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AUSABLE WATER WISE: Protecting water, supporting the community

Winter is a time for rest and a time for preparation for our communities, human and wild alike. (Photo provided — Larry Master)

Winter is upon us. It’s a time of rest and a time of preparation. At the Ausable River Association, we look back at the work we’ve done, celebrate our successes, assess our methods and results, check in with our partners and plan the year ahead.

One thing is certain, we are committed to innovative, science-based work that protects and restores our streams and lakes and provides solutions for our communities. Here are some highlights from the past year:

¯ Our Salt Use Reduction Initiative continues to focus on the health of Mirror Lake. This spring, again, the lake did not turn over, reducing oxygen for aquatic life and making it vulnerable to harmful algae blooms. This summer, we laid the groundwork for intensive surveys of winter salt use by residents, business owners, contractors, and municipalities around the lake. Quantifying the use of salt in the watershed and working with the community to reduce its use is essential. Our year-round monitoring of the lake’s chemistry also continues.

¯ This year, two critical in-stream restoration projects created long-term flood resilience, increased wildlife habitat, and protected valuable drinking water resources in the towns of Jay and Keene. North Country Public Radio’s Emily Russell told a story on National Public Radio’s “Here and Now” about our efforts to restore the river’s health on both the East and West Branch and create resilience for our communities. This recognition encourages our belief that, with continued support, we can extend our work throughout the watershed and make it a model for other communities.

¯ Years of patient study of thriving riparian areas has revealed a core group of hardy species that flourish in the toughest of circumstances. Our science staff is ready to establish a small but essential native plant nursery in 2022. Imagine, with a few years of hard work, plants and seeds from our own stocks supporting our efforts to rebuild essential streamside buffers of plants and trees.

¯ And our science and outreach team reached hundreds of youths and adults through hands-on education programs and tours, providing opportunities to learn about the watershed, its streams and lakes, and the wildlife that relies on them. Thousands more joined our efforts and followed our stories through our website and social media, learning more about the Ausable watershed and the many ways — large and small — we all can protect and restore it.

The Ausable River Association’s success does not exist in a vacuum. We rely on supporters and on many federal, state, and local government agencies. And it’s worth noting at year’s-end that we also depend on our many nonprofit sister organizations, big and small, that help us get good work done or provide support to the communities we live in and rely on.

Scientific partners such as the Adirondack Watershed Institute and Wildlife Conservation Society, education and advocacy partners such as the all-volunteer Mirror Lake Watershed Association and the Adirondack Mountain Club, conservation partners such as the The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust, and the passionate voices of ADK Action and the Adirondack Council all help us understand, protect, and steward the natural world.

Other groups such as the Adirondack Foundation and the Adirondack North Country Association are essential to ensuring the places we work provide abundant resources that can be shared by many.

And since we are animal lovers at the Ausable River Association, we’re shouting out our local animal shelters, the North Country SPCA and Tri-Lake Humane Society, and animal rescues, the Joshua Fund and Crane Mountain Valley Horse Rescue. There are so many more community organizations, hard-working nonprofit professionals, and dedicated volunteers quietly making an enormous difference for this special place where we live. Please consider thanking them with a year-end donation.

It may be unusual for one nonprofit in search of a year-end donation to remind you that many other worthy groups are out there, but, in the end, our success depends on the success of others.

End-of-year donations matter, and your generosity to our community is greatly appreciated.

At the Ausable River Association, every dollar you donate makes a difference, keeping solution-oriented science alive protecting lakes, streams, and wetlands in the Ausable watershed and beyond. Opportunities abound. We’ll be making the most of them and sharing new successes with you throughout the year ahead. Happy holidays and thank you for your ongoing support!

Find us online at ausableriver.org or by emailing contactus@ausableriver.org.

(Kelley Tucker is the executive director of the Ausable River Association.)