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We got outside for our rivers this past weekend. Through artwork, stories, and observation, people of all ages learned about the importance of our rivers. With all this fun, we forgot it was cold!
Inspired by the community’s drive to better understand and face the rivers, and a successful trail cleanup last summer, our AmeriCorps member Addie set out to get back to Rotary Park and engage with the community.
In an effort to make the trail more welcoming and visible to visitors, we planned a winter event where we would work as a community to create a trail entryway arch, as well as participate in entertainment and educational opportunities for all.
We started the day with a storytelling session, learning about how rabbits got their long ears, the winter dragon, and singing a song about the comfort of winter.
Ian Gauthier from Aldrich Public Library offered his storytelling services and was a hit around the fire!
Then, we took a s’mores break, where community members were able to have a sweet treat and warm up around the toasty fire.
During this time, folks also ordered gyros from Dougy Fresh Catering, which was set up and ready to serve lunch and hot chocolate for the whole afternoon!
After fueling up, we strapped on snowshoes donated for the day by Onion River Outdoors or put microspikes on to walk the snow-covered 1/4 mile river trail where the colorful archway will be installed as a beacon to the waterfall.
On the walk, we learned about where things we put in the river go by throwing snowballs and watching them float downstream. This is a lesson about how our actions along tributaries and upstream impact larger ecosystems. We kept our eyes peeled for signs of wildlife and learned about what Friends of the Winooski is doing to protect the Stevens Branch.
By the end of the day and all of these activities, we had made progress with our mosaic river trail entry arch designed by local artist Melody Harvey. Volunteers spent the time between activities gluing bottle caps collected by the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District and the Barre Area Senior Center to the design.
We are so excited to see this archway have an impact by drawing people to face the river in Barre.
This all came to fruition with the help of a number of community partners, who all saw the vision and wanted to work with us to bring Barre’s residents to the river. Thank you to every organization who lent their time to this effort and every volunteer who helped make the event a success!
Last, but not least, thank you to AARP Vermont. Without their support, the event would not have been able to happen. The winter placemaking grant program provides funding to six Vermont organizations every year so that they can bring communities together.
Do you live in or near Barre? Are you curious about what other projects are going on to help your rivers? Several organizations are working in Barre on these issues and seeking to increase the health of rivers.
Vermont River Conservancy:
Our mission is to protect and restore rivers for people and wildlife.
In addition to protecting and restoring rivers, we connect with communities to support them and learn about how best to achieve equitable access to rivers. This year, we are making efforts to protect rivers within the Upper Winooski watershed, which will protect Barre and surrounding communities.
Barre City River Access Task Force:
Their mission is to: Promote and increase river access, through community engagement and understanding, the creation of river access areas, education, and outreach activities in Barre City, Vermont.
You can find them here, on Instagram @barrerivers, and on Facebook at Barre City River Access Task Force. They have a number of events and volunteer opportunities throughout the year.
Friends of the Winooski River:
The mission of Friends of the Winooski River is to safeguard and enhance the natural resources of the Winooski River watershed in harmony with its human communities. We pursue this mission through monitoring, restoration, partnerships, education, and outreach.
Visit their website here to learn more about getting involved and learn more about the watershed.