The Headwaters Campaign is an effort to address the unique challenges faced by lake associations in the headwaters of the St. Lawrence River, which includes the Raquette River watershed, as they strive to stop the spread of invasive species and meet other critical stewardship needs.
The partnership is led by the Adirondack Council (The Council) and the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT), and includes the Long Lake Association, the Blue Mountain Lake Association and the Raquette Lake Preservation Foundation (RLPF). NFCT has received support for this project from the New York Great Lakes Basin Small Grants Program. The Council has matched those funds with contributions from private donors supporting a Clean Water Advocate in the Raquette River Headwaters.
“The Adirondack Park has abundant fresh water resources,” said Blake Neumann, Clean Water Advocate with The Council. “Five major river systems find their headwaters here. The Park boasts more than 2,800 lakes and ponds, and more than 1,500 miles of rivers, fed by nearly 30,000 miles of streams. But these resources are facing threats, some of which will likely be exacerbated by a changing climate. Moreover, lake associations charged with managing these varied stressors frequently operate on shoestring budgets with all-volunteer capacity that is stretched thin for all they need to accomplish. The Headwaters Campaign is a significant step toward providing much needed support to the organizations operating on the frontlines of environmental stewardship.”
“As stewards of waterways from New York to Maine, we understand the Herculean effort it takes to take care of the environment while also ensuring access for users,” said NFCT Executive Director Karrie Thomas. “Whether it’s maintaining access points and campsites or protecting water quality by preventing erosion and the spread of invasive species, it takes time, money and constant vigilance to preserve these wild places. Our goal with the Headwaters Campaign is to increase the capacity of the boots-on-the-ground lake associations in the Adirondacks.”
The Adirondack Council began working in the Raquette Lake Watershed in 2021 through a partnership with the Raquette Lake Preservation Foundation. That partnership helped illuminate some of the specific support gaps that RLPF and other lake associations across the region were facing in performing critical stewardship work. The Northern Forest Canoe Trail, including the 90-Miler race route, passes through three St. Lawrence watershed headwaters communities: Raquette Lake, Blue Mountain Lake and Long Lake.
Through this project, the Council, the NFCT and the three communities will work together to advance coordinated lake association communications, events and public education. In addition, the partnership will benefit from the expertise of the Adirondack Watershed Institute and Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program. The unique partnership between these entities will allow for promoting responsible recreation, economic development and conservation outcomes in a place-based, community-focused setting.
A new position has been created to conduct the work of the Headwaters Campaign. NFCT will be hiring a Headwaters Coordinator, a first of its kind position based in the Raquette Lake Watershed. With guidance from the Council, this coordinator will serve as an ambassador for the lake associations in the region, identifying new and creative ways to engage and communicate with the public.
They will help build the capacity of lake associations to share critical information about invasive species prevention, Leave No Trace, responsible recreation and tourism, and other key stewardship messaging. This collaborative effort will result in a unified communications strategy helping the environment, local businesses, governments and other partners to improve conservation and community outcomes.
The Headwaters Campaign is currently hiring for the Headwaters Coordinator. To learn more about the campaign, the position and find out how to apply, click here.
Photo of Raquette River in Colton, courtesy Wikimedia user Jondude11.