A Healthy Lake Environment

The Lake Fairlee Association has other interests besides milfoil. We are focused generally with preserving the natural beauty of Lake Fairlee. One issue that concerns us is the amount and quality of development around the lake. Another is the condition of the earthen dam that controls the level of the lake. If this dam were to fail, the water level in the lake would drop significantly. (by maybe 10 feet?) The shoreline would recede. Property lines (and tax assessments) would be disputed. It is unclear what kind of dam could be built to replace it under current regulations, and who would do it, as the dam is on private property.

While the problem of the dam contains too many unknowns, the issues of development are more easily understood. There is a natural tension between owners who want to build or subdivide and current users who want to restrict new entry. We will leave these decisions to the planning and zoning commissions of the towns, and will stand ready to offer our wise counsel if asked. However, as more property around the lake is developed, we are concerned that owners and builders be aware of the choices they have for landscape design, and the consequences of these decisions for the health of the lake, as well as for its aesthetics.

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation has made available two pamphlets, which can be downloaded as pdf files. (Adobe Acrobat required)

Both of these pamphlets contain copious illustrations and diagrams, and useful suggestions for lakeshore property owners. There are other pamphlets of interest in this series. Lake Protection Series They explain how landscaping choices affect the health of the lake.

Washington State University has a “lakescaping” resource which has some helpful hints. LINK

There is one area in which the behavior of nearby property owners and our rampant milfoil growth intersect. When lakeshore owners fertilize their lawns or trees, any fertilizer that runs off into the lake also fertilizes the milfoil. This is true for the entire watershed as well. Even farms a few miles up Middlebrook can feed excessive plant nutrients into Lake Fairlee. If you absolutely must fertilize, please consider using phosphorous free fertilizers. more information