Plan Your Environmentally-Focused Self-Directed Projects

Environmental Clean-up Resources

The Boon Family’s annual effort to remove trash from the bottom of Fourth Lake inspired MTC and may inspire you as well! Read their story and more!

Bring a bag for trash when you go hiking. Not only carry out what you pack in, but collect trash left behind by others.  

Lake Bottom Surprises

In the summer, Mike Schreppel, from the Fulton Chain Of Lakes Association (FCLA), scuba dives looking for invasive species and trash in our precious Fulton Chain of Lakes.  This underwater footage is from Fourth Lake near Inlet, NY.  In the past, people would place various items on the ice, place rocks around the items (junk circles) and let them sink to the bottom of the lake once the ice thawed. People would even wager on the day and time the items would sink to the bottom of the lakes. This bass is not only curious about Mike, but also about the unwanted items discarded in its home!

Freshwater sponges grow in clean streams, lakes, and rivers. Because they are sensitive to water conditions, their presence indicates high water quality and low levels of pollutants.  Thank you Mike Schreppel from the FCLA for this amazing underwater footage. Happy to see that our water quality in the Fulton Chain is good, but the freshwater sponge can do without the can!

Underwater photos of discarded items at the bottom of the Fulton Chain.  Photos taken by Mike Schreppel, from the FCLA.


Secchi Disk Tips

Measuring Lake Water Clarity 

A Secchi disk is an 8-inch disk with alternating black and white quadrants. The disc is lowered into the lake until it can no longer be seen by the observer. This depth of disappearance, called the Secchi depth, is a measure of the transparency of the water.

Transparency can be affected by the color of the water, suspended sediments and algae. Transparency diminishes as color, suspended sediments, or algal abundance increases. Water is often stained yellow or brown by decaying plant matter. Algae are small, green aquatic plants whose abundance is related to the amount of plant nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen. Therefore, transparency can be affected by the amount of plant nutrients streaming into the lake from sources such as septic tanks, sewage treatment plants, and lawn and agricultural fertilizer. Suspended sediments are often due to resuspension from lake bottoms, construction sites, agricultural fields, and storm runoff.

Transparency is an indicator of the impact of human activity on the land surrounding the lake. If transparency is measured throughout the season and from year to year, trends in transparency can be observed. Diminishing transparency can signal an early warning sign that human activity is negatively impacting the health of a lake.

MTC produced 14 Secchi disks for participants to share.  Sign-up here if you are interested in measuring water clarity for your self-directed project. Adults only. Children require adult supervision.

Visit an AWI Steward

Adirondack Watershed Institute's mission is to protect clean water, conserve habitat and support the health and well-being of the people in the Adirondacks. Learn how to prevent the introduction of new aquatic invasive species into Adirondack waters and prevent the spread of established invasive aquatic species between Adirondack waters.  See resources below.

Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) Lake Stewards Video Series; Certification and Training Programs 


Wildlife Protection

Common Loons

Thousands of birds are injured or killed each year due to fishing line entanglement.  Heroic staff from the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation detangle a bird caught in fishing line (photo, right). The Department of Environmental Conservation warns that loons are at risk for lead poisoning due to ingestion of lead fishing weights (bottom photo). 

Lead fishing weights removed from the stomach of loons.

All animals are susceptible to lead toxicosis (lead poisoning), although the effects are most often seen in birds, especially loons and even eagles. X-ray (left) from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine shows a loon who died from lead toxicosis with fishing tackle in its stomach.  

Freshwater Trout

You know who isn’t a huge fan of summer? Trout! Summer heat waves impose serious stress and can even cause death. Trout and salmon that are already heat-stressed may not recover after being caught and released.  Follow these few simple tips to protect our trout.

Black Bears

BearWise ensures that people, regardless of location, learn to live responsibly with bears to avoid negative encounters and allow humans to co-exist with black bears.


