Native Plant Buffers Expanding on Lake George

November 3, 2014
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Over the past year an additional 1,000 feet of shoreline around the Lake George basin was outfitted with native plant buffers, which help naturally filter pollutants in storm water runoff before it flows into the lake.

A grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program helped pay for 20 projects as part of the Buffer Lake George Project. Lake George is part of the Lake Champlain watershed.

The Fund for Lake George won the grant in 2012 and partners with local plant nurseries and volunteers as well as the landowners who apply for grant funding to plant the buffers. Funding is still available, and landowners with tributary or lakeside properties can find an application at

To qualify, landowners must meet criteria, like show visible areas of erosion on the shoreline or an area where there is algae growth indicating nutrients getting into the lake. It’s also favorable if landowners with adjacent property want to work together to plant a continuous buffer.

It was a habitat enhancement grant, and it was a grant to demonstrate the benefits of reestablishing native vegetation buffers along the shoreline in hopes of improving water quality by slowing down runoff and allowing it to infiltrate the ground, removing sediment and stabilizing the shoreline with rooted vegetation to prevent erosion, too,” said Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky.

In 2011, the fund earned an Environmental Quality Award from the United States Environmental Protection Agency for its publication, “Do-It-Yourself Water Quality: A Landowner’s Guide to Property Management that Protects Lake George.”

This is taking what is in the book and putting it into the field in real life,” Navitsky said. “We also work with the property owners so they can see how the installation of plants will decrease runoff and we show how that will happen.”

Native buffers were planted all around in Cleverdale, Assembly Point, Hague and more, as they work with water quality awareness committees in these communities.

It’s not just one particular location,” Navitsky said.

The plants help filter runoff, but they also are aesthetically pleasing and wildlife also welcome them providing a smooth transition between land and water, he said.

The types of plants will encourage some birds to come in and feast there and have berries, or you have perennials that encourage pollinators” he said.

A more natural shoreline also can help deter Canada geese and other nuisance waterfowl. Otherwise green grass directly off the lake is inviting for them.
The Lake George Association in September partnered with the Norowal Cabin Owners’ Association to install a native plant buffer along a section of the its shoreline.

We were very excited to partner with the homeowner’s association on this project. Complaints about Canada geese are nothing new around the lake. In fact, earlier this summer we partnered with USDA/APHIS Wildlife Services to begin a Canada goose survey of the Lake as a first step in developing a management plan,” said Emily DeBolt, LGA’s Outreach Coordinator in a news release. “We can’t really blame the geese. I know it isn’t what people want to hear, but we have created an ideal scenario for them and they are just obliging.”

Navitsky said the program provided funding for the purchase of the plants, and the site plan for where the plants should be installed for maximum benefit. The homeowners then agree to either work with volunteers, plant the vegetation themselves or hire a contractor as “a kind of in-kind match the homeowner would provide for this project,” Navitsky said.

The grant provides up to $700 for each project, and the landowner must agree to put signage up by the buffer. He said the nurseries work with them, offering plants at wholesale prices on a good selection of native plants.

Navitsky said the grant totaled about $10,000, and there is about $1,000 remaining. The Fund also puts some of its own money toward the program.

We’ve got several properties left that we can cover with the grant. Then we’ll move into transition into our own program,” Navitsky said.

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