Vermont Press Releases

ECHO receives grant for invasive species project

News Release -- ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center
February 24, 2015

Jessie Forand
Communications Coordinator
(802) 864-1848, ext. 120
[email protected]


ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, has received a $7,300 grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program.

The funding will support changing one of ECHO’s tanks in our lobby to show 6 animal and 4 plant invasive species. The project, “Aquatic Invasives tank and Interpretation,”will allow ECHO to update its current schooling tank to open in late summer this year.

This new feature will help ECHO continue in its mission of educating to create a healthier Lake Champlain by offering hands-on interactions with both native and invasive species in the science center and beyond.

“Invasive species are a significant problem in Lake Champlain. The past year saw the 51st non-native species arrive in Lake Champlain through human transport,” said ECHO Executive Director Phelan Fretz. “By presenting invasive species in Lake Champlain and how we all can help stop more from being introduced, we will help to maintain this critical ecological system.”

The 2,000 gallon tank will tell the story of invasive species’ arrival in Lake Champlain, helping to educate visitors about the dangers and methods of their spread to create effective citizen scientists and, ultimately, a cleaner, healthier Lake Champlain.

This project will offer the only opportunity in the Lake Champlain Basin to view the invasive species in an accessible, public space.

Live invasive fish species and reproductions of invasive aquatic plants will be accompanied by informative graphics, a tablet-based interactive game, and live in-tank webcam and interactive feature, all to be used in daily ECHO programming provided to its 280,000 annual on-site and online guests.

“Invasive species cause ecological havoc. Without typical predators, the recently introduced alewife fish will have huge population explosion and die-off — resulting in rotting fish at the water’s edge,” according to Fretz. “They are a nuisance for us. Just think about what a walk along shallow Lake Champlain would be like without the invasive zebra mussel that was introduced in 1993.”

A workplan will be submitted to the LCBP for approval this spring and the project is expected to be completed by summer.


ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is an innovative science center and lake aquarium located on Burlington, Vermont’s Waterfront. ECHO leverages its unique setting to inspire and engage people to become advocates for a healthier lake champlain. ECHO uses its numerous interactive exhibits and animal ambassadors to educate and delight about the Ecology, Culture, History, and Opportunity for stewardship of the Lake Champlain Basin. ECHO is the public face of the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, a 2.7 acre campus that also includes the University of Vermont Rubenstein Ecosystem Laboratory and research vessel, Lake Champlain Sea Grant, the Lake Champlain Basin Program, and the Lake Champlain Navy Memorial. ECHO boasts an eclectic gift shop and café featuring food prepared by SugarSnap. Open year-round, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve & Day. For more information visit, call (toll-free) 1.877.324.6386, or write to ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, One College Street, Burlington, VT 05401.

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