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LOOKING AT THE MIRROR: New vegetation helps protect Mirror Lake shoreline

June 15, 2018
By JESSICA WIMETT , Lake Placid News

As springtime parts its curtain and opens into summer, the vistas surrounding Lake Placid village are transformed anew.

Snowy peaks and purple alpenglow succumb to an array of color - greens and golds against a bright blue sky. The snow and ice melt into rivulets and rivers, and ravens once again share the skies with songbirds and insects.

The village becomes an oasis for vacationers, hikers, Ironman athletes and sightseers flocking to the area to be among the breathtaking wildness of the High Peaks region. And glinting in the backdrop of these summery pursuits is Mirror Lake, whose watershed forms the center of Lake Placid village.

Article Photos

Vegetation is planted along the eastern shore of Mirror Lake.
(Photo provided)

And while Mirror Lake provides exceptional paddling, walking trails and bucolic scenery, it also serves, as its name suggests, as a reflection of the environmental health of this area, and close monitoring provides us with clues to impacts that human activity and development have had on the region.

The Mirror Lake Watershed Association is a nonprofit organization with the mission of maintaining the ecology and beauty of the Mirror Lake watershed and its tributaries. Since 1997, MLWA has worked in collaboration with nonprofits and conservation groups throughout the region to understand these impacts, reduce the stress on the lake, and educate the public to the fortifications that we can make to ensure the vitality of this beloved watershed.

Recently, there has been a collaborative effort to re-vegetate the eastern shoreline of Mirror Lake, which was subject to an ambitious clearing in 2013. The shrubs and trees that line waterfront play a crucial role in the watershed ecosystem. Without this vegetation, shorelines are vulnerable to erosion, habitat disruption, temperature changes, and water quality degradation. The root systems of the native shoreline plants act as a living grid system, holding the soil in place, filtering the water entering into the lake, and providing protective habitat and breeding areas to a host of species.

In an effort coordinated by Nicole Piontek and Brendan Wiltse of the Ausable River Association, this vulnerable eastern shoreline was replanted with a variety of native species which will grow to become the connective fiber of the shoreline once more. Shrubs and trees were the focus of the plantings, including chokeberry, gray birch, highbush cranberry, red osier dogwood and elderberry. All of these plants came from Intervale Conservation Nursery in Burlington, Vermont, chosen for their heartiness and considering that they are all native species.

These plantings will help to achieve a desired native plant community by offering multi-story enhancements to the shoreline which are aesthetically beautiful, as well as attractive to pollinator species, songbirds and mammals, thus ensuring that the Mirror Lake biome flourishes. The shrubs were also chosen with regard to the multi-use nature of the space, both as a park and a popular viewing area for the Ironman competition; subsequently, the plantings were designed to preserve clear views of the lake.

Instrumental in this effort were members from MLWA, and AsRA, along with Arthur Lussi from the Crowne Plaza Resort; his family owns the area and gave his support and participated in these plantings.

In Piontek's words, "I want to thank the Mirror Lake Watershed Association for helping to make this planting a success. These plants will provide stability to the shore of Mirror Lake and also add to the beauty of the area for the many residents and visitors who walk by on Mirror Lake Drive."

If you should find yourself out for a walk around the lake, please take note of the small red flags marking the revegetated area along the eastern shore. They will grow to become integral participants of the Mirror Lake watershed, and a reflection of the great respect and stewardship we residents have for this regional treasure.

To become involved in the Mirror Lake Watershed Association, please visit us at

For more information on the Ausable River Association, visit them online at



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