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STEVE EMBER: Lake Champlain is named for the French explorer Samuel de Champlain who first saw it in sixteen-oh-nine. In the seventeen hundreds, the Champlain Valley became a battleground in the French and Indian War, also known as the Seven Years' War. French troops in Canada built a fort to control passage to the lake as a defense against British troops moving north. The French named it Fort Carillon. But in seventeen fifty-nine, the British took control of the fort and renamed it Ticonderoga. Troops from the English colonies that would become the United States supported the British army in the war. But later, during the American Revolution, colonial troops fought against the British at Fort Ticonderoga. And later still, during the War of Eighteen Twelve, the Americans defeated the British in the Battle of Lake Champlain. The defeat not only ended British demands for territory in New England. It also put an end to British hopes of controlling the Great Lakes area. BARBARA KLEIN: The Great Lakes are Michigan, Erie, Huron, Superior and Ontario. Champlain is smaller than any of them. But in March of nineteen ninety-eight, it joined the list -- Congress declared Champlain the sixth Great Lake. This was because of efforts by Patrick Leahy, a senator who has represented Vermont for more than thirty years. Senator Leahy was trying to get research money for Lake Champlain from the National Sea Grant Program. This program operates under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The program pays for water research at universities that border either the oceans or the Great Lakes. So Senator Leahy got the words "Great Lakes including Lake Champlain" into the bill. Many people in Midwestern states that border the Great Lakes were not at all happy. John Glenn, the former astronaut who was then a senator from Ohio, put it this way: "I know the Great Lakes. I've traveled the Great Lakes. And Lake Champlain is not one of the Great Lakes." STEVE EMBER: Still, there are similarities. Lake Champlain has wildlife and rock formations that are similar to or even the same as the Great Lakes. All six were formed from the same huge piece of ice. And all six flow into the Saint Lawrence River in Canada. Lake Champlain also has the same kinds of environmental problems, including pollution and nonnative sea life, as the Great Lakes. BARBARA KLEIN: For people in the Champlain area, having it declared a Great Lake was great news. They saw it as a chance to get more help for the lake's problems, and more national attention for the area. But the measure that declared Lake Champlain a Great Lake lasted less than three weeks. The angry reaction from the Midwestern states succeeded in killing it. Vermont, however, still won the right for its researchers to ask for money under the National Sea Grant Program. Source: Voice of America