By Kate Williams
Missisquoi. Connecticut. Androscoggin. I say these words as I write them, and recognize that what I feel for these rivers is love.
As Executive Director of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT), I have spent the last decade working with incredible staff, partners, and volunteers to establish a 740-mile water trail that provides recreational access to these and many other rivers, lakes, and streams. In the process of this substantial work I have experienced time and again the power that the paddling experience has to connect people to the outdoors in life changing ways; I have experienced time and again the love story that happens when people spend time with the beauty, peace, and history of these rivers.
Today, the NFCT route is threatened by the proposed use of the Montreal-Portland pipeline to transport tar sands oil.
NFCT and many others have worked hard to secure access, and develop maps, guidebooks and other world-class recreational services in order to connect people to these beautiful rivers and to ignite the love stories that we know change people’s lives whether they live five minutes or five hours from the riverbanks. A tar sands spill would negate these efforts.
The resources required to rebound from the long term impact of a spill would exceed the capacity of the small towns and organizations that rely on healthy rivers and watersheds to survive and thrive.
We do not want to see our region suffer in this way. When we imagine a spill like those which occurred in Arkansas and Michigan, we realize that we must be a voice for the rivers and say no to tar sands across the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
NFCT is an organization that takes action to secure recreational access, to develop programs that get people out on the water, and to take care of public access and camping sites. We will continue to take these actions in support of vital communities, and healthy, accessible waterways. We oppose the Tar Sands Pipeline because it could potentially threaten all that we, and so many others, have worked for.
NFCT is contributing to an increase in recreational usage on the Trail, and among these users are local kids who participate in our Northern Forest Explorers program and fall in love with these rivers and watersheds with a passion that puts the rest of us to shame. We want these kids to be able to grow up trusting that they can continue to dip back into their local waters with their own children and grandchildren.
NFCT will continue our work of ensuring that the Trail’s rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes are treated with respect, care, and active stewardship now and into the future. Today we join with many other communities, citizens, and groups who are stepping forward to say that the Tar Sands Pipeline should not be part of this future.
To see a map of the pipeline route, click here.