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Glossary
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | U | V | W | Z |


A

Acquisition - in the context of wetlands, to obtain through direct purchase, easement, donation, or other means, in order to protect, enhance, or restore habitat functions and values.

Acute toxicity - the ability of a substance to cause poisonous effects resulting in severe biological harm or death soon after a single exposure or dose; Any severe poisonous effect resulting from a single short-term exposure to a toxic substance.

Algae - small aquatic plants which occur as single cells, colonies, or strands. Algae use carbon dioxide and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus to make their own food through photosynthesis. Algae form the base of the aquatic food chain.

Algae bloom or algal bloom - a situation often caused by excess nutrients whereby algae grow and reproduce rapidly, often forming dense mats on the surface of the water. Algae blooms can cause unpleasant conditions for swimmers or boaters.

Alluvial - made up of sedimentary material deposited by flowing water, such as a riverbed or delta.

Aquatic - growing in, living in, or dependent upon water.

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B

Bathymetry - measurement of the depth of large bodies of water.

Basin - the surrounding land that drains into a water body. For Lake Champlain, the land that drains through the many rivers and their tributaries into the Lake itself.

Benthic community or Benthic organisms (benthos) - collectively, all organisms living in or on the bottom of a body of water.

Benzene - a clear, aromatic, flammable, poisonous liquid, formed during the processing of coal. It is used to dissolve fats and to make lacquers, varnishes, dyes, and other synthetic materials. Benzene is also released into the air through automobile emissions.

Biodiversity - the variety of plants and animals, their genetic variability, and their interrelationships and ecological processes, and the communities and landscapes in which they exist.

Biota - the animal or plant life of a region.

Buffer zones (strips) - protective land borders that reduce runoff and nonpoint source pollution loading to critical habitats or water bodies; areas created or sustained to lessen the negative effects of land development on animals and plants and their habitats.

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C

Cadmium (Cd) - a heavy metal that accumulates in the environment.

Chromium (Cr) - a lustrous, hard, steel gray metallic element used in steel alloys and stainless steel.

Chronic toxicity - the capacity of a substance to cause long-term poisonous health effects in humans, animals, fish, and other organisms. (see Acute toxicity.)

Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) - discharge of a mixture of storm water and domestic waste when the flow capacity of a sewer system is exceeded during rainstorms.

Conifer forest - a forest type comprised primarily of evergreen trees such as pines, spruces, hemlocks and firs.

Criteria - a standard, rule, or test by which something can be judged; a measure of value.

Cultural eutrophication - eutrophication that is caused by additions of extra nutrients from human activities (see Eutrophication.)

Cultural heritage - historical and archeological past.

Cultural heritage resources - the physical record and memory of the past.

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D

Database - a collection of data arranged for ease and speed of retrieval.

Deciduous forest - a forest type comprised primarily of trees which seasonally lose their leaves such as oaks, maples, beeches, and birches.

Demographic - data about human populations such as size, growth, density, and distribution.

Dioxin - any of a family of compounds known chemically as dibenzo-p-dioxins. Dioxins are sometimes generated by industrial processes, and can contaminate water and soil. Tests on laboratory animals indicate that it is one of the most toxic man-made chemicals known.

Drainage basin - land area from which water flows into a river or lake, either from streams, groundwater, or surface runoff. (see Watershed.)

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E

Ecological communities - a group of interacting plants and animals living in a defined area.

Ecosystem - a group of plants and animals occurring together, and the physical environment with which they interact.

Effluent - wastewater, treated or untreated, that flows out of a treatment plant, sewer, or industrial outfall. Generally refers to wastes discharged into surface waters.

Endangered species - a species in immediate danger of becoming extinct.

Erosion - the loosening and subsequent transport of soil away from its native site. Erosion often results from wind, running water, ice, or the removal of vegetation.

