Lake Iroquois opens for the season (5/28/09)

May 28, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

The Lake Iroquois Recreation District opened its 2009 summer season over the weekend, though only a few residents took to the beach. Weather turned out to be iffy over Memorial Day weekend, with warm temperatures offset by cool winds and even some rain.


    Observer photo by Ben Sarle
Hinesburg residents Heather Rice (left) and her daughter, Alya MacManaway, enjoy Lake Iroquois on Monday.


    Courtesy photo by Bob Pasco
Greeter program coordinator Audrey Wallace of St. George (from left), Darby Brazoski of Connecticut and Amy Bovee of New Hampshire will greet boaters at Lake Iroquois this summer and check watercraft for invasive species. Deirdre Walsh of Bristol, who is not pictured, will also serve as a greeter.

Still, Ken Martin, owner of the park’s snack bar, said he hopes high temperatures and bright sunshine will be the norm this season at the beach, especially on the weekends.

“The more sun, the better,” said Martin, owner of the Oasis on Lake Iroquois. “I’m hoping this summer will be a sunny one.”

Boaters to the lake also encountered a “greeter team” of college students, checking boats and trailers for non-native plants and educating people about the dangers of invasive species. According to Bob Pasco of the Lake Iroquois Association, this will be the first year the organization is paying weekend greeters to talk to boaters at the Lake Iroquois State Fishing Access.

The towns of Hinesburg, Richmond, St. George and Williston oversee the park. Daily passes to the park’s beach are available for residents for $5 and $3 for senior citizens. Children under 12 are free.

Seasonal permits are also available. Williston residents can pay $25 for the year, and add a second family vehicle to the permit for $14. Senior citizens 62 and older can pay $12 for a season pass.

Summer camps are available to Williston residents for $60.

Williston Public Works Director Neil Boyden said the park would be open every weekend until the last day of school on Friday, June 12. The park will then be open daily, from 9 a.m. to dusk, until Labor Day.

Boyden also said activities are weather dependent and the park and beach might not open on rainy days. The same can be said for Martin and the Oasis snack bar.

Martin, who is the transportation director for Champlain Valley Union High School, is entering his second season as the owner of the park’s snack bar. It offers a variety of lunch items, including hamburgers, hot dogs and fries. Ice cream and other desserts are also available.

Last year, Martin said, the weather made it difficult on his business. Rain dampened many weekends in June and July. Martin said if heavy rains are forecast for any days this summer, he’ll probably close for the day.

“I really can’t judge last year because it was such a bad weather season,” Martin said.

Stopping invasive species

At the lake’s boat ramp, college students studying biology and the environment have been hired by the Lake Iroquois Association to inform boaters about the harmful effects of invasive species on the lake’s ecosystem.

St. George resident and Oberlin College student Audrey Wallace said Lake Iroquois’ proximity to Lake Champlain makes it important to check for invasive species. Wallace, who will work at the lake as a greeter, said problem organisms, such as zebra mussels, can attach themselves to a boat without the owner knowing. The greeters will check boats and trailers before they enter the lake to make sure no invasive species enter the water.

“We see if (the boats) have been in other bodies of water recently,” Wallace said. “We’re already facing a milfoil problem in the lake, so we don’t want more of that.”

Wallace said boaters are understanding of the greeters’ responsibilities and often assist them in looking for invasive species that may be attached to their boats.

Along with Wallace, the Lake Iroquois Association has hired three University of Vermont students as greeters — Amy Bovee, Darby Brazoski and Deirdre Walsh. Pasco said association volunteers will act as greeters during the week.