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Welcome to stick season! I love to go to camp during this transitional period between early fall

and winter in the NEK. You see things in the forest that were previously obscured by the

foliage. The landscape is physically the same, yet it feels so different. And there Is a certain

excitement and urgency in the air – whether it be having enough firewood for the season,

winterizing camp, or if you a hunter getting that buck.


Excitement and urgency are two good themes for this newsletter. We have a lot to share about everything that has happened since our annual meeting at Quimby’s last August. Let’s start with excitement.


Lake Watershed Plan for Big and Little Averill Lakes


In early October the ALA leadership was contacted by Alison Marchione of VTDEC’s Lakes and Ponds Division about the potential for a Lake Watershed Action Plan (LWAP) for both Big and Little Averill Lakes. Lakes and Ponds annually “short lists” lakes in Vermont that meet the three criteria – increasing phosphorus trends, disturbed watershed, and an active and engaged lake association. This year, Big and Little Averill made it to the short list of potential lakes for the first time. Then on November 2, 2023 – the ALA was notified that Big and Little had been selected!

An LWAP is an assessment and planning tool that is used to identify and prioritize the greatest

threats to our specific lake ecosystems. A completed LWAP will include results from a lake

watershed assessment of the shoreline, tributaries (of which the ALA has played a huge role on Little Averill), and hydrologically connected roads; identification of nutrient and sediment

runoff sources within the watershed; and prioritization and ranking of the severity of the

identified sources with recommendations for protection and restoration. The prioritized list of

restoration and protection projects can be considered for funding under Vermont’s Clean

Water Initiative Program and other sources.

The LWAP process is collaborative and participatory in nature which at a minimum will include

representation by VTDEC and the ALA but will be open to all individual owners, lake users, other stakeholder groups like ARCO and the Averill Corporation, local businesses, and the UTG. The next step is that VTDEC will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to contractors who can submit proposals for the project. The RFP will be released in December, and a selection will be made in January/February of 2024. The LWAP process will kick off in spring 2024 with extensive outreach and planning through at least 2026. There are only 5 DEC funded LWAPs – Maidstone Lake, Lake Fairlee, Lake Willoughby, Shadow Lake, and Lake Morey.


4 new Lake Wise Awards on Little Averill Lake


Thanks to Lu Van Zeeland’s initial education and advocacy – camp owners on Big and Little

Averill lake are requesting Lake Wise assessments on their property conducted by Alison

Marchione at VTDEC or Sam Mayne of Essex County’s Natural Resources Conservation District. I am proud to announce that 4 more camps on Little Averill received their Lake Wise Awards in September. We are 1-2 away from receiving a lake-wide Gold Award from the state -- issued when 15% or more of all of the properties on the lake have earned Lake Wise Award. As of January 2023 there were only 3 lakes that had earned the Gold Award – Echo Lake, Lake Seymour, and Lake Iroquois.



ALA's Bernie Gracy presents at the 2023 International Symposium of the North

American Lake Management Society.


With the encouragement and support of VTDEC’s Kellie Merrell and Dr. Brandon Wiltse of Paul Smith’s College, Bernie was invited to give a very well-attended talk at NALMS 2023 in Erie Pennsylvania on October 25th . There he described our strategy management system and decision tools that we used at the ALA leadership retreat last May and shared at the Annual Meeting as handouts.

More information on the program can be found at https://www.nalms.org/nalms2023/program/

He also took the opportunity to attend other sessions. Of particular interest, with standing room only attendance, were 4 presentations on Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms (C-HABs) in Oligotrophic Waters. One in particular about Skaneateles Lake informs one of the urgent topics below.


New Constitution, Leadership, Committee, and Board of the Averill Lakes Association


At the 2023 Annual Meeting of the ALA, the membership unanimously adopted a

comprehensive revision of our Constitution and By-Laws. Among the recommendations coming out of our May 2023 strategy offsite and enshrined in the Constitution was the addition of an “at-large” member of the leadership team, adoption of a “working” board of directors where each board member would have a defined role and responsibility in their term of office, and (in the case of a vacancy) where a member of the leadership could assume a dual role as a director provided they fully assume that director’s role.