Estuary - region of interaction between rivers and near-shore ocean waters, where tidal action and river flow mix fresh and salt water. Such areas include bays, mouths of rivers, salt marshes, and lagoons. These brackish water ecosystems shelter and feed marine life, birds, and wildlife. (see Wetlands)

Eutrophic - from Greek for "well-nourished," it describes a lake with low water clarity and excessive plant growth due to high concentrations of nutrients.

Eutrophication - the slow, natural process of aging of a lake, estuary, or bay. Dissolved nutrients enter the water body, often leading to excess plant growth and decreased water quality. As the plants die, they are decomposed by microorganisms which use up dissolved oxygen vital to other aquatic species such as fish. Over very long periods of time, the decaying plant matter builds up and causes the lake to fill in and form a bog or marsh. Cultural eutrophication speeds up this natural process.

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F

Fauna - animals.

Fecal coliform bacteria - bacteria found in the intestinal tracts of mammals. Their presence in water or sludge is an indicator of pollution and possible contamination by pathogens.

Fertilizer - natural and synthetic materials spread on or worked into soil to increase plant growth and productivity.

Fishery - the act, process, occupation, or season for taking fish.

Flora - plants and vegetation.

Food web - the pattern of food consumption in a natural ecosystem. A food web is composed of many interconnecting food chains.

Furan - a colorless liquid prepared from wood tar and used a solvent for resins and plastics, or as a tanning agent.

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G

Giardia - a protozoan that causes stomach and intestinal illness.

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H

Habitat - the place where a particular type of plant or animal lives. An organism's habitat must provide all of the basic requirements for life and should be free of harmful contaminants.

Habitat fragmentation - breaking up a specific habitat into smaller unconnected areas. A habitat area that is too small may not provide enough space to maintain a breeding population of the species.

Hazardous waste - any solid, liquid, or gaseous substance that is a by-product of society and classified under state or federal law as potentially harmful to human health or the environment. Hazardous wastes are subject to special handling, shipping, storage, and disposal requirements and possess at least one of the following four characteristics: ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity.

Health risks - anything that may reduce human health. These may be ranked according to high, moderate, and low risk.

Household hazardous waste - substances found in the home which contain hazardous materials (which should be disposed of properly to prevent pollution to the air, groundwater, and surface water.)

Hydrologic cycle - the continual cycling of water between the land, the sea, other water bodies and the atmosphere through evaporation, condensation, absorption into the soil, and stream runoff.

Hydrologic unit area - a major drainage basin or aquifer recharge area.

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I

In-place contaminants - toxic substances that have accumulated in lake bottom sediments. They can stay in the sediments for long periods if undisturbed, or they can be stirred up and enter the water column or food web.

Invertebrate - small organisms like worms and clams that do not have a backbone.

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L

Lacustrine - of or relating to lakes.

Landforms - configurations of the land surface taking distinctive forms and produced by natural processes, such as hills, valleys, and plateaus.

Landscape - the traits, patterns and structure of a specific geographic area, including its biological composition, its physical environment, and its anthropogenic or social patterns. An area where interacting ecosystems are grouped and repeated in similar form.

Load (also loading) - the amount of a material entering a system from all sources over a given time interval.

Local watershed - in this document, any watershed within a sub-basin of Lake Champlain.

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M

Macroinvertebrates - aquatic insects, worms, clams, snails, and other animals without backbones that can be seen without the aid of a microscope and that may be associated with or live on sediments.

Manage - to control the movement or behavior of; to manipulate.

Management (natural resources management) - to make a conscious, deliberate decision on a course of action to conserve, protect, restore, enhance, or control natural resources, or to take no action.

Mercury (Hg) - heavy metal that can accumulate in the environment and is highly toxic if breathed or swallowed.

Mesotrophic - a moderately nutrient-enriched lake, between oligotrophic and eutrophic.

Metamorphic rock - a rock that is formed from igneous or sedimentary rocks by elevated pressure and temperature without melting.

Mixed forest - a forest that includes both the coniferous woodlands of the boreal forest and the deciduous woodlands of temperate North America.

