The man-made Champlain Canal must be disconnected from Lake Champlain immediately. Approximately 20 invasive species have already been introduced to Lake Champlain through the canal, and the spiny waterflea threatens to be the next invasive species that invades Lake Champlain. Like other lakes in the U.S., the Lake Champlain ecosystem, including fish and wildlife, and the surrounding economy will be significantly compromised with the invasion of the spiny waterflea. It is estimated that the total annual cost of invasives linked to the canal is nearly $500 million (Pimentel, 2005; http://bit.ly/Ozpywt), clearly illustrating the economic importance of disconnecting the canal from Lake Champlain. With 5,000 pleasure boats using the canal each year (Dan Weiller, spokesman for the NY State Canal Corp), it costs $100,000 of public funds per boat to keep the canal open.
Numerous options exist to close the canal while accomodating boat traffic. Funding has already been set aside to cover the costs of closing the canal.
"It certainly affects a lot of people in New York, and I have gotten them the money, so it is really a no-brainer," Senator Leahy said about closing the Champlain Canal. "How many species have to come in before they do something?"
Completed in 1823, the 60-mile long Champlain canal connected Lake Champlain to the Hudson river for the first time. At its peak, thousands of people used the canal to transport goods and for transportation, but today the canal is primarily used by recreational boaters and some commercial vessels.
“Assertions that New York cannot close the canal at any time for any reason simply do not stand up. A simple check of the Canal Corporation website reveals that emergency canal closures are standard operating procedure – in fact a portion of the Erie Canal is closed today," Senator Leahy pointed out.
Please sign and share this petition to protect Lake Champlain and the regional economy from destructive invasive species.
You can learn more about the effort to disconnect the canal here: http://bit.ly/ChampCanal
You can also read "Feasibility of Champlain Canal Aquatic Nuisance Species Barrier Options" for suggested solutions on how to close the canal: http://www.uvm.edu:8889/~seagrant/communications/assets/ansbarrierrprt06.pdf
An estimated $500 million per year will be needed to mitigate the invasive species (http://www.uvm.edu:8889/~seagrant/communications/assets/ansbarrierrprt06.pdf) introduced through the canal, far outweighing the benefits of keeping the canal open. With 5,000 pleasure boats traveling through the canal annually, it will cost the public $100,000 per boat to keep the canal open. The amount of goods transported through the canal has declined dramatically over the years, which could now be replaced with three train loads. With much of the goods being delivered from the Hudson River to Whitehall and other places south of Lake Champlain, closing the canal may not influence commercial vessel travel.
It is imperative to the regional economy, way of life, and the entire Lake Champlain ecosystem that the Champlain canal is permanently closed. As shown in other freshwater lakes in the U.S., invasive species such as the spiny waterflea can decimate plankton populations and drastically alter ecosystems.
Disconnecting the Champlain Canal from Lake Champlain is a must so we can ensure that Lake Champlain and the regional economy are healthy.