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:
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:
Appointment by the Chair
Nomination by the Chair and Election by Voice Vote
Appointment by Motion
Floor Nominations and Election by Voice Vote
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
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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,