NFCT launches 2020 stewardship projects

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) will implement stewardship projects in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Quebec and Maine this summer to protect waterways from environmental degradation and improve access for anyone who enjoys the outdoors.

NFCT’s stewardship team is following all state-specific guidelines for COVID-19 and will take additional precautionary steps to ensure the safety of each crew as well as other users of the canoe trail.

“The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is an incredible natural resource, connecting communities across the Northern Forest socially and economically,” said Karrie Thomas, NFCT’s executive director. “Taking care of the streams, rivers, ponds and lakes that comprise the trail is foundational to our mission. COVID-19 has presented our stewardship crew with unprecedented challenges for this season, so we’ve taken great care to put the health of our staff, interns and volunteers at the forefront.”

“Each stewardship season presents us with challenges, and this year is certainly no different,” said NFCT Stewardship Director Noah Pollock. “Our work this summer includes the construction of access steps at take-outs and put-ins, building ADA-compliant privies, improving campsites and more — all of which is aimed at ensuring that the canoe trail is safe and accessible for public use.”

NFCT staff provides leadership, training and education for the summer stewardship crew, which consists of paid interns and volunteer trail maintainers.

“Our stewardship work represents a commitment to maintaining an exceptional recreational experience, while also supporting healthy waterways and engaged communities,” Pollock said.

New York stewardship work is supported by the Lake Champlain Basin Program, landowners Eric and Michelle Fahl and Craig Von Bargen. Projects include:

  • Improvements to a portage around Separator Rapids on the Saranac River
  • New infrastructure to the Forest to Field campsite, Saranac River
  • Maintenance to the McCasland Bridge carry, Saranac River

Vermont stewardship work is supported by the Vermont River Conservancy, the Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild and Scenic Committee, RiseVT, Vermont Fish and Wildlife, the town of Johnson, the town of Richford and the Lake Champlain Basin Program. Projects include:

  • Construction and installation of an ADA accessible privy along the North Branch Cascades Trail, a one mile walking path providing access to the North Branch of the Winooski River
  • Reconstruction of a set of 20 stone steps providing access to the Missisquoi in the town of Richford, and construction of a small stage and set of benches for a new riverside park
  • Improvements to the Doe Campsite along the Missisquoi River, including a box privy, signage, and trail maintenance
  • Installation of river access steps and a kiosk in Johnson and construction of a primitive campsite along the Lamoille River
  • Repairs to the Francis Smith River Access along the Connecticut River in Lemington

New Hampshire stewardship work is supported by Ampersand Energy, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, CT River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund, the NHCF Neil & Louise Tillotson Fund, and Great River Hydro. Projects include:

  • Development of formal portage trails around the Red Dam and Brooklyn Street Dams on the Upper Ammonoosuc River
  • Development of timber river access steps for the Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail SCA Campsite

Maine stewardship work is supported by the High Peaks Initiative, Longfellow Mountain Heritage Trails, Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and American Forest Management, Maine Recreational Trails Program, and Maine Huts and Trails. Projects include:

  • Development of portage trails around the Chain of Ponds and Lower Ledge Falls along the North Branch of the Dead River 
  • A suite of projects near Dead River’s spectacular Grand Falls, including a new paddler campsite, replacement of a 24-foot bridge and installation of timber access steps
  • Reconstruction of the Dead River launch, providing access to one of New England’s finest open-boat, whitewater runs

NFCT stewardship work is supported by memberships and donations to the Trail Fund, public and private grants and business and corporate sponsorships.

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a nonprofit organization that maintains and promotes the 740-mile water trail that runs from Old Forge, New York, to Fort Kent, Maine, and connects New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine. The trail showcases the mix of landscapes and communities currently lining the traditional routes used by indigenous peoples, settlers, and guides. It is the longest in-land water trail in the nation and consists of 23 rivers and streams, 59 lakes and ponds, 45 communities, and 65 portages.

To learn more about the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, email