Elmore prides itself as the ‘Beauty Spot of Vermont,’ and Lake Elmore contributes substantially to that image. Lake Elmore supports a variety of outdoor recreational activities, including boating, fishing and swimming. It also serves as an invaluable part of the town’s natural ecosystem and cultural identity. The lake supports four noteworthy plant species, including two rare species of bur-reed (an aquatic flowering perennial) and two rare aquatic buttercups. A marsh located at the south end of Lake Elmore is used by waterfowl and other wildlife species in seasonal migration.
These natural and recreational assets have attracted visitors to Elmore for many years. It has transitioned over the years from an agricultural and forestry community with a few small village centers, to a recreation town centered on Lake Elmore, to a growing bedroom community. Elmore’s population has nearly tripled within the last 40 years (more than doubling between 1970 and 1990). While growth can economically benefit the community, growth also has the potential to degrade the community’s natural and scenic resources, an essential part of its economy.
While working on its Town Plan, the Elmore Planning Commission realized it needed to know more about how future development could impact Lake Elmore. The Town asked the Lamoille County Planning Commission (LCPC) to help it consider how present and future lakeshore development might impact water quality in Lake Elmore.
LCPC was awarded a grant from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources for this effort. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) will be used to measure the amount of stormwater runoff resulting from present and potential future development patterns.
Catastrophic flooding events during recent years have underscored the concern of stormwater runoff in developed areas. As development expands, the amount of impervious surface (paved roads, parking lots and rooftops) increases, the ground’s capacity to absorb rainfall diminishes and the amount of stormwater runoff increases. The GIS analysis will allow the town to examine the environmental impacts of different development patterns, and will provide insight into the potential consequences of future decisions on the water quality of Lake Elmore.