Locals Form New Advocacy Group Supporting Great Hosmer Pond

April 29, 2017 • Craftsbury & Albany, VT

Those who use and appreciate Great Hosmer Pond are invited to join Friends of Great Hosmer Pond, a growing advocacy group dedicated to protecting the small lake’s ecological and economic role in the region.    

Great Hosmer Pond straddles Craftsbury and Albany and is an important scenic and recreational resource for both towns. Residents of Craftsbury, Albany and other Northeast Kingdom communities, along with people from around the state, banded together last month to form Friends of Great Hosmer Pond. So far, the group counts more than 70 members.

The catalyst for the Friends group was a proposal from Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation officials to impose new Use of Public Waters rules on Great Hosmer Pond. The Friends oppose this idea. The group believes that voluntary arrangements among diverse users and lakeshore property owners are more flexible and neighborly.

“We believe that existing state laws and use rules are more than enough to keep all users of Great Hosmer Pond safe if they are properly enforced,” said Gina Campoli, a Craftsbury resident and avid canoeist. “There is no need to create additional restrictions, particularly for non-motorized uses such as rowing and sculling.”

However, the Friends goals are broader than that issue alone. Its mission is to protect Great Hosmer Pond’s many environmental attributes and recreational opportunities, as well as to preserve the pond’s important role in the local economy and as a place where all pond users can safely undertake activities that will improve their health and wellbeing. The group welcomes anyone who shares its priorities.

That includes recognizing the many contributions of the non-profit Craftsbury Outdoor Center to the region. The Friends understand that arbitrary limits on the COC’s summer sculling programs will cost the area numerous jobs. It will also reduce funding the Outdoor Center needs to continue offering free and low-cost youth recreation, such as mountain biking and cross-country skiing programs that serve hundreds of Northeast Kingdom children and their families each year.

“If you live and work here, it’s easy to see how vital the Outdoor Center is to both our quality of life and the local economy,” said Craftsbury resident Pete Johnson, an organic farmer and owner of Pete’s Greens. “More than 850 local school kids ski for free at COC each winter – that demonstrates enormous commitment to our communities.”      In addition to speaking out in support of access for all to Great Hosmer, the Friends plan to assist in coordinating volunteers to help with Eurasian Milfoil control on the pond, hold an annual membership gathering, and organize public education and recreational activities.

To learn more about Friends of Great Hosmer Pond and join up, visit www.greathosmer.org.



Gina Campoli, Friends of Great Hosmer Pond Organizing Committee, Craftsbury Common (802) 793-1822 or ginacampoliVT@gmail.com

Pete Johnson, Friends of Great Hosmer Pond Organizing Committee, Craftsbury pete@petesgreens.com

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I believe rowing shells are vessels according to Federal law. According to the Coast Guard (Federal Law) there is an exemption to requiring life jackets (which are otherwise required for all vessels) for "racing shells, rowing sculls, racing canoes, and racing kayaks". But I don't see an exemption from being vessels.

According to the definitions in the Vermont Statutes, rowing shells ARE vessels and ARE NOT vessels...

  • (10) "Racing shell or rowing scull" means a manually propelled vessel that is recognized by national or international racing associations for use in competitive racing, and one in which all occupants row or scull, with the exception of a coxswain, if one is provided, and is not designed to carry and does not carry any equipment not solely for competitive racing.
  • (12) "Vessel" means every description of watercraft, other than a seaplane on the water or a racing shell or rowing scull occupied exclusively by persons over 12 years of age, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water. 
  • http://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/section/23/029/03302

According to the Vermont Use of Public Waters Rules, vessels are every description of watercraft except a seaplane on the water: 



The speed limit is 5 mph in certain safety zones on all lakes -- within 200 ft of the shore (the shoreline safety zone) and also within 200 ft of swimmers, canoes, rowboats or other vessels, anchored or moored boats with people in them, anchorages, and docks. This applies to motorized and non-motorized vessels.
This is in the Statutes, 23 V.S.A. § 3311:

  • (c)(1) A person shall not operate any vessel, except a sailboard or a police or emergency vessel, within 200 feet of the shoreline, a person in the water, a canoe, rowboat or other vessel, an anchored or moored vessel containing any person, or anchorages or docks, except at a speed of less than five miles per hour which does not create a wake.
  • http://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/section/23/029/03311 


For lakes with areas too small for high speed boating, the speed limit on the entire lake is 5 mph. – lakes smaller than 75 acres in total or with less than 30 contiguous acres outside the 200 ft shoreline safety zone.

  • This is in the Rules, Section 3.2 (a):
  • Vessels powered by motor shall, in addition to the requirements of 23 V.S.A. § 3311(a) pertaining to careless and negligent operation:
  • 3.2 (a) not exceed five m.p.h. on lakes, ponds, and reservoirs upon which the operation of vessels powered by motor at substantially higher speeds is not a normal use, that have a surface area of 75 acres or less, that have less than 30 contiguous acres outside the shoreline safety zone, or upon which the use of internal combustion motors is prohibited;
  • http://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/documents/WSMD_Use_of_Public_Waters_Rules.pdf


At the request of 2 people*, the State granted an exemption to the 5 mph rule on Great Hosmer, where the largest contiguous area outside the shoreline safety zone is 19.49 acres.

  • This is in the rules, Endnote #2:
  • Endnotes 2. Despite having less than 30 contiguous acres outside the shoreline safety zone, the Water Resources Board, in its 1995 Rules, determined that high speed boating is a normal use on this waterbody. See, No. UPW 95-00 (Appendix A), January 1, 1995.

* According to a member of the 1995 Water Resources Board

The Statutes don’t guarantee that all uses will be allowed or accommodated on all lakes.

  • This is from the Statutes, 10 V.S.A§ 1424:
  • (c) The secretary shall attempt to manage the public waters so that the various uses may be enjoyed in a reasonable manner, in the best interests of all the citizens of the state. To the extent possible, the secretary shall provide for all normal uses.
  • http://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/section/10/049/01424


Section 5 of the Rules defines “normal use.”

  • This is from the Rules, Section 5.6:
  • “Normal use” means any lawful use of any specific body of public water that occurred on a regular, frequent, and consistent basis prior to January 1, 1993.