January 2024

January 2024

AHOY! Greetings
Happy New Year! I am pleased to report your Board of Directors kicked-off 2024 with a focus on achieving our mission and delivering value to you, and all of our members. The Board met on January 16th to finalize committee assignments, establish annual goals, and approve the budget needed to keep Smith Mountain Lake clean and safe.
On January 12th, our Government Relations team filed a $150,000 budget amendment in the Virginia General Assembly for the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), in collaboration with Virginia Tech and SMLA, to conduct a study of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) occurring at Smith Mountain Lake. The research includes an evaluation of conditions that led to HABs last summer and recommendations for prevention of further outbreaks.
Filing the amendment is just the first step in the budget process, and there is more work to get done. We are meeting with subcommittee and committee members to gain bipartisan support. We’re off to good start, and I’m cautiously optimistic that our state legislators will vote in favor of an investment in Smith Mountain Lake.
In the first month of our make a SPLASH fundraising campaign, we received more that $8,000 in donations, primarily from our members. Thank you!
These funds are being used to launch the SMLA Dock Watch Program. This program is a resource for our community that will test for HABs and expand water quality monitoring at docks, year-round. Not only did our members help fund the program, but over 30 volunteers, from all around the lake, have stepped up to support the dock watch program.

Click Here for More Details About the Dock Watch Program
Membership matters and makes a difference!

Lake Quality Council Update

The Lake Quality Council is in the process of setting up a lab in the SMLA office. The lab will support the SMLA Dock Watch Program by providing volunteers with the ability to test water samples, monitor for emerging trends, and receive rapid results. The council is currently purchasing equipment and supplies, signing up volunteers, and getting ready for a training session with the Phytoplankton Monitoring Network, scheduled for February 21st.
Water Safety Council Update

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), and U.S. Power Squadron are offering boater safety education courses at locations around the lake. A safety course is required for all Virginia residents who boat on SML. The course is also a good idea for anyone who navigates SML and a great refresher for even the most salty captains. The next course is January 27th, with additional courses scheduled every month through August.
Click Here for Coast Guard Auxiliary and DRW Courses
Click Here for Power Squadron Courses

Committee Updates

A Day At The Lake

Our interactive and free community event, dedicated to protecting the water of SML and promoting safe recreation, is returning to Crazy Horse Marina on Saturday, June 8th. This year’s event will be bigger, better, and more fun. Mark your calendar and save the date!

Buffer Landscaping

Take advantage of the cold weather and quiet time of the year to schedule a Buffer Landscaping Advisory Support Team (BLAST) visit. These free consultations with our Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists can help you understand how to slow-the-flow of water, nutrients, pollutants, and sediments into our lake. You can email theoffice@smlassociation.org or call (540) 719-0690 to schedule your visit before the busy summer months begin.


Vicky Wuerfel, elected to the SMLA Board last month, is our new Education Committee Chair. Vicky is a former Franklin and Fairfax County English teacher. The committee’s initiatives include engaging with local elementary school teachers and students, supporting the Save Our Streams program at Benjamin Franklin Middle School, and offering Lake Quality and Water Safety speakers for community and club meetings. If you would like to join our Education Committee, or if you are interested in learning more about the SMLA Speaker Series, please email theoffice@smlassociation.org.

Save Our Stream

A trainee certification event is planned for March 9th at Green Hill Park in Salem. Save Our Stream master trainers are hosting the event for all trainees from SML, New River Valley, and Grayson County. The March event is expected to be the largest one ever held in Southwest Virginia.

Water Quality Monitoring

The Committee recently met with Ferrum College scientists and staff to discuss expanding the SML water monitoring program and developing a student internship program to support SMLA. A work plan for E. coli monitoring and source tracking is also being developed.

The Virginia Master Naturalists support our Buffer Landscaping and Save Our Streams programs. Training for Certified Master Naturalists is scheduled for March and is open to all lake and nature lovers.
Click Here for More Information

All donations are being used to expand the SMLA Dock Watch Program to more locations, increase water quality monitoring in the lake and tributaries, and amplify our safe boating message to residents, visitors, and tourists.

Click Here to Donate and Make a SPLASH

As always, your feedback is appreciated and welcome. Please reach out to me at theoffice@smlassociation.org.

Bill Butterfield, President