Friends of Northern Lake Champlain (FNLC) is a non-profit organization that acts to clean the waters of northern Lake Champlain and its watershed by working collaboratively with citizens, businesses, farmers and government in order to reduce land-use pollution. Our focus is on catalyzing the actions and accountability needed to reduce land-use pollution and securing the essential local, state, and federal funding necessary for successful implementation.
We work in the entire northern arm of Lake Champlain from the sandbar, up to the Missisquoi bay, and through the islands down to South Hero. The group began as the Friends of Missisquoi Bay where they were able to develop very strong alliances with the Farmers Watershed Alliance (FWA), and UVM Extension. These groups were united in their effort to reduce blue-green algae blooms by implementing on the ground projects to reduce nutrient run off into the Missisquoi Bay. When the nutrient loading became evident in other parts of the lake, the name was changed the name to Friends of Northern Lake Champlain (FNLC) in 2009. In addition, FNLC brought on members from the islands and expanded the board.
The early work centered on developing a membership and volunteers and creating awareness about the problem to local and federal agencies that were responsible for programs to reduce nutrient run off. In 2006, the organization was able to hire an Executive Director, Paul Madden served in this position for 6 years. Last year he retired and Denise Smith joined the organization in a full-time capacity.
FNLC has been very effective in establishing communications between farmers, lake shore residents, and businesses through annual educational and social events. FNLC has also been helpful in implementing and promoting many agronomic practices in the Missisquoi River Basin, such as cover crops. What began as a few hundred acres in 2007 quickly became several thousand over the next few years when FNCL partnered with the Franklin Watershed Association and UVM Extension.
FNLC has worked UVM Extension, Agrilab Technologies, The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, USDA, NRCS, FWA, and others to promote better agronomic practices such as crop rotation, counter slope planting and no till planting of corn and soy. They host biannual farmers meetings where open forums have been given on several topics, including tile drainage. A project FNLC will be moving forward with this summer is using an interseeder that is designed to establish a cover crop in late June in standing row crops.
Storm water mapping has been another area of focus that FNLC has been involved in with Stone Environmental Engineering. Together, they mapped storm water in eight communities in Franklin County with plans to develop three more this year. In 2013 and 2014 this mapping led to the implementation of projects in The Village of Enosburg Falls, The Town of Enosburg, Swanton Village, Sheldon Springs, Highgate, and Georgia.
FNLC is dedicated to creating more educational opportunities to reach students, citizens, farmers, and municipalities on the importance of sustainable, water friendly land use practices. Each year they produce an Action Plan that is shared with local and state representatives. They view themselves as a facilitator for productive dialog about solutions to the pollution problem in Lake Champlain between divergent interest groups. This role is facilitated by the annual dinner hosted by the Tyler Place for their members and contributing members. Legislators and corporate sponsors are brought in to enable better networking between all the groups who are working on the lake.
In the summer FNLC convenes a public annual meeting that features two speakers on a current topic.