Roger Crouse has had a camp on Lake Iroquois for over four decades. In 2005 he went to a meeting of the Vermont Federation of Lakes and Ponds and learned that many similar bodies of water were overseen by local associations. He met with fellow camp owners and within two years they had filed papers with the IRS to create the non-profit Lake Iroquois Association with the goal of improving water quality. Crouse currently serves as Vice President.
One of the first things the Association did was hire paid greeters for weekends at the fishing access. The greeters talk to incoming and outgoing boaters about water quality and request permission to examine their boats for invasive species. During the week, volunteers fulfill the same role. Crouse explained that Lake Champlain has 49 different invasive species, and the goal is to prevent those species from entering Lake Iroquois.
“The water quality here has gotten worse,” Crouse said. “We’ve done a lot of work mitigating runoff but the northern end of the lake has a lot of Eurasian milfoil.” This summer, a group from New Hampshire came to Lake Iroquois to engage in what is known as diver assisted suction harvesting, a labor-intensive process of pulling up milfoil by its roots. They focused on the boat launch area since that is where motorboats churning through the water can slice the milfoil, which allows it to multiply.
Unfortunately, the cost of doing that job lake-wide would be prohibitive, so the Lake Iroquois Association has applied to the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation for permission to use two herbicides – Renovate and Sonar – next summer.
The Lake Iroquois Association is not Crouse’s first involvement with a non-profit. He was a founding member of the Vermont Make-A-Wish Foundation and served as their Board Chair in the mid-1990’s.
“That gave me the background to establish a non-profit organization, fundraise and get people interested in a cause,” he said. Crouse’s commitment to Make-A-Wish extended to the national level, where he became a volunteer trainer for issues involving board development and fundraising.
Crouse is retired and he and his wife recently moved to Wake Robin in Shelburne for the months when they are not at their Hinesburg camp. He didn’t go through any formal training to learn about lake ecology, but found that his business experience helped him in a number of ways. Crouse worked in information technology at IBM for 30 years, as well as stints at Trinity College, Vermont Technical College and two other local companies where he served as program manager, providing him with a strong set of organizational skills. Crouse joined the Vermont National Guard in 1967, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1970. He retired from the Guard in 1996.
Thanks to a grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program, the Lake Iroquois Association has purchased a hot-water power washer which they hope to use – with boaters’ permission – next summer. “There’s a lot of education going on and people understand that there is a real need to do something,” Crouse said. “I think the picture is bright, but it will take a long time to make a difference.”