Deleterious effects of road salt on Lake Champlain’s resident cryptid, Champ

Running along the Adirondacks’ eastern border, 125 mile-long Lake Champlain contains about 6.8 trillion gallons of water, and was once (if only briefly) considered to be a Great Lake. It is approximately 12 miles at its widest and reaches a depth of 400 feet. And of course, it is home to Champ, a lake monster who has resided in these cold fresh waters for hundreds, if not thousands of years. However, new evidence suggests that this long-lived leviathan is now suffering from a slew of health troubles, including high blood pressure, due to increased sodium intake. 

According to the Lake Champlain Basin Program, the watershed of the lake covers 8,234 square miles (an area 19 times larger than the surface of the lake itself), draining rain and snow from New York, Vermont, and Québec. Unfortunately, water is not the only thing flowing into the lake. Over 1.2 million tons of road salt were spread across New York roadways this past winter to help keep roads passable during snow and ice events. The rushing waters of spring are carrying salt into Lake Champlain, posing a threat to aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, water quality, and famous lake monsters. 

It is widely acknowledged that when famed cryptozoologist Albert Samuel Gatschet managed to take Champ’s blood pressure for the first time in 1907, he noted that the fabulous beast was ‘fit as a fiddle.’ Unfortunately, it’s a different story now. Decades of road salt runoff has washed into the lake, leaving poor Champ as salty as a pickle in brine. Unless we take action now to reduce the amount of salt contaminating the lake, this gentle sea monster’s blood pressure will continue to rise, putting him at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. 

Although protecting Champ is not one of the stated goals of our work to reduce road salt in the Adirondacks, we hope that he will greatly benefit from our efforts and live on to delight and mystify future generations. Check out the resources below to learn how you can help us reduce road salt. If you would like to financially support our work, you can make a donation directly to our Road Salt Reduction project to ensure fresh water for lake monsters and other organisms for generations to come. Working together, we can save Champ.

Happy April Fools’ Day! We may not be 100% serious about Champy, but we’re quite serious about protecting water in the Adirondacks. Learn more from the following resources:

Download the Road Map to Reduce Road Salt to read straightforward research summaries detailing the impacts of road salt pollution, and a simple list of best practices that can help us reverse the trend.

Has your community signed on to our Pledge to Reduce Road Salt? This memorandum of understanding identifies issues associated with road salt applications, as well as steps that may be taken to help reduce related impacts. Learn more here. 

Explore our ongoing work to stop road salt pollution on our Road Salt Reduction project page.

You can also check out:
Lake Champlain Sea Grant – Road Salt & Water Quality
Adirondack Council –
The Cost of Road Salt in the Adirondack Park
Ausable River Association – Road Salt Threat


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