To that end the following were elected or re-elected to the following roles:

Leadership

  •  President: Bernie Gracy

  • Vice President: Susan Gresser

  • Treasurer: Gennette Carr

  • Secretary: Connie Jackson

  • Member-At-Large: Dave Leidy

Board of Directors

  •  Director of Community Science and Stewardship: Connie Jackson

  •  Director of Membership: Gennette Carr

  •  Director of Communications: Tim Cowan

  •  Director of Community and Media Relations: Susan Gresser

  •  Director of Fundraising: Don Tase

  •  Director of Events: Rebecca Scott


As we transition to this operating model we would like to thank past board members Monique

Petrofsky, Charlie Morrison, Craig Nolan, and Eric Hauschild for their service, wise counsel, and gift of time to the Averill Lakes Association.


The current leadership team and board of directors are fully desirous of maximizing the number of active working board participants and minimizing those in dual role responsibilities. The execution of our 3-year strategic plan and the pending LWAPs for Big and Little Averill Lakes will drive the need for volunteers on the board, supporting board committees, LWAP projects, and strategic initiatives. I am pleased that someone else has come forward to potentially lead a board role and relieve a “dual-roler”. Stay tuned for other opportunities to contribute to your community in 2024.


New Legal Committee

Our By-Laws direct us that "parliamentary proceedings shall govern all meetings."  We use

Roberts Rules of Order.  Under Robert’s, a new committee can be named and constituted. A

committee is understood in parliamentary proceedings as a body of one or more persons

elected or appointed to consider, investigate, or take action on certain matters or subjects.

It was the strong recommendation of members of our leadership team and board that we

should have legal counsel as we navigate a complex future – just as Tom Dunn did historically

on lake levels with the PUC and the Coaticook River Water Power Company. And with the

absolutely outstanding leadership and contribution that Jim Clemons has provided in the

drafting of our petition to opt-in for prohibition for wake sports – Jim was an obvious choice.

Robert’s has 5 methods for appointing members to a committee:

  1. Appointment by the Chair

  2. Nomination by the Chair and Election by Voice Vote

  3. Appointment by Motion

  4. Floor Nominations and Election by Voice Vote

  5. Election by Ballot

Robert’s recognizes that “in the absence of special conditions, appointment of committees by

the chair…is usually the best method in large assemblies, and it is the ordinary procedure in

many smaller societies as well” [RONR (12th. ed), §50:13d]. Under that rubric and with the

enthusiastic assent of the leadership, I formed a standing legal committee chaired by Jim at our 3Q23 board meeting and we will continue to welcome Jim’s counsel, leadership, and

contribution.


We now have electronic payments!


We are excited to announce that we are now able to accept electronic payments for camp

dues, the annual meeting, and donations (currently not tax deductible) to the Averill Lakes

Association via our website. Members will still have the opportunity to pay by cash or check at the annual meeting but we believe all will appreciate the convenience of paying online. More information on how to do this will be forthcoming in subsequent newsletters, emails, and mailings as we promote membership renewals and our 2024 Annual Meeting.

2023 Water Clarity Results Posted on the Big and Little Averill Resource Pages on averilllakes.org


Continued thanks to Don Tase for his years of service in water quality testing and a HUGE shoutout to Kim Hubbard for our first year of testing on Big Averill. Mark Mitchell, state of VT Limnologist and Lay Monitoring Program Coordinator indicated that all summer means in both lakes for 2023 were within the Class A1 lake nutrient criteria in Vermont's Water Quality Standards.


And now on to the more urgent matters.,,


Wakeboat/Wake Sports rule status, ARCO, Little Averill, and ALA Petition Status

Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore has not formalized the state-

wide wake sport rule yet. Action is expected next year. In anticipation, Jim Clemons, Tim

Cowan, and Susan Gresser have drafted an outstanding petition to VTDEC on behalf of the ALA to exercise its rulemaking authority in accordance with 10 VSA§1424(e) to adopt rules to

prohibit wake sports and the use of wake boats on both Big Averill and Little Averill Lakes. The petition is a work of legal and story-telling art on which they have spent numerous hours in drafts and revisions. We owe them all a debt of gratitude for this work which is an example of proactive, anticipatory leadership. In the interim, ARCO has voted to ban wake boats and wake sports from using its Little Averill boat launch! A sign will be posted at the launch next spring indicating that “Wake Boats are Prohibited from Using this Launch Due to Concerns Over Public Safety and Shoreline Erosion Per the Averill Recreational Camp Owners, Inc.


Greeter Program Pilot Review on Big Averill


At the 3Q23 Board Meeting, Susan Gresser provided a retrospective on our one-month-long

“greeter” program pilot at the Big Averill Lake boat launch. The primary feedback to scale the

program at both lakes will be the need to raise funds (through state funds and our own efforts)

to pay boat stewards to staff the launches during the summer. Doing this at one or both lakes

will be a primary topic of discussion at the 4Q23 board meeting on December 14th .