Protect our Butterflies and other Pollinators

As essential pollinators, monarch butterflies do an incredible job of helping native plants reproduce - they’re the life force behind many of our North American habitats! In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that they would be listing monarch butterflies as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Milkweed is the only plant larvae and caterpillars eat. Protect our milkweed and let the larvae and caterpillars thrive. Plant a pollinator garden to save our monarch butterflies.  

Plant native flowers to support all of our pollinators. Participate in the ADK Pollinator Project!

Upcycle Trash

Upcycle your trash and give back to Mother Earth by creating easy-to-make seed bombs. Blend together used scraps of construction paper, water, and wildflower seeds in a food processor (adult-supervision please), then form into tiny muffins. Let dry and then toss in the ground. As the seed bombs receive sun and rain, the paper will eventually compost and the seeds will germinate.  For more ideas on upcycling your trash visit

No Mow May

Mowing your lawn less creates habitat and can increase the abundance and diversity of various pollinators. One way to reduce mowing is by participating in No Mow May. The goal of No Mow May is to allow grass to grow, unmown, for the month of May, creating habitat and forage for early-season pollinators. 


Scuba diver swimming through a dense mat of Eurasian Milfoil demonstrating the reason why it can affect water activities in our local lakes and ponds.

Stop aquatic hitchhikers.  Clean, Drain and Dry your watercraft. 

Left: Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), rapid accumulation of algae in lakes that can be harmful to both wildlife and humans. Common colors are green, blue-green, yellow, brown, or red.

Middle: Eurasian Milfoil, is an invasive aquatic plant that destroys ecosystems. Due to the dense mats that it forms, it often makes activities such as boating and swimming difficult or impossible. Furthermore, clusters of these plants serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. 

Right: Zebra Mussels are an invasive, fingernail-sized mollusk with dark, zig-zagged stripes on each shell. Zebra mussels negatively impact ecosystems in many ways. They filter out algae that native species need for food and they attach to--and incapacitate--native mussels.

Left: Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is a tiny insect that feeds on hemlock trees. It can kill a tree in as quickly as four years once infestation has occurred (Courtesy of Adirondack Council).

Middle: Spotted Lantern Flies are in invasive pest from Asia that feed on a variety of plants such as maple and walnut trees, and thus pose a significant threat to New York's agricultural health. Click here to learn how you can spot them and stop their spread.

Right: Phragmites, also called common reed grass, is an aggressive wild grass that overtakes wetlands and roadsides, growing as tall as 15 ft. These grasses impact views, damage infrastructure, and reduce property values (Courtesy of Adirondack Council)

The gypsy moth, now called the spongy moth, appeared in great numbers last year (2021) in the Eastern Adirondacks. The numbers were so great that the sound of them eating and defecating was audible in some places, providing one of nature’s creepier soundtracks. The caterpillars surge every 10 to 15 years, but healthy trees can generally survive a couple of years of defoliation.

Invasive Species - Aquatic

Invasive Species | Adirondack Watershed Institute ( 

Read about the new law (2021) requiring motorized boats to be inspected for invasive plants and other harmful organisms prior to launch in Adirondack waters. 


If you discover Eurasian Watermilfoil in an ADK lake, do not attempt to remove it yourself. Leave it alone! Eurasian Watermilfoil reproduces through vegetative propagation, so each tiny bit that floats off can form a new plant. Instead, report it to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Invasive Eurasian Watermilfoil

Native Northern Watermilfoil

Invasive Species - Terrestrial 

Take photos and report infestations of invasive plants or animals to or to the iMapInvasives database:

Harmful Algal Blooms 


Lake-Friendly Living

"A Guide to Rain Gardens" -

Build a Rain Barrel

Guide to Lake-Friendly Living

Ranger Station at Alger Island Access Point

Water Gardens in New York

Check out the New York Botanical Garden’s tips for starting your own water garden at

Find plants that are native to your area at the New York Flora Atlas:

Engage Local Libraries


Sponsors, Supporters, and Endorsers of the Maintain the Chain Event

Fulton Chain of Lakes Association

Town of Webb

Town of Inlet

Adirondack Council

Adirondack Watershed Institute (of Paul Smith’s College)

Sixth and Seventh Lakes Improvement Association