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N

Nonnative - in this document, not originating naturally in the Lake Champlain Basin.

Nonpoint source pollution - nutrients or toxic substances that enter water from dispersed and uncontrolled sites rather than through pipes. Sources of nonpoint source pollution include runoff from agricultural practices, urban and forest land, and on-site sewage disposal.

Nuisance species - species causing annoyance or having adverse ecological and/or economic impacts.

Nutrient - a substance that nourishes life. These are essential chemicals needed by plants or animals for growth. If other physical and chemical conditions are appropriate, excessive amounts of nutrients can lead to degradation of water quality by promoting excessive growth, accumulation, and subsequent decay of plants, especially algae. Some nutrients can be toxic to plants and animals at high concentrations.

Nutrient management - an integrated approach designed to maximize the efficient use of nutrients, particularly phosphorus which is found in animal manure and fertilizer.

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O

Oligotrophic - from the Greek for "poorly nourished". Describes a lake with low plant growth and high clarity. Oligotrophic lakes contain little organic matter and have high dissolved oxygen content.

Organic compound - naturally occurring (animal or plant-produced or synthetic) substances containing mainly carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen.

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P

PAH - polycyclic or polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. A class of complex organic compounds, some of which do not easily break down and may cause cancer. PAH compounds are formed from the combustion or burning of organic material and are widespread in the environment. PAHs are commonly formed by forest fires and by the combustion of gasoline and other petroleum products. They often reach the environment through atmospheric fallout and highway runoff.

Pathogens - organisms, usually viruses, bacteria or fungi, capable of causing disease.

PCBs - polychlorinated biphenyls. A group of manufactured chemicals, including about seventy different but closely related compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen and chlorine, used in transformers and capacitors for insulating purposes. If released into the environment, PCBs do not break down for long periods and can biomagnify in food chains. PCBs are suspected of causing cancer in humans and other animals. PCBs are an example of an organic toxic chemical.

Pesticide - substances, or mixture thereof, intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Also, any substance or mixture intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant.

Phenols - organic compounds that are byproducts of petroleum refining, tanning, and textile, dye, and resin manufacturing. Low concentrations cause taste and odor problems in water; higher concentrations can kill aquatic life and humans.

Phosphorus - an essential chemical food element that can contribute to the eutrophication of lakes and other water bodies. Increased phosphorus levels result from discharge of phosphorus-containing materials into surface waters.

Phthalates - a group of chemical compounds used to make synthetic dyes.

Physiographic regions- areas of a region which have a distinct combination of topography, climate, and vegetation.

Phytoplankton - very small, free-floating plants found in water bodies.

Point source pollution - nutrients or toxic substances that enter a water body from a specific entry point, such as a pipe. For example, the discharge from a sewage treatment plant is point source pollution.

Pollutant - something that pollutes.

Pollution - impairment of the land, air, or water quality caused by agricultural, domestic, or industrial waste that negatively impacts beneficial uses of the land, air, or water, or the facilities that serve such beneficial uses.

Pollution prevention - any action such as the efficient use of raw materials, energy, and water, that reduces or eliminates the creation of pollutants. In the Pollution Prevention Act, pollution prevention is defined as source reduction. (see Source reduction)

Population - the number of inhabitants in a country or region; in ecology, a population is a group of organisms of the same species living in a specified area and interbreeding.

Proglacial lake - a lake comprised of glacial melt water in front of a glacier.

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R

Restoration - any action taken to repair, maintain, protect, and enhance the ecological integrity of the Basin.

Riparian (habitat or zone) - habitat occurring along rivers, streams, and creeks that provides for high density, diversity and productivity of plant and animal species.

Runoff - water from rain, melted snow, or agricultural or landscape irrigation that flows over the land surface into a water body.

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S

Salmonids - a member of the family Salmonidae, which includes salmon, trout and whitefishes.