Cyanobacteria Patrols on Big and Little Averill Lakes

One of the top adopted priorities coming out of our 2023-2025 strategic plan was to establish a Cyanobacteria Patrol on both lakes. This would include shoreline and open water observations and we hope in the near future would also include sampling and lab analysis. From sessions at NALMS 2023 and other lakes in New England and the Adirondack Park, C-HABs form during the warmer months and as late as mid-October.

We will be using our website in 2024 to inform members on how they can assist in shoreline

detection and the option to receive formal training from VTDEC to become a Cyanobacteria

Monitor. We would also ask if there is anyone on Big Averill and Little Averill with a boat who

might be interested in open water monitoring and potential sampling between at least late

June and late September (preferably to mid-October) one day a week on the same day each

week. If there is interest – please contact us at info@averilllakes.org.


4Q23 Quarterly Meeting Open Invitation


As discussed at the 2023 Annual Meeting – all of our quarterly meetings will be open to the

membership. This is a great way for members and prospective volunteers to learn how we are

navigating the issues and opportunities before us as well as prospective leaders and board

members to see if you have interest in guiding the organization forward. If you have interest in

attending, please email us at info@averilllakes.org no later than December 10th , 2023 and we

will forward the Zoom link to you.


Wow that was a long one! So much going on! As we enter the Thanksgiving season, we would

like to thank our members, volunteers, and supporters for everything that you do for our

beautiful corner of the world.


On behalf of the Leadership and Board of Directors,

Bernie Gracy

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Hi Lake Lovers-

We are hoping to see most of you at the August 26th Picnic/annual meeting at Quimby's. We have a jam packed agenda for the meeting so we wanted to issue this "member extra" to report on all of the good work that our members have done on behalf of our lakes and our community. Many of you have volunteered your time and support for these initiatives and the Association greatly appreciates your involvement.

Thanks to Lu Van Zeeland's advocacy, more landowners have participated in the Lakewise Program, a free educational program offered by the DEC, offering land and stormwater management with the goal of protecting our lakes. At the annual meeting we intend to provide some up to date metrics on the number of assessments done as well as the number of camp owners earning the Lake Wise award on both lakes.

Water quality monitoring is now occurring on both lakes biweekly by Kim Hubbard and Don Tase in concert with the VT DEC's Lay Monitoring Program. Tributary testing for Phosphorus and Nitrogen continues for a 2nd season on Little Averill thanks to Connie Jackson and the VT DEC's LaRosa Partnership Program. Preparation, storage, and pickup of our samples occurs at the Lake View Store thanks to Dave Leidy.

We just completed a pilot Greeter Program for the month of July at the Big Averill boat launch. While I coordinated the pilot, many Big Averill landowners volunteered their time on weekends to inspect boats and inform boat owners of the threat of Aquatic Invasive Species.

Volunteers participated in the Loon Project with Eric Hanson helping repair the floating nests at the beginning of the season and report to Eric loon nesting behavior. On Big Averill, both nesting pairs were successful in hatching chicks. On Little Averill the north nest failed (egg found in the lake) and the west nest got a late start. She was still sitting on it as of the 31st of July. In cooperation with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, board member Rebecca Scott placed lead collection tubes at both Averill lake launches to "get the lead out" and protect our loons and other water fowl.

And last but not least three lakeowners have completed a petition backed by the association and several agencies to present to the DEC for a ban of wake boats on the Averills. Many of you spoke at the hearing in February and again at this final public hearing August 1st. The proposed regulation will now go before the legislators and once accepted we will file our petition.

Good work and energy from all of you make this association thrive. Please get in touch if you wish to participate in any of our projects, have ideas/passion for additional initiatives, and/or want to join our "Working Board". It takes all of us to keep our lakes pristine and special. We know that you are well aware of how unique our place is in the Northeast Kingdom.

On behalf of the leadership and Board of Directors Susan Gresser, Director, Averill Lakes Association

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We hope you are all enjoying moments of summer in the Averill Lakes despite the historic and recurring rainfall in the region. We have some important updates for you - a new 2023-2025 set of strategic priorities, a proposed revision of our bylaws, and a reminder / registration link to the Annual Meeting.

