By Walter Opuszynski, NFCT Trail Director
This year with support from the Lake Champlain Basin Program, REI, LL Bean, American Canoe Association and New Hampshire Recreation Trails Program, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail was able to change the way we do stewardship. In the past we have focused our efforts on a project-by-project basis. This year we spent four weeks focused on two NFCT rivers in their entirety: the Missisquoi River in Vermont and the Upper Ammonoosuc River in New Hampshire.
We found several advantages to this river wide approach:
1. We get to spend more time in one general location. It is a big trail and sometimes it feels that half of our time is packing and unpacking during the field season.
2. We can increase the amount of people that we work with. When we are in one location for a longer duration we have more time to reach out to landowners, trail stewards, and local trail supporters. It is nice to pull people in on field projects and have partners and volunteers that support the Trail over for a riverside dinner.
3. There is more time paddling and less time in a vehicle. With the river-wide concept we spend more time “roving” the rivers performing river clean-up tasks, making general campsite improvements, checking on signage, doing first detection for aquatic invasive species, and moving from small field project to small field project.
4. It is easier to maintain NFCT standards. This year when we were focused on the Missisquoi and Upper Ammonoosuc rivers we were able to make standardized campsite upgrades like new “campsite” sign, campsite sign-in boxes, and picnic tables all at once instead of over the course of a couple years.
Stay tuned for future blog posts that will describe our weeks on the Missisquoi and Upper Ammonoosuc rivers through the eyes of our Stewardship Interns.