DO NOT SWIM! Vermont waters are currently unsafe. Due to significant rain and flooding in most of Vermont on July 10th, with rains continuing on July 11th, currents are very strong. Also, most rivers are filled with debris, effluent, chemicals, fertilizers, etc. and are unsafe for swimming.
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Reflections: Fall Co-Director Update

November 8, 2023 by Kassia Randzio and Erin De Vries
Headwaters of the Lamoille

All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.

— Toni Morrison

For 300+ years, Vermonters turned to rivers to harness their energy. Need to carry logs downstream? Dynamite pesky boulders and bends, and build stone dams to corral saw logs into mill ponds. Need power to grind corn or cut through granite? Narrow channels to maximize water power. Want to build businesses, roads, and houses? Pile gravel and debris in steep piles atop wetland-rich floodplains. When speaking at a public library nearly 40 years ago, Toni Morrison referenced these same kinds of actions: “You know, they straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for houses and livable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places. ‘Floods’ is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be.”

They, we, the generations before us – made our rivers swift and put our people in harm’s way. Now it’s up to us to remind our rivers how to slow down, ease across floodplains, seep into hummocky old forests, soak into wetlands, and remember ancient riverbends.

Vermont River Conservancy is leading the way in this Slow Rivers Movement: In Brattleboro, where we worked side-by-side with the town to restore an ancient floodplain, giving neighbors a 12-acre park and lowering the next flood by 4-feet. In Elmore, where a mossy old forest absorbs rainwater into its spongy soils at the headwaters of the Lamoille. Along Otter Creek, where newly protected wetlands slow and filter water en route to Lake Champlain.

As we support our communities to recover from this summer’s catastrophic events, there’s no lack of opportunities to protect places that flooded – areas where rivers briefly and catastrophically remembered their ancient path.

Alongside you, landowners and supporters, we are resolved to do our part to build back resilient communities: we will protect more land along rivers, restore more wetlands, help more forests grow up along riverbanks, and reconnect more rivers to their natural floodplains.

For our rivers,

Kassia Randzio and Erin De Vries

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