP head Achim Steiner, "protecting and restoring peatlands is perhaps another key 'low hanging fruit' and among the most cost-effective options for climate change mitigation." For its part, UNEP is stressing that countries should be allowed to count protecting peatlands as among their creditable efforts to reduce their carbon footprints as the world braces for global warming.

Source: Earthtalk in

CONTACTS: UNEP,; Wetlands International,

SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; Read past columns at:

Friday, May 01, 2009

Adirondack Research Consortium’s 16th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks

The Adirondack Research Consortium's 16th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks is rapidly approaching, May 20-21, 2009 at the High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid. We have a very strong program this year. In addition to the community segment featuring development issues in the Adirondack Park and the Adirondack Assessment project, we are devoting blocks of time to sustainable forestry, including a forest management bus tour, and an energy future segment with Bob Catell, CEO U.S. of National Grid.

Much more information can be found on the ARC webpage at, or by calling 518-523-1814.

Taxonomy and Ecology of Algae Workshop

June 2, 2009  
Taxonomy and Ecology of Algae
By Dr. Linda Ehrlich and Dr. JoAnn Burkholder 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Hawthorne Inn and Conference Center
Winston-Salem, NC

This workshop will provide information on how to recognize algae in their various surface water habitats, understand why they may become nuisances, and select appropriate means of control in the source water. Fee includes an outstanding workshop notebook for further reference. This workshop is an excellent opportunity for all participants to get hands-on experience with the species that may be troubling their waters. Please check out the attached announcement and registration form or the registration page on our website at

You can pay for the workshop through the donations tab found on the Contact Us page. 

Revised registration fee is $130 registration for the Algae Workshop due to the sponsorship from Peroxygen Solutions.

Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program Earns Top EPA Award

Keene Valley, N.Y. - The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) was one of 26 projects across New York State to receive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's highest honor: the Environmental Quality Award. The award ceremony was held last week in Manhattan in conjunction with Earth Day.

"These exemplary environmental stewards have gone above and beyond for environmental change in local communities across New York," said EPA Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou.

Founded in 1998 and housed by The Nature Conservancy in Keene Valley, APIPP is leading the charge to protect Adirondack natural resources from the damaging effects of invasive species by engaging partners and finding solutions through a coordinated, strategic, and integrated regional approach. Unlike many places, the opportunity exists in the Adirondacks to hold the line against invasive species and prevent them from wreaking havoc on natural resources and economic vitality.

"We are pleased that one of our very important partners has received federal recognition for their exceptional contributions in the fight against invasive species," said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis. "APIPP has been so successful that we have used it as a model to develop other regional partnerships for fighting invasive species. Especially in fiscally constrained times, effective public-private partnerships such as this one are critical to everyone's success."

"We are honored to be among the recipients of the EPA's Environmental Quality Award. This recognition is a testament to APIPP's many partners, community leaders, and volunteers working together to protect the Adirondacks from harmful invasive species," said APIPP Director Hilary Smith.

The threat of invasive species is far-reaching, impacting forest and freshwater resources throughout the world. Invasive species typically come from other parts of the world, and in the absence of natural checks and balances, reproduce and spread at alarming rates, putting native plants and animals at risk. Nationwide costs for controlling them are estimated to be in the billions; Adirondack costs in the millions.

Sharing in the EPA recognition are APIPP's principal partners-the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, NYS Adirondack Park Agency, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and NYS Department of Transportation-as well as more than 30 cooperating organizations. The program's accomplishments include innovative invasive species educational programs, systematic monitoring, controlling hundreds of infestations, and serving as a model for other regional partnerships. In 2008, the program received one of the first contracts for invasive species funding through New York State's Environmental Protection Fund.

To date, hundreds of volunteers have monitored 216 Adirondack lakes, finding 53 infested with one or more harmful plants like Eurasian watermilfoil, curly leaf pondweed, or water chestnut.

Aquatic invaders are easily, and often inadvertently, spread from lake to lake when plant fragments "hitchhike" on boat bottoms, propellers, paddles, clothing or waders. Everyone who enjoys water sports can help prevent the spread by checking and cleaning equipment between uses. For those interested in doing more, APIPP offers free training sessions to help citizens learn how to identify plants and monitor water bodies. This year's sessions are as follows: June 16 in Bolton Landing, June 18 in Tupper Lake; and June 23 in Northville. Contact Tyler Smith, (518) 576 - 2082 x 119, or, for more information.

Land-based invaders-Japanese knotweed, garlic mustard, and others-have also taken root on private and public lands in the Adirondacks. Last field season alone, APIPP oversaw the removal of some seven tons of invasive plants at 33 Forest Preserve Campgrounds and 125 sites along 275 miles of state highways. There are volunteer opportunities for citizens to get involved in these efforts as well. Contact Steven Flint, (518) 576 - 2082 x 120, or for details.

"We've been at this for more than a decade and still the dedication of our partners and volunteers is stronger than the most persistent and harmful invasive species," Ms. Smith said. "We must be vigilant about detecting new infestations and responding to them quickly. With stronger-than-ever state programming, we are forging ahead with a more regional emphasis on aquatic invasives and forest pests like emerald ash borer."

EPA selects Environmental Quality Award winners from non-profit environmental and community groups, individual citizens, educators, business organizations and members of the news media, as well as from federal, state, local or tribal governments and agencies. The honor is given to those individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to improving the environment and public health in EPA Region 2, which covers New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and seven federally-recognized Indian Nations. More information is available online at

Among APIPP's past honors are NYSDEC's Environmental Excellence Award in 2007 and two from the Federal Highway Administration: Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative in 2004 and Environmental Excellence in 2001. Find out more about APIPP online at <> .

Contact: Hilary Smith, 518-524-8206, or