Vermont Lake Wise Practices – 2018 Field Season Wrap Up: Benefits for Property and Lake in the New Year!

The Lake Wise Program provides technical assistance to all types of shoreland owners for managing stormwater and protecting water quality, property, and wildlife habitat. Shorelands are very important areas for protecting clean water and wildlife habitat yet have been developed into the highest residential density in Vermont. The goal of the Lake Wise Program is to restore natural shorelands and their multiple benefits to ensure healthy lakes and property protection.

In 2018, more than 100 Lake Wise Assessments were completed on 25 lakes statewide and more than 30 Best Management Practices were installed to improve shoreland conditions. Highlighted below are a few of the shoreland restoration projects completed in 2018. The Lake Wise Program greatly thanks all partners involved in this work.

Lake Raponda, Wilmington

Town Beach Erosion Control

The Lake Raponda community collaborated for a second year with the Lake Wise Program to complete the next phase of an erosion control project designed to protect the Town Beach and Lake.

An upland vegetative swale added to the sloped lawn area of the Town Beach area intercepts, slows, and treats stormwater before it enters the lake. The swale also prevents erosive upland runoff from uprooting the newly planted native species along the shoreline, which were added in 2017 to stabilize the shore and protect the beach sand from washing into the lake.

Side by side images show the shoreline at Raponda Town Beach before and after the installation of a vegetated swale

An upland vegetated swale, installed by a VYCC crew at the Raponda Town Beach, intercepts erosive road runoff and treats it before it enters the lake.

Lake Raponda Road Stabilization

The Lake Wise Program oversaw a 215-foot stretch of shoreland stabilization work while partnering with the Town of Wilmington, the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, and GEI Consultants Inc. from Michigan. Encapsulated soil lifts were installed along Lake Raponda Road to re-establish a gently sloped shore, protecting both the road and water quality.

The road had been badly eroding into the lake and a vertical bank had formed with visible undercuts present. The best bioengineering fix for this problem required an Encroachment Permit from the Lakes and Ponds Permitting Program as building two tiers of soil lifts would extend below the mean water level. The lifts use biodegradable products and native plants to stabilize and restore the benefits of a naturally sloping shore. Native plants grip the bank and help protect against erosion from wind, wave and ice push as well as filter road runoff to keep the lake clean.

Side by side images show Lake Raponda Road before, during, and after the installation of encapsulated soil lifts.

Encapsulated soil lifts reestablish a gently sloped shore, allowing native plants to root and stabilize the bank and road edge, while filtering and treating runoff before it enters the lake.

Lake Elmore, Elmore and Fairfield Pond, Fairfield

In collaboration with the Fairfield Lake Association and employing the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, the Lake Wise Program worked with shoreland owners to implement several BMPs for lake protection. About 40 miles southeast of Fairfield Pond, at Lake Elmore, similar events occurred. Projects at both lakes were identified through Lake Wise Assessments.

More than 130 native shrubs and herbaceous plants were planted on the shores of Lake Elmore and Fairfield Pond. These native plants will help stabilize the bank, filter stormwater, and jumpstart the succession to a natural shore as homeowners minimize their lawn and mow less. Lawns offer no benefit to water quality, property protection, or wildlife, and along shorelands lawns actually degrade water quality and shallow water habitat.

Additionally, eight structural BMPs were installed including open-top culverts, infiltration trenches, and stone check dams. These BMPs were designed to fix erosion problems at each individual property. For example, stone check-dams were installed to stabilize a road drainage ditch that was eroding into Lake Elmore, while a gravel topcoat and open-top culverts were added to a long, steep, dirt driveway on Fairfield Pond to prevent erosion.

Side by side images show the shore of Lake Elmore before and after native vegetation is planted

Native vegetation planted along this shoreland stretch of Lake Elmore protects the property from storm damages, stabilizes the bank, filters stormwater, and enhances wildlife habitat for song birds, pollinator species, fish, and other wildlife.

Dolloff Pond, Sutton

The Northwoods Stewardship Center restored a half acre of shoreland at Dolloff Pond in Sutton. Before the restoration work took place, two side by side vehicle access areas led straight from the road down to the pond. The vehicles had badly eroded both accesses and sediment and phosphorus were flowing untreated into the pond.

Controlling the erosion required closing one of the access points, and installing several BMPs including a berm, and natural plantings to restore the shore and fix the erosion of the remaining open access area.

A set of images showing the shore of Dolloff pond before and after several BMPs were installed.

Restoring this access area called for several BMPs, starting with an upland berm or ‘speedbump’ to divert stormwater away from new plantings. Delineating a single pathway to the water will help minimize compaction, trampling, and erosion of a wider area.

Waterbury Reservoir, Waterbury

Heavy foot traffic at a popular backcountry camping site had trampled and eroded a steep bank along the Waterbury Reservoir. The irregular water fluctuations at the Reservoir also contribute to shoreland erosion, especially as native plants and their system of roots often can’t survive through the droughts and floods caused by the changes in water levels. Considering these circumstances and wanting to keep the backcountry sites as natural as possible, the decision was made to use a Live Crib Wall stabilization design. Live Crib Walls rely on a combination of structural and vegetative support for stabilizing eroding slopes and seemed best suited for the Reservoir shoreland conditions.

The Lake Wise Program partnered with the Department of Forest and Parks to employee a Vermont Youth Conservation Corps Crew to install the Live Crib Wall. All materials had to be boated across to the site as were the crew!
This project will be watched closely to learn how well it holds up against Reservoir conditions.

Two photographs side by side which show an area of shoreline along Waterbury Reservoir State Park before and after the installation of a Live Crib Wall

A Live Crib Wall was built to stabilize this eroding shore along Waterbury Reservoir State Park. Live Crib Walls are built from natural materials, like these untreated hemlock timbers and native plants.

Maidstone Lake, Maidstone

And, just when the field season had wrapped up… it hadn’t! Late in the fall, the Essex County Natural Resources Conservation District worked with the Northwoods Stewardship Crew to install five open-top culverts and a set of infiltration stairs on three Maidstone Lake properties. And, in partnership with Nectar Landscape Design a bioengineering project was installed, using fiber coir rolls, to stabilize a shore that had been damaged in 2016 from winter ice push.

The crew re-sloped the bank, installed a rock toe, and planted many shrubs and herbaceous plugs which will grow and create a natural vegetated buffer zone, helping to prevent ice push in the future.

Grass lawns do little to protect a shore from ice, wave or wind damages. The shallow roots don’t grip and hold a bank and the grass doesn’t filter runoff or provide any wildlife benefits, like shade for the aquatic community. Native plant roots grow thick and deep to stabilize a bank and native plants are essential for healthy shoreland and lake ecosystems. Stabilizing shores with native plants is a win-win for property protection and water quality, as well as being the most affordable option for bank maintenance.

Side by side images of the shore of Maidstone Lake showing damage caused by ice push and the same area with being restored with native vegetation planted

Ice push is a natural phenomenon for lakes a way for a lake to create its own retaining wall for managing stormwater. However, once shores are cleared of their natural vegetation and planted with lawns, banks are vulnerable to sever ice push damage and erosion. Revegetating the shore with bioengineering methods builds back resiliency along the shore and protects both property and water quality, which is what was done at this Maidstone Lake site.

To learn more about the Lake Wise Program, visit the Vermont Lakes and Ponds Program website at:
Or, contact Amy Picotte at: