A colony of zebra mussels.
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Nuisance Aquatic Species

Zebra mussels Several nonnative aquatic plants and animals threaten the Lake Champlain Basin's native fish, wildlife and plants, and impede recreational activities. In some cases, they have had a substantial ecological and economic impact. These species, labeled "nuisances," entered Lake Champlain via the Champlain Canal, the Richelieu River and over land, primarily through human activities such as boating and bait transport. Nuisance nonnative plants include water chestnut, Eurasian watermilfoil and purple loosestrife. Zebra mussels and sea lamprey are nuisances that have already invaded Lake Champlain, and other species, such as alewives present future threats.

Water chestnut harvester The plan for the Lake Champlain Basin, Opportunities for Action lists the control of these invader species as one of its highest priorities. It calls for comprehensive management of nonnative aquatic species, along with continued control, research and monitoring efforts for sea lamprey, zebra mussels, water chestnut, and Eurasian watermilfoil.

The Lake Champlain Basin Program and its partners have been working to identify disruptive nuisance species, evaluate management alternatives and recommend appropriate controls to minimize the impacts of these species. For example, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VT DEC) monitors the Lake and its tributaries for zebra mussels and coordinates the water chestnut control program using funding from the Lake Champlain Basin Program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, VT DEC and others. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, in cooperation with New York and Vermont, is working on several sea lamprey control and fish stocking programs. The LCBP holds a seat on the National Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force.

Sea lamprey mouth Everyone can help to prevent the spread of nuisance nonnative aquatic plants and animals when recreating on Lake Champlain and other lakes. Citizens can learn to identify nuisance species and report new infestations to the Lake Champlain Basin Program or state agencies. Boat owners and anglers can help prevent the spread of invasive species by carefully cleaning and inspecting boats and properly disposing of bait fish.

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