The Lakes Region Conservation Corps (LRCC) is an AmeriCorps service program that develops skills and experiences for conservation professionals. LRCC members are the driving force behind the Squam Lakes Association’s conservation efforts. The program provides hands-on conservation work experience and numerous certifications over a broad range of areas, which ensures that LRCC members are capable of independently approaching a variety of tasks in the environmental conservation field. Members remove invasive species from the Squam watershed, manage and act as caretakers at our backcountry campsites, maintain the SLA’s 50+ miles of trails, educate the public on local and regional conservation initiatives, spearhead reports on conservation efforts, lead SLA volunteer crews and ensure the daily functioning of the Squam Lakes Association’s programs. Click here to learn more about the LRCC program.
January 25, 2019
I was once told on a backpacking trip in Utah that the human eye has terrible depth perception past a certain distance. My fellow backpackers and I were told this slightly comforting fact as we scoured the canyon walls surrounding us, searching fervently for our trail out of the canyon and onto the mesa. We were thankfully able to find the trail after a few scrambles and a few choice words under our breath to whoever created that arcanely glorious trail...
The sound of heavy winter boots crunching on snow broke my desert reverie, and I found myself bundled to the brim on the edge of Little Squam Lake. I was frozen to the spot because my fellow LRCC members and I were debating if the snowman in front of the ice fishing shelter (roughly 100 yards away) was painted on to the side of the hut, or actually a snowman. I cocked my head to the side, thinking that this was my new canyon trail to discern, and started trudging forward onto the lake.
The real reason why we were on Little Squam Lake that day was not to question the existence of a snowman, but to be trained on how to take water quality measurements under the ice. We used a GPS to make our way to the sampling site while pulling our equipment on a sled: ice auger, water quality multiparameter sampling device, integrated sampler, foam sit-pad, and opaque sampling bottles. Since ice safety is never a guarantee, we also individually carried ice picks around our neck, wore PFDs, used poles to test the ice when first stepping onto the lake, and one member used a cordless drill to ensure that the ice was thick enough for us to walk on.
At the sampling site, we took turns gathering data and trying to stay warm. I was in charge of holding the multiparameter device as we lowered it meter by meter, collecting data such as dissolved oxygen, temperature, and specific conductivity. In my thick aquaculture gloves that I graciously borrowed from our Director of Conservation Rebecca, I thought back to the the idea of depth perception. It’s a beautiful phrase when dwelt upon, ironically, from different perspectives:
1. We were standing on top of a frozen lake with no one in site, taking in our new perspective, one that not many get the opportunity to see.
2. We were gathering data, or different perspectives, from the depths below us.
3. Overtime, these measurements will give us a deeper understanding of the water quality affecting the Squam Lakes region.
4. And finally, as multi-dimensional as water quality sampling is, so are the continued efforts of the SLA to conserve these magnificent spaces. To be part of an organization that takes these conservation practices to such depths, and from a multitude of perspectives, is an incredible feeling.
After finishing up our water quality sampling, we packed up all of our equipment and started lumbering our way back across the lake. As we passed the ice fishing shelter, I looked back at the snowman. Turns out it was real, as real as the mission of the Squam Lakes Association felt in that moment.
Amanda loves working with children, dancing like no one is watching, and cats/ cat themed accessories. You can read more about Amanda here.
The SLA is currently accepting Winter Water Quality Volunteers! You can learn more about joining the SLA's WWQ team here.
Join our LRCC members for weekly guided hikes, volunteer opportunities, and environmental programs. Learn more by clicking here.