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At the Riverside: A Summer of Standout Volunteerism

November 13, 2023

This summer a record number of volunteers went to work for our rivers. Braving a combination of downpours and blistering heat, they donned work gloves, pick mattocks, brooms, and shovels to reopen river access trails, free saplings from girdling tree guards, and install signs to help people recreate safely.

Group of volunteers after a morning of hard work.

Restored River Access, Barre

Through a partnership with the Barre River Access Task Force, a group of 18 volunteers ages 7-77 helped reconstruct a 1⁄2 mile trail that leads to a spectacular waterfall on the Stevens Branch River. The July flood destroyed much of the trail, redistributing rocks, gravel, sand, and debris, making the trail unclear and unsafe. Volunteers hauled out a 1⁄2 ton of plastic, fabric, and tires from the floodplain, moved rocks to become stepping stones, and resurfaced the trail so that anglers, swimmers, and picnickers can now safely and clearly find their way to the falls.

Amanda Garland stewards a site with a pick mattock

Verde Rock, Hancock

The White River flows through Hancock Village, but this particular spot is known for its green rocks – Vermont Verde – the namesake of the local quarry and the colorful outcroppings that rise up from the riverbed. Once a junkyard, this riverbend was piled high with cars when we protected it 4 years ago. Though the cars are long gone, waist-deep weeds, a lack of parking, and no sign made the site less than welcoming. Our River Steward, Amanda Garland, worked hard to change that. She put in the sweat equity to create a trail, and she connected with neighbors who now help take care of the site. We had been calling this swimming hole by its less-than honorable junkyard name, so Amanda reached out to the community for ideas. When she asked local high school kids to suggest new names, the answer was easy – Verde Rock – the longtime source of community pride.

Huntington Gorge, Richmond

We hosted a Vermont Youth Conservation Corps crew in Richmond, where youth installed stone steps above the gorge and built three sections of boardwalk to cross a bubbling seep. Here at one of the most dangerous river access sites in Vermont, the crew also learned about swimming hole safety and installed warning signs to alert visitors.

Connecticut River Clean-up, Brattleboro

In partnership with Connecticut River Conservancy, we led a squad of four volunteers to pick up trash at Harris Hill Ravine in the West River watershed, part of the annual Source to Sea Clean-up. Our crew removed 9 tires, 50 pounds of scrap metal, a pile of pressure-treated wood, and four large bags of trash.

Four staff members doing site stewardship

River Days Staff Retreat

On our annual River Days retreat, staff cleared an overgrown path to the Nulhegan River and helped take care of a silver maple fern floodplain forest and campsite along the Connecticut River.

Inspired by these volunteers? 

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