2017 Stewardship Season Recap

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail field season is always a whirlwind, and this year was no exception. NFCT staff, interns, and volunteers completed a myriad of projects across the Northern Forest. Get a glimpse in the following video recap:

Highlights include:

A second season on the Moose Bow Loop: Thanks to Maine Bureau of Public Lands, were were able complete seven weeks of work along one the finest paddling route in Maine. Paddlers next year will find new privies, signage, picnic tables, and improved portages along the corridor.

East Highgate Dam Removal: In partnership with the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, the village of Swanton, and other partners, we were able to remove one of the most significant satety hazards along the Missisquoi River in Vermont, capping off over ten years of effort! See below for a video.

Swanton Heritage Trail: Interns, volunteers, and students completed two projects in Swanton, Vermont, this year along the Missisquoi River: Cedar stairs providing access to the Railroad Museum, and a new ramp providing access in Marble Mills Park.

Nulhegan Hut: Interns and volunteers installed the loft and siding on the Vermont River Conservancy’s Nulhegan Hut, one of the coziest accommodations along the NFCT.

One of the more unique aspects of this year was the opportunity to work in new communities in the Northern Forest but not directly on the main trail. In doing so we were able expand our impact and leverage additional funds for our stewardship program. Projects included:

Bolton Access: In partnership with the state of Vermont and Friends of the Winooski, we cleared a new trail and built a set of stone stairs providing access to the Winooski River in Bolton VT.

Northern Forest Canoe Trail field season 2017
Bolton River Access on the Winooski River in Vermont.

Lamoille River Paddlers’ Trail: As part of a community effort to develop a paddlers trail for the Lamoille River, we cleared and signed a portage trail around a the Hardwick Lake Dam, installing a landing platform and cribbed stairs, and developed a concrete ramp providing access below Sloping Falls in Johnson, and constructing a stone staircase in Morrisville.

2017 was also a year of transition. In June, NFCT Trail Director Walter Opuszinski began a job at the Vermont Forest and Parks, where he is now working on recreational management projects all over the state. I am so thankful for his nine years of service, and his effort to line up a great season! And in September, Will Jeffries, our regional field coordinator in Maine, took a job in the state’s forestry department, which will allow him to fully engage with his expertise and passion.  Thank you Will, for two years of help along the trail! Both will stay involved as volunteers for the NFCT.


2017 was also a year of new partnerships. The season would not have been possible without the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Program, which provided critical support for our intern program this year. And we are thankful for Timberland for their contribution – as well as gear for our interns and volunteers!

Our steadfast Trail Fund donors provided a critical source of “match” for our grants – thank you! Other funders this year included RiseVT, the Champlain Valley Natural Heritage Partnership, the Vermont River Conservancy, VT Forest Parks and Rec, ME Bureau of Public Lands.

Northern Forest Canoe Trail stewardship crew 2017
The summer intern crew

Our interns are critical to our work, and a huge thanks goes out to Griff Keating, James Hart, and Matt Barbender! As fine a team as any I’ve worked with.

We also couldn’t do this work without our volunteers – both our trail maintainers and waterway work trip participants.  The NFCT is a true, community effort.

As the rivers and lakes freeze over, we are in full planning mode for next yeat. With grants to write, maps to update, landowners agreements to update, it is a really good thing we have an “off-season.” But it is the field season that makes these office days worthwhile. I’m looking forward to a productive 2018 season!