May 1st – Latest News

Herbicide Permit

It has been eight weeks since this blog has posted a status update on our herbicide permit application.  We have been waiting, and waiting, for some good news to pass along.  What we do know is that the period for comments has passed, three comments were received from the public, of which two were favorable.  The Departments of Health and of Fish and Wildlife have given their input.  The Draft permit has been completed, and has been sent to the Lakes and Ponds Section Chief for comment.

Beyond this we can only surmise.  We have been told informally that the permit will be “favorable” and that it will be issued “in time.”  All we know for sure is that our permit is wending its way through the bureaucracy.  We will announce any further developments here as soon as we have them.

Greeter Program

This year the we will be increasing the number of hours that we have a greeter present at the boat ramp to almost twice what we were able to do last year.  With the hoped for success of the herbicide treatment, prevention will become even more important.  We urge the State to consider legislation requiring boaters to wash their boats and equipment before entering any lake.


Your Association has begun this year’s fundraising to pay for the milfoil program.  We will have to raise considerably more this year than ever before to pay for the chemical treatment.  The voters in the three towns adjacent to the lake voted to continue each town’s support.  We sent a letter to our membership asking each member to consider doubling her previous gift.  Early returns are promising.


Our annual meeting and barbecue will be on Saturday July 10th at Horizons Day Camp.

2009 Finances

This year the Lake Fairlee Association again was faced with declining revenues.  We received support from only about 70 donors this year, compared with about 100 last.  One possible reason for this is the withdrawal of support by contributors who think that we should be using chemicals to treat the milfoil, following  neighboring Lake Morey’s recent success.  Support from the three towns stayed constant.  Grateful thanks to the citizens of Fairlee, Thetford, and West Fairlee.

This year’s income:  (numbers are rounded off)

          dues and donations    $41,500      43.5%
                 state of VT    $42,000      44%
                 three towns    $12,000      12.5%
                total income    $95,500

Our divers this year agreed to work without a raise, which seemed fair in the present economy, and they worked a shorter season.  Insurance went up a little, as did gasoline costs.   Other expenses stayed much the same as previous years.

                    salaries    $62,500      72%
                    benefits     $8,200       9%
       equipment and repairs     $1,000       1%
         supplies (air, gas)     $3,900       4%
   insurance & workers comp.     $5,400       6%
                 lake survey     $4,000       5%
misc (including bookkeeping)     $1,700       2%
              total expenses    $86,700

We were left with a surplus of $9,000, which we will carry forward to next year.  $7,000 of this was received after the end of the season from the towns of Fairlee and Thetford, who make their contributions after they collect their property taxes in October.

Further explanation of just what is included in each category can be found in the post immediately following this one.

Chemicals in Lake Fairlee — A Hard Decision

[ the following is the text of an announcement of our upcoming meeting ]

Meeting – 7:00 pm, Monday August 31st – at Ohana Camp

(formerly Lake Fairlee Camp on Quinibeck Road)

The Lake Fairlee Association has decided that our milfoil control program is no longer adequate to its task, and that the future health of Lake Fairlee requires a new approach. After review of the alternatives available, and after discussion with the Vermont DEC, the Lake Fairlee Association board has decided to begin the process leading to the use of an herbicide on the milfoil next summer.

Why now?

  • The milfoil has spread so much, in spite of our strenuous mechanical control program, that we are no longer able to keep it under control.
  • Since our informational meeting last month public opinion around the lake has been strongly in favor of using chemicals.
  • Some of our most generous donors, upon whom our program largely depends, have decreased or completely withheld support unless and until we change course.
  • Others who have never supported our milfoil efforts have promised to contribute in the future if we add the use of herbicides to our overall program.
  • Many who argue against the use of chemicals have never contributed to our dive program.

The safety of the process, and of the particular chemical used, continues to be of paramount importance.  The information we have received from the State scientists and others indicate that, if used properly, this herbicide is safe and effective.  We invite a thorough and thoughtful discussion of the risks, known and unknown, and an analysis weighing these risks with the costs of not proceeding and the benefits of doing so.

We believe that the engagement and support of the community is essential.  Towards that end we are holding another meeting to help residents and lake users fully understand our decision to employ this measure at this time.  We plan to have additional opportunities for discussion as the process unfolds.  Representatives from the company we select to do the treatment will be invited, as will scientists from the State DEC.

Please attend this meeting and join us in supporting Lake Fairlee.