2023 - 2025 Priorities for the Averill Lakes Association As the summer season began, your ALA leadership and directors gathered at Quimby Country to craft a 2023-2025 strategy for the organization. There was substantial prework for this meeting done last spring. This included:

  • A comprehensive ALA SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)

  • An ALA ACEs inventory (Assets, Capabilities, and Enablers)

  • A comprehensive severity/likelihood risk assessment for our lakes and organization

  • A PESTLE factors assessment (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal & Regulatory, and Environmental)

Handouts of this prework (with updates made in the meeting) will be made available and referred to at our 8/28 annual meeting at Quimby Country.


Our agenda for that meeting was as follows:

  1. Review of baseline consolidated SWOT, PESTLE, ACEs, and Severity/Likelihood Assessment - what does it inform us as a set of strategic questions for our lakes, this organization, and the community? What issue(s) should we consider tackling?

  2. Where will the ALA focus our efforts and why?

  3. What would success look like (quantitative and/or qualitative) for the top 3-5 priorities?

  4. How should the ALA evolve based on 1,2, and 3 above. How should we organize, what new/revised roles and responsibilities? Board responsibilities? Partnerships? Technical Advisors? What type of talent should we recruit? What are our mutual obligations to each other, the membership, and the community?

The review and in-meeting update of the pre-work materials in agenda item #1 generated 14 candidate priorities in agenda item #2 of which 5 were prioritized in agenda item #3. The 14 candidate priorities were:

  1. Expand education and awareness to members, camp owners, and the community

  2. Continue and expand water testing in cooperation with VTDEC on Big and Little Averill

  3. Increase ALA membership

  4. Expand scope of water testing with funding from the ALA

  5. Reorganize the Board and Leadership

  6. Create a 501(c)(3) to allow tax deductible donations to the ALA

  7. Redefine/refine the ALA mission statement and vision

  8. Publish annual reports on our lakes

  9. Enhance partnerships with local, regional, state, and federal entities

  10. Create Community cleanup days

  11. Establish Cyanobacterial patrols (with state training)

  12. Establish Aquatic Invasive Species patrols (with state training)

  13. Establish boat washing/decontamination station/site

  14. Launch a capital campaign to fund boat site decontamination, enhanced water quality testing, boat ramp stewards, and future risks (e.g. mitigation of invasive species)

After vigorous definitions and debate - each participating leader and director was given 5 votes (with only 1 vote allowed per topic) on the 14 candidate priorities. The top 5 vote getters would be the focus through 2025. The following were the top 5 priorities in rank order:

  1. Expand Education and Awareness to members, camp owners, and the community

  2. Continue and expand water testing in cooperation with VTDEC on Big and Little Averill

  3. Increase ALA membership

  4. Reorganize the Board and Leadership

  5. Establish Cyanobacterial Patrols

We are happy (and proud) to announce that in 2023 we have already DOUBLED the membership of the ALA to 81 camps! We would like to get to 100 by the end of the year!


The leadership and board will be focused on these 5 items through 2025. However we do want to "double click" on "reorganize the board and leadership" as it has driven a proposed revision to our bylaws.


Proposed Revision to the ALA Bylaws As we near the 50th anniversary of the ALA - this process caused much reflection on our mission and vision, our legacy, the new environmental and regulatory challenges we face, and our own governance. After much discussion, we aligned on the concept of a "working board" where directors would not just be valued advisors and stewards but have material roles based on our go forward priorities and challenges for the future. As such we have defined 6 specific and distinct roles for directors, a new "at-large" leadership role, and a more detailed auditor role in an updated draft bylaws document. You can see the draft redlined revision of the bylaws with the new roles here (you will need Microsoft Word to view) or a clean PDF draft revision here. The clean revision of the bylaws will also be made available for every member in attendance at the Annual Meeting. Based on our existing Constitution, this draft (and any amendments made to it at the meeting) must be approved by the membership at the 2023 Annual Meeting. Please come and make your voice heard. Moreover, if you have interest in being a member of our "working board" or an auditor and are willing to take on one of these important roles please let us know.


Reminder of the 2023 Annual Meeting


The 2023 Annual Meeting will take place on August 26th from 12 pm to 3 pm at Quimby Country, 1127 Forest Lake Rd in Norton. You can register for the Annual Meeting here.

On behalf of the leadership and board of the Averill Lakes Association, we wish you a great remaining summer season with days of sunshine and star filled nights and hope to see you at our Annual Meeting. Bernie Gracy President, Averill Lakes Association

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