Sedimentary rock - a rock formed from the consolidation of sediments, such as sandstone.

Sedimentation - the deposition or accumulation of sediment, such as sand, silt, or clay.

Sites of concern - areas where toxic substances are found in concentrations greater than acceptable levels, or where several toxic substances are found together.

Source reduction - any practice that reduces the amount of any hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant entering wastewater. Source reduction decreases the hazards to public health and the environment associated with the release of such substances, pollutants, or contaminants. Technology modifications, process or procedure modifications, reformulation or redesign of products, substitution of raw materials, and improvements in housekeeping, maintenance, training or inventory control are all examples of source reduction.

Sprawl - unplanned development of open land.

Stewardship - the concepts of responsible care taking based on the premise that we do not own resources, but are managers of resources and are responsible to future generations for their condition.

Stormwater runoff - precipitation running off of saturated soils and impervious surfaces such as paved parking lots, streets, or roofs.

Sub-basin - a smaller drainage area within a large drainage basin, such as the Saranac River sub-basin of the Lake Champlain basin.

Sustainable (human) use - use of resources in an efficient way without destroying the basis of their productivity, such that they may be used in the present and by future generations.

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T

Terrestrial habitats - upland or dry land environments.

Threatened species - a species with high possibility of becoming endangered in the near future. (see Endangered species)

Topography - the physical features of a surface area including relative elevations and the position of natural and man-made (anthropogenic) features.

Toxic substances - any substance which upon exposure, inhalation, ingestion, or assimilation into any organism, causes death, disease, genetic mutations, physiological malfunctions or physical deformation. Examples of toxic substances are cyanides, phenols, pesticides and heavy metals.

Toxic - poisonous, carcinogenic, or otherwise directly harmful to life.

Trace metals - naturally occurring metals found in small amounts. Their concentrations are sometimes elevated by human activities.

Tributary - a stream or river that flows into a larger stream, river or lake.

Trophic level - refers to the amount of nutrients, such as phosphorus, found in a water body. (see oligotrophic, mesotrophic, and eutrophic)

Trophic state - the extent or condition of eutrophication in a body of water.

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U

Urban runoff - stormwater from city streets and adjacent domestic or commercial properties that may carry pollutants of various kinds into sewer systems and/or receiving waters.

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V

Vegetative cover - refers to vegetation (grass, cropland, forest, etc.)

Volatile organic compound (VOC) - any organic compound that participates in atmospheric photochemical reactions except those designated by the EPA as having negligible photochemical reactivity.

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W

Water column - all the water in a lake from the sediments at the bottom to the surface.

Watershed - the geographic reach within which water drains into a particular river, stream, or body of water. A watershed includes both the land and the body of water into which the land drains.

Watershed association - a citizen based group interested in protecting a nearby waterway and its surrounding drainage area.

Watershed planning - cooperative local and regional land use planning that recognizes watershed boundaries rather than political boundaries and considers water resource management as the central planning objective.

Wetland restoration - any action that aids in preserving, repairing, maintaining, or enhancing wetlands. (see wetlands)

Wetlands - lands that are transitional between land and water where the water table is usually at or near the surface of the land. Wetlands are characterized by unique hydric soils and contain plant and animal communities adapted to aquatic or intermittently wet conditions. Swamps, bogs, wet meadows, and marshes are examples of wetlands. The boundary of Lake Champlain wetlands has been defined at 105 feet (31.1 meters) above sea level.

Wildlife - for the purposes of this Plan, the term "wildlife" includes and non-domesticated mammal, fish, bird, reptile, mollusk, crustacean, arthropod and other invertebrate or plant.

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Z

Zoning regulations - regulations enacted by towns, states or municipalities to guide development, such as road and shoreline setbacks.

Zooplankton - microscopic aquatic animals that drift in the current or swim weakly.

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Lake Champlain Basin Program, 2004
Design: Nicole L. Ballinger (LCBP) | Maps: Northern Cartographic and LCBP