Opportunities for Action: An Evolving Plan for the Future of the Lake Champlain Basin

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Lake Champlain opportunities for action management plan

Welcome to the 2010 update of Opportunities for Action – an online, dynamic management plan! Here you will be able to easily explore the goals and actions of OFA and track progress toward those goals. [Sommaire en Français]

sailboat at sunset

Opportunities for Action establishes a plan for coordinated action by Federal, State, and Provincial jurisdictions within the Basin, and public stakeholders, to restore and protect water quality and the diverse natural and cultural resources of the Lake Champlain Basin. Successful implementation of the plan will be achieved by developing many joint partnerships among natural resource agencies, citizens, and other Lake and watershed stakeholders, to achieve the actions described herein.

The Lake Champlain Basin Program has worked to involve the public and to respond to current management, research, and monitoring needs in developing and implementing OFA since 1991. In the current revision, partners have committed to specific management tasks based on funding available in 2010 and anticipated in subsequent years; however, additional needed tasks have been identified at the end of each chapter to be addressed as funding opportunities become available. The new online format will encourage accountability in the accomplishment of these tasks and allow for the integration of an adaptive management process, a structured method for updating the plan as new information becomes available. This approach will allow OFA to remain current in a continual evolving process to protect and restore the Lake Champlain ecosystem.

For more information about using this online management plan, please see “How to Use This Resource.”

The OFA website was officially launched in late December 2010. We are working hard to update the status of the tasks that listed within each of the OFA chapters, as well as success stories. Thanks for your patience!
~LCBP Staff.

Landowners in Lake Champlain Watershed Protect Special Bird Habitat

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is working in partnership with landowners in Clinton and Essex counties in the Lake Champlain Watershed to protect habitat for shrub and grass land birds. Funding for the project is coming from President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative through the USDA NRCS Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program.

“Lake Champlain was chosen as a national signature project for America’s Great Outdoors Initiative because of its comprehensive pollution, control and restoration plan for protecting the water quality, wetlands, wildlife, recreational and cultural resources in the watershed. Important grassland and shrubland habitat management was a part of that plan, and we are pleased to use the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program to help landowners manage those resources, along with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and New York Audubon,” said Marilyn Stephenson, Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations with USDA NRCS in New York.

Eighteen landowners in Clinton and Essex counties signed up to take advantage of incentive payments to create and protect habitat for grass and shrubland bird species such as the Golden-winged Warbler, American Woodcock, Blue-winged Warbler, Canada Warbler, Black-billed Cuckoo, Whip-poor-will, Ruffed Grouse, Brown Thrasher, Willow Flycatcher, Eastern Towhee, Northern Harrier, Upland Sandpiper, Horned Lark, Sedge Wren, Eastern Bluebird, Clay-colored Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Henslow’s Sparrow, Dickcissel, Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark.

Grassland birds are declining significantly in the Northeast due to the loss of suitable habitat. In some cases, haying or pasturing of animals can be a compatible farm use when mowing or grazing is done after July 15th. Mowing after this date allows birds time to nest and raise their young, and keeps grass and shrublands open for migrant songbirds.

“The Lake Champlain Watershed has several important bird habitat areas located in northeastern Clinton County, areas along Lake Champlain in central Essex County, and in Fort Edward in Washington County. We rely on private landowners to work with us to help protect habitat in these and other areas throughout the basin,” said Joe Wetzstein, USDA NRCS Acting District Conservationist for Clinton and Essex counties.

The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to help participants manage wildlife habitat on private agricultural land, non-industrial private forest land, and Tribal land. WHIP in New York has two focus areas: enhancing early successional wildlife habitat with shrubland and establishing and enhancing grassland habitat for declining bird species, pollinators, and other grassland wildlife species. Examples of eligible practices include establishing plants which benefit wildlife, mowing to keep grass lands open for ground nesting songbirds, and early successional clearings to enhance shrubland habitat for migratory songbirds.

With offices in nearly every county in the United States, NRCS works with landowners and communities to improve our soil, water, air, plants, wildlife, and energy use. If you are interested in how you can protect habitat for grass and shrubland birds on your property, please contact your county NRCS office.


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Site Last Updated: March 18, 2015

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