Movie gives a new, up-close look at Lake Champlain

Jordan Lowell paddles Lake Champlain next to the Rocky Wild Forest in Split.Photo courtesy of

Documentary screened at Victoria International Centre depicts journey of discovery

Mike Lynch

Last summer, Jordan Lowell spent two weeks exploring Lake Champlain and its watershed. In the process, he has experienced some of the best and worst landscapes.

Lowell paddles along stunning 200-foot cliffs along the coastline of Split Rock Wild Forest, but he also floats in the lush green waters of the northern lake where harmful algae flourish.

Rowell, a 27-year-old Essex, Vermont native, did it all for the 40-minute documentary “No Other Lake,” which will be screened Friday night at Paul Smith’s College VIC.

“I just realized I don’t know enough about this place I call home,” Lowell said, “so I wanted to learn more about it the way I did, which is, you know, go to Take risks… interact with it – touch it, feel it, hear it from the people who experience it.”

Inspired by his natural resource research at the University of Vermont, Burlington, when he learned about the environmental issues plaguing the lake, Rowell spent two weeks kayaking and camping on the 120-mile lake last August .

As an experienced hiker and skier, this was his first night paddle tour.

His high school friend, cinematographer and video editor Duane Peterson III joined in for most of the jet ski’s journey, shooting action shots and interviewing lake stakeholders. Ryan Malle provided additional footage, including from drones.

Lowell said he had three goals in making the film. He wants to inspire others to get to the lake, challenge the issue of seeing it from a new perspective, and ultimately, encourage people to be better stewards of the watershed.

“Our goal is to encourage people to reconsider their relationship to Lake Champlain and their place in this basin, this watershed,” Peterson said. “We both grew up in Essex, Vermont. It was easy for us to grow up without thinking too much about the way we contributed to this watershed situation.”

Jordan Rowell Kayaking Lake Champlain
Jordan Rowell kayaking on the 120-mile long Lake Champlain for the film “No Other Lake.”Photo courtesy of

Lake Champlain has been plagued by environmental problems in recent years, including harmful algal blooms, invasive species and warming waters.

Rather than an investigative film that digs deep into the roots of these issues, the film explores perceptions of these issues and the relationship between people and the landscape that makes up the Lake Champlain watershed.

The documentary includes interviews with conservationist and author Bill McKee, Adirondack Council rewilding advocate John Davis and Cooperative Extension agricultural resources educator Carly Summers, among others.

“I think the main thing is, we want people to associate themselves with this place as active participants in the watershed,” Peterson said. “I think we have an impact whether we like it or not.”

After the film, Davis, Summers, Lowell and Peterson will participate in a panel discussion at VIC. Doors open at 6:30pm and movie screenings start at 7pm. There is no admission fee, but donations are welcome.

The event is part of Celebrating Paddle Month at Saranac Lake, during which outdoor outfitters, Northern Forest Canoe Trails and other organizations collaborate on paddle-related activities in June.

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