The United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services recently published a worldwide report demonstrating that the natural world is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history. The report shows that 75% of all ice-free land has been significantly altered by human activity, and almost 90% of global wetlands have been lost. Worse, more than two thirds of populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles have become threatened in the last 50 years.
However, the report also says that well planned conservation efforts can protect habitat and ecosystems. Signs of conservation efforts making a difference are scattered across the Vermont landscape. One example lies on the shores of Lake Bomoseen. Thanks to community members, town officials, and state agencies including the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Agency of Transportation, lake restoration projects on Lake Bomoseen in Castleton and Lake Raponda in Wilmington stabilized eroding shorelands and improved wildlife habitat.
As it turns out, what is good for water quality and wildlife is also good for humans. By protecting the natural world right at home, along Lake Bomoseen and Lake Raponda, the world just became a little healthier for all.
The projects relied on bioengineering techniques to protect the shorelands. Bioengineering is a shoreline stabilization approach that uses living plant materials as structural components to offer immediate soil protection and reinforcement, create resistance to sliding or shear displacement. Today, if you drive along Cedar Mountain Road which borders Lake Bomoseen or drive just south of the public access to Lake Raponda on Lake Raponda Road, you can see how bioengineering positively impacts ecosystems, water quality, and critical infrastructure like roads. Using biodegradable products, native plants, and natural materials, a living shoreland was re-established along the shorelines of Bomoseen and Raponda. The shorelines had been previously cleared of native vegetation and fallen prey to heightened erosion. Indeed, the loss of vegetation along the lake shore combined with development pressures associated with the presence of a road created instability and active erosion along these shoreline locations.
To address this issue, bioengineering projects were installed along the shorelines of areas that had been impacted by the installation of roads near the shoreline. The new plantings will stabilize the bank, filter water, provide habitat for wildlife, and bring some shade to all Town Beach users.
Amy Picotte is the Lakeshore Manager for the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. Oliver Pierson is the Lakes and Ponds Program Manager for the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.