Annual Meeting and Barbecue – 2008

On Saturday, July 12th, more than 100 members of the Lake Fairlee Association gathered at Horizons Day Camp on a sunny and warm late afternoon.  We started socially and informally, with wine and gossip on the porch.

Dinner followed, catered by Bare Bones Catering (thank you, Crystal!) and then a pleasantly succinct business meeting.  President Suzy Kerr chaired the meeting, and in short order we elected new Trustees AJ Kemon and Donna Walter. Libby Chapin reported on the status of the Greeter Program, and Skip Brown spoke about the milfoil.  He first acknowledged Tofer Sharp for his work leading the milfoil effort in past years, then introduced three of the divers who were present.  Finally Treasurer Ridge Satterthwaite reported on the Association’s finances and warned us of the need for additional donations if we are to keep the divers working through September.

Our first guest speaker was our own Dale Gephart,  a lake resident and amateur naturalist. (He is also a physician and teacher)  Dale shared his unique view of the lake as a complex living system, and told us about interesting plant and animal species he has observed while swimming near his shoreline armed only with a mask.  He emphasized the importance of sustaining the diversity of species in our lake, and the part that each of us can play as responsible stewards.

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was a presentation by Ben Kilham, a resident of nearby Lyme, and nationally recognized expert on Black Bears.  Ben spoke at length about  his experience raising black bears from cubs and releasing and following them in the wild.  He is a talented photographer as well as a naturalist (and a gunsmith, it happens) and he illustrated his talk with remarkable “slides” of his favorite cubs in their natural environment.  He said that he gets alongwith bears better than with people; we are glad that he came to speak to us anyway.

Special thanks to AJ Kemon for organizing the whole evening, and Donna Walter for managing the sign in table and accounting for the dues and dinner fees.  Thanks also to the Aloha Foundation for letting us use the facility.

Dale Gephart and Skip Brown prepared an information sheet which was distributed at the meeting.  It contains some facts about the health of Lake Fairlee and about our program of milfoil eradication.  You can read it HERE.

Year End Finances

The milfoil program costs have been paid, and we have compiled what will probably remain the final budget figures for 2007. We finished the year with (a little) money in the bank, and without having to go into debt. We had to let our divers go a week or two earlier than we would have liked, due to budget constraints. Nonetheless we had a productive season fighting the good fight to keep the milfoil at bay.

In a spirit of transparency we want to let you know where the money comes from and where it goes.

  • Income
    • $44,864 Income from the State of Vermont
    • $10,000 Income from municipalities
    • $53,143 Income from memberships, donations, and events
  • $108,007
  • Expenses
    • $89,872 Divers’ salaries and taxes
    • $7,684 Dive program costs: air, gas, repairs, supplies, etc.
    • $4,579 Insurance (liability and workers’ compensation)
    • $3,529 Other: office supplies, postage, PO Box rental, etc.
  • $105,664

Our operating surplus for 2007 was $2343.

What your contributions and tax dollars bought:

  • 2866 Divers’ “Catch Bags” full of hand picked milfoil (just more than 1 cu. ft. each)
  • 2100 cu. ft. of suction harvested milfoil (more densely packed)
  • 150+ logged hours of volunteers hand pulling milfoil
  • 193 sheets (6’x100′) of bottom barrier in place — about 2.0 acres with overlap

On behalf of all of us who share an interest in preserving the natural beauty and economic vitality of Lake Fairlee, we thank you for your support.

Annual Meeting of the Lake Fairlee Association

View from the LodgeOn Saturday, July 14th, the Lake Fairlee Association held its annual dinner and meeting. The location was a new one for us this year, porch2 the lodge of the former Lake Fairlee Camp, with a commanding view across the south end of the lake. A complete reconstruction of the lodge is in its final stages, and we are grateful to the Aloha Foundation for generously allowing us to meet there.

porch1Attendance was up this year, to over 110 attendees. dinner Early arrivals engaged in spirited conversation over cocktails on the porch.

Dinner was barbecued chicken with all the fixings, and this year there was more than enough food!

After dinner our new president elect, Susie Kerr, moved the agenda briskly along. We heard a report from dinnerGreg McGrath of Lake Morey about their early success treating portions of their lake with the herbicide Renovate. Skip Brown introduced some of our dive crew and explained something about their work to eradicate milfoil. Treasurer Ridge Slatterthwaite reported on the Association’s finances, and explained how the State of Vermont’s grant this year will be reduced by over a third from last year’s amount. Suzy also introduced several new arrivals to the lake who were in attendance. After some general questions and discussion the meeting was adjourned.