An Open Letter to Lake Residents

Dear Neighbor,

I too have property on the lake.  We have a common interest in preserving the health and beauty of our wonderful lake.

Are you planning any construction or landscaping on your property?  You may not be aware of the possible adverse impact that soil runoff into the lake can cause, and of beneficial choices available to you as you plan your finished lakeshore.

Lake Fairlee is becoming increasingly nutrient rich, which is accelerating its eutrophication.  [EXPLANATION] While this is a natural process in all lakes, ours is beginning to show signs of algal blooms and other symptoms of its over-rich diet.  Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous enter the lake as runoff from lawn fertilizer and farm manure far up in the watershed.  Also every time the earth is disturbed (even for road maintenance) there is soil runoff that finds its way into the lake, and this soil contains nitrogen fixed by plants and in decomposing plant matter.

We hope that those who build around the lake are aware of this process and take steps to minimize the impact of their activity.  The silt fence that contractors are supposed to put downhill from their work probably helps a little.  Please encourage your builder to consider the health of the lake as he proceeds, and be careful as he digs and grades.  Protecting the health of the lake is the right thing to do, AND it protects our property values.

One of the best and easiest things a lakeshore property owner can do is to create and maintain a shoreline buffer.  Leaving an area of natural growth by the lake will both secure the shore against premature erosion and act as a filter for runoff from farther up the hill. [MORE INFORMATION]

The worst thing for a lakeshore – from the perspective of lake health – is a beautiful green lawn stretching down to the lake.  Usually this means fertilizer to promote growth and weed killer to keep down crabgrass etc.  Each of these is harmful to the lake.  And both can be ameliorated by planting a un-manicured buffer along the shore.  Simply electing not to mow down to the shore will allow useful growth to take over.

I hope you find this information helpful.  And that you take my letter in the neighborly spirit in which I intend.  Those of us who are lucky enough to own property on the lake have a special responsibility that comes with our delightful home sites.  The future health of the lake depends on us.