The Windham Conservation District received an Aquatic Invasive Species Grant from the Department of Environmental Conservation to support the management of Vermont Public Access Greeters at Windham County lakes. Greeters work at public access boat launches performing inspections of water craft before they launch to help keep aquatic invasive species from being introduced. Greeters also educate boaters and the public about invasive species and best practices to prevent their spread.
With additional funding from Great River Hydro, the Town of Wilmington and the Lake Raponda Association, the Windham Greeter Program is managing greeters at Harriman Reservoir, Somerset Reservoir and Lake Raponda from Memorial Day until Labor Day. The summer of 2020 has seen a sharp uptick in boat traffic on these waterbodies as residents and tourists alike seek out socially distant recreational opportunities. This increase in traffic bring with it the increased risk of the introduction of invasive species. “Public access greeters are more important than ever in this unprecedented time and we are fortunate to have the support of state and local government as well as Great River Hydro to make this possible,” said Windham Conservation District Manager Cory Ross. Preventing the introduction of aquatic invasives is far easier than removing them once established.
Public access greeters also collect valuable data on boat traffic and the potential spread of invasive species while conducting inspections. This data tracks where boats were most recently launched, allowing the Department of Environmental Conservation to better understand potential routes for spread. This information makes it possible to identify which waterbodies are at greatest risk and allocate resources strategically.
The Lake Raponda Public Access greeter program is also heavily supported by the dedicated volunteers of the Lake Raponda Association. Volunteer greeters fill in the schedule when funding cannot support paid greeters. These volunteers have made it possible for Lake Raponda to be staffed all summer long, even on weekdays. The commitment of the Lake Raponda Community speaks volumes about the importance they place on protecting their watershed. Protecting Windham County’s lakes and reservoirs requires collaboration between state and local government, lake associations, Vermont’s residents and tourists to the Green Mountain State. Together, we can keep our waters healthy for